The AACP Newsletter
Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages
Since 1970 October 2005
Editor's Notes
Event Schedule
Featured Books
Featured Articles/Editorials
McCarthyism to Terrorism
Looking At Past and Present Effects on the Asian American Community
(Part 1)

A Report from Last Month's
Chinese American Studies Conference
Plus an Announcement on AACP's Film Festival

My Brother Thomas W. Chinn
A Pioneering Chinese American Journalist and Historian

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McCarthyism to Terrorism
Looking At Past and Present Effects on the Asian American Community
(Part 1)

By Leonard D. Chan

With the recent release of the movie "Good Night, and Good Luck," a retelling of the Edward R. Murrow and CBS News fight with Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, it is good time to remember the effects that McCarthyism had on the Chinese American community.

As described in the 2001 documentary called The Chinatown Files, McCarthyism had a very significant and large impact on the Chinese American community. What is commonly recorded and discussed about the McCarthy era are the blacklists and persecution of well-known Americans that were accused of being communist or communist sympathizers. By contrast, relatively little is known about the thousands of Chinese in America that were mistreated during this period.

In the book The Chinese In America, historian Iris Chang boils the cause of the Chinese American persecution of the 50s and 60s down to three factors - the start of the Cold War, the Communist victory in China's 1940s revolution, and the Korean War.

Even though the Cold War between the US led countries and the communist Soviet Union led countries rarely resulted in direct heated battles between the two factions, the practice of demonizing the enemy never the less occurred. McCarthyism was basically an extreme outgrowth of the fear and hatred of communism during the Cold War. Opportunists such as Senator Joseph McCarthy capitalized on the growing paranoia of Americans and gained much power by fomenting fear through his communist witch-hunts.

When China became a communist country in 1949, the anti-Communists sentiment in the United States expanded to include scrutiny of the Chinese in America. China's direct involvement in the Korean War opposite America and its allies, compounded the negative image of Chinese Americans. Anti-Communists worried that the Chinese in America might become a fifth column for communist China.

Anti-Communist sentiments were not limited to a select few in power. Such fear and hate permeated and divided the Chinese American community itself. Many Chinese Americans were divided over the 1940s Chinese revolution. There were those that supported the Nationalist Chiang Kai-shek KMT government and those that supported the Mao Zedong lead communist. When the communist won the war and the KMT retreated to Taiwan, the Chinese in San Francisco's Chinatown had open fights among themselves and death threats were even levied against communist sympathizers. Such community divisions were widened and fueled by the larger communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy era.

Among the interesting cases brought to light by the documentary The Chinatown Files were the investigations of the China Daily News and the Mun Ching (Chinese-American Democratic Youth League). Both organizations were seen as being communist sympathetic.

The China Daily News was a newspaper started by the liberal minded union like organization called the Chinese Hand Laundry Association (CHLA). The laundry workers that comprised this organization were on record as being opposed to the feudal practices of pre-communist China and advocates for progressive social issues both here and abroad. Their views expressed in the newspaper were thus less sympathetic to the Nationalist Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek, which was seen as corrupt and un-supportive of human rights for its citizens.

In the case of the United States v. the China Daily News, members of the China Daily News and CHLA were arrested and convicted on grounds of breaking the Trading With the Enemy Act. The law

empowers the President of the United States to prohibit transactions between US residents and enemy countries. The China Daily News was considered in violation of this act when it had an advertisement from a bank in communist China that mentioned how Chinese in America could send money home to their families through the bank. Along with the China Daily News were several individuals of the CHLA that were picked out for sending cash home to their families in China. Of the individuals investigated, several were deported, some committed suicide, one disappeared, and one died mysteriously.

The Chinese-American Democratic Youth League and other organizations like it were social organizations that had an interest in Chinese culture, Chinese American issues, and the happenings in China. Their sympathies were like the China Daily News - they were interested in seeing social reforms in China. When the communist Chinese won the revolution, members of these organizations were hopeful that people in China would be better off. These sentiments attracted the closer scrutiny of the FBI. As a result, members of these organizations were often plucked from the street and interrogated without any formal arrest warrants. One of the people interviewed in The Chinatown Files even mentioned how he found a listening device in their organization's library.

An interesting note is that even after the Korean War ended and Joseph McCarthy had his powers removed, the entire Chinese American community was placed under harasser investigations and scrutiny. A 1955 report by Everett F. Drumwright, the US consul to Hong Kong, was the leading cause for this tighter scrutiny. In his report he wrongly accused Chinese American of being primarily comprised of illegal aliens. The report reaffirmed fears that many communist Chinese spies could be lurking among the Chinese American populace. As a result, thousands of Chinese living in America were detained and many were deported back to China. As in the cases of the better-known people caught up in the McCarthy era witch hunts, many of the Chinese Americans that were investigated had their careers and/or businesses ruined too.

The Chinese American Democratic Youth League and China Daily News were eventually dissolved as a result of the harassing tactic of investigators. However, for some, such as Henry Chin the president of the China Daily News, relief from investigation would not end until President Nixon's visit to China in 1972. The 1970s diplomatic efforts between America and China began to thaw out the Cold War fears of communist China and in so doing ended this dark chapter in Chinese American history.

