Sins of Omission

Chinese Exclusion

Five years ago, the California state legislature voted to apologize to the Chinese for former laws that discriminated against them, including the federal government’s Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which California congressmen championed.  The apology bill was sponsored by state assembly members Paul Fong and Kevin de León.  Fong said he was not planning on demanding monetary compensation for “surviving victims” of the state and federal laws, but he wanted schoolchildren educated about the mistakes of the past.  What passes for education on such issues in California, however, is a polemical inventory of half-truths and omissions.

In June, the California state senate passed a resolution calling on Congress to apologize formally for the Exclusion Act.  Back in October 2011 the Senate passed a resolution expressing “regret” for enactment of the Exclusion Act, and in June 2012, the House followed suit, but state senator Bob Huff said, “An expression of ‘regret’ is different from an actual apology.  Regret is ambiguous and may or may not imply guilt.”  A conservative Republican, Huff was mayor of Diamond Bar before his election to the California senate.  Diamond Bar is 53-percent Asian, mostly recent Chinese immigrants, and the current mayor is Ling-Ling Chang.

Unfortunately, almost no one calling for apologies on the state or national...

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