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The Tragedy of Jean Quan

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A good Chris Fan piece at Hyphen asking a question that has plagued social movements for a long time–why do solidly progressive politicians end up siding with forces of order when they are elected to powerful