On a personal note, I met someone who was deported back to China. While on vacation in China, a number of years ago, I met a distant relative who spoke pretty good English. He had lived in America for over eight years and was deported when he was a teenager. His deportation came before I was born, so I didn't really understand the reasons for it until now. Consternation within our family would fill the air whenever his story came up. As a result, we tended not to ask too many questions.

Similar stories to this can probably be found in many Chinese families that lived in America during the 50s. If you were not present during this period, ask your parents or grand parents to tell you about it or go and find a copy of The Chinatown Files and watch it (check our resources section, for more information on where to purchase this video).

In next month's newsletter we will continue this article by comparing and contrasting the Chinese American McCarthy era experience with the Muslim American terrorism investigation of today.

Internet Resources For This Article
Good Night, and Good Luck official website -
Edward R. Murrow -
Joseph McCarthy -
McCarthyism -
Red Scare -
The Chinatown Files official website -
SF Chronicle article on The Chinatown Files -
Trading With the Enemy Act -
Mao Zedong -
Chiang Kai-shek -
Kuomintang (KMT) -

A Report from Last Month's
Chinese American Studies Conference
Plus an Announcement on AACP's Film Festival

By Sophie Wong

My very first Chinese American Studies Conference experience was fabulous!

I was totally energized and mobilized by AACP's founder & GM, Florence M. Hongo, who literally packed and moved over 15 boxes of Asian American books to the conference for display and sale. While our newsletter Chief Editor, Leonard Chan, was busy fulfilling orders, I did workshop hopping... How I wished to be cloned many times over so that I could attend multiple workshops simultaneously, gaining perspectives from experts in each field. There was so much to learn, so little time to spare.

Authors, historians, professors, researchers, scholars, media/movie professionals, and others from all over the country were here at this conference. As a volunteer of AACP, I got to attend some free workshops and talked to a few VIPs. All of a sudden, history came alive. I realized that people in our generation are actually the ones making history right now, everyday, everywhere, by all means. I'm humbled by the mission.

After two/three decades have passed, several continents traveled, a few nice kids/pets raised, various careers experimented, I'm back to the starting point...under-employed but full of hope and appreciative of life. For once, I'm so proud of being an Asian American English major from Taiwan.

Now that Asian Americans have bridged the Pacific, it's time to bridge the community where we all consider home. Since film is an international language, which provides aspects and views of different cultures and customs - Florence has initiated the planning for a film festival to be held in our home of San Mateo. Here's some basic information on the event:

What: Asian Pacific American Film Festival
When: May 2006 (dates & time TBD)
Where: San Mateo Century 12 or Central Park
Why: May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Theme: Bridging the Community
Mission: Educate the public about Asian Pacific Americans

We are in the planning stages for this event, so please kindly contact AACP with your ideas. AACP is in great need of volunteers and big heart companies or organizations willing to help sponsor this wonderful community event. So please help - we are eager to hear from you.

Stay tuned to our future newsletters for further details.

Best regards,

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Nov. 12 Japantown Winter Arts & Crafts Boutique SJ Buddhist Church Gym
640 N. 5th St.
San Jose, CA
Dec. 3
Holiday Wishes Boutique and Cafe
Whether you are just browsing or looking for that perfect holiday gift, come out and join in the fun.
Senior Center
2645 Alameda de las Pulgas
San Mateo, CA
Jan. 14 APA New Year's Poetry Day AACP - 529 E. 3rd Ave.
San Mateo, CA
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Nov. 4-7 CA Lib. Assoc. 107th Annual Conference Pasadena, CA
Nov. 9-13 Nat. Assoc. for Multicultural Ed. (NAME) 2005 Conference Hyatt Regency
Atlanta, Georgia
Nov. 19
National Pacific Islander Educator Network (NPIEN)
4th Annual Education Conference
Paramount High School
14429 S. Downey Ave.
Paramount, CA
Nov. 17-20 CA School Lib. Assoc. Conference 2005 Ontario Conventional Center
Ontario, CA

Editor's Message

Hi Everyone. I'm late, I'm very very late - is it still October :) ?

We're nearing the end of the year - wow it's gone by fast. As in past years, we will be combining our November and December newsletters. Our next newsletter will be roughly a month from now and may appear in December.

AACP is planning on having another poetry day at our facilities next January. If you are a poet or love hearing poetry, please get in touch with us and come to our event. We will fill you in with more details in our next newsletter.

Thank you Sophie Wong for all your help this month - at the Chinese American Studies conference, with this newsletter, and for spearheading the plans for our film festival. Thank you Steve Barkhurst of the APA News and Review for reprinting our Hiroshi Kashiwagi interview in your journal.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

My Brother Thomas W. Chinn
A Pioneering Chinese American Journalist and Historian

By Mae C. Wong
Edited by Leonard Chan

We called our brother "T" for Tom. He was 16 years old when our father died. He became the father figure to us five siblings. My oldest sister Sue was married and living in Oregon. T was always a serious guy and I thought a bit dull. He never played with us because he thought we were silly.

T only dated one girl in his life. Her name was Daisy and we called her "Dillie." They were engaged for a year before marrying. We all lived together in a big rented house. Both T and Dillie worked and always seem to be involved in a lot of community activities and church services.

T was always reading something. He became very interested in Chinese History and Chinese in America. He took some journalism courses and thought he would like to publish a weekly newspaper in English for the Chinese communities. The only publications were in Chinese, so the American-born Chinese never had a chance to connect with their motherland or knew much about Chinese culture. In 1935, T and a staff of eight volunteers began publishing a weekly newspaper called the "Chinese Digest." The newspaper was not just a hobby or business. Their goal was to awaken Chinese everywhere - from the little Chinese communities right up to the biggest ones such as the one in New York City. It was hoped that people would learn from the Chinese Digest of what was going on in different communities, from social events to political issues. They wanted to bring together common interests and intermingle when opportunities arose.

A friend offered them office space rent-free. From the beginning, the Digest was under-financed and understaffed. Both problems persisted throughout the paper's existence. The two sources of revenue, subscriptions and advertisements, never reached the level expected and in 1939, the publication ended.

T's interest in bringing Chinese from all over to interact and connect never left him. He recruited a few friends to join him in forming an organization dedicated to the history of

the Chinese in America and in 1963, they founded the Chinese Historical Society (CHS). For a small museum, it was a huge success. CHS acquired many artifacts and received plenty of donations. Today it is called the Chinese Historical Society of America, enjoys a new and prominent location on Clay Street in San Francisco, and is a popular tourist attraction.

In 1986 T was asked to write a book on Chinese History and the American-born Chinese. A grant was made possible by a foundation in Hong Kong and it eventually took two years to complete the book titled "Bridging the Pacific." Happy to say, it was very well received.

T and his wife Dillie recalled that the most exciting and memorable highlight of their lives occurred in 1982. They received an invitation from President Reagan to attend a State dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II of England and her husband Prince Phillip. It was held at the Hearst Court of the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. During the social hour, the guests were very cordial, introducing themselves to one another. The Rev. Billy Graham and wife chatted with them. There's Shirley Temple Black... Ted Koppel... so many, many more famous faces... over 300!! T had always been a very serious, conservative and quiet person, but he was also a huge 49ers-football fan. When he spotted Joe Montana, the quarterback of the 49ers, he made a beeline over to meet him, grabbed him by the hand and shook it vigorously. He was in 7th heaven! How he wished they allowed cameras and autographs. No one would believe this happened to him without proof!

Many days afterwards we were compelled to hear of his meeting Joe Montana over and over again, but not a word about the royal couple and the President of the United States. When we saw T walking towards us, we all scramble off in different directions.

Thomas Chinn passed away peacefully in San Francisco on September 11, 1997, one day before his dear Dillie's 3rd anniversary of passing.


Some of the following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end November 20, 2005.

Tigers, Frogs, and Rice Cakes
A book of Korean Proverbs

By Selected and translated by Daniel D. Holt
Illustrated by Soma Han Stickler

1999, 32 pages, Hardback.

Tigers, Frogs, and Rice Cakes is an intriguing Korean proverb book. Some of the proverbs are at first puzzling, but the well-written explanations reveal the universal wisdom that is contained within this beautifully illustrated picture book.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3314, Price $15.95

Words of Compassion and Wisdom

By Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Illustrated by & Translated by Lin Chia-hui

1996, 203 pages, Paperback.

The contents of this book came from Master Cheng Yen's numerous speeches and Dharma talks. Readers can open this book anytime to absorb these wistful and easy to read, yet profound phrases, and apply them to whatever they are doing, whether it is improving oneself, strengthening one's learning, or just being a human being. These meaningful phrases will help serve as a guide to daily living - a compass for leading a virtuous, meaningful, and fulfilling life.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3315, Price $7.00

The Chinese in America
A Narrative History

By Iris Chang
Illustrated by Nancy Resnick

2003, 496 pages, Paperback.

AACP is happy to finally have the paperback edition of Iris Chang's thorough narrative history of The Chinese in America. It's both a fascinating read and a great reference book - we even used it to help write this month's newsletter article.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3316, Price $16.00

Bridging the Pacific
San Francisco Chinatown and Its People

By Thomas W. Chinn
1989, 330 pages, Hardback.

Bridging the Pacific is a wonderful book on the history of San Francisco's Chinatown and it's people. It's filled with pictures and biographies on many of the people and families of one of San Francisco's enduring communities. AACP is ecstatic to have this rare book in stock. Currently, you can't find a used copy of this book for less than $61.16 at

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3317, Great Rare Book Price $34.95

Usagi Yojimbo
Fathers and Sons

By Stan Sakai
Illustrated by Stan Sakai

2005, 184 pages, Hardback.

Follow the story of Miyamoto Usagi, a seventeenth-century samurai rabbit. Accomplished comic book writer Stan Sakai's Father and Son is the 19th book in his classic series Usagi Yojimbo. This book will appeal even to the occasional comic book reader and make you a fan.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3318, Price $15.95

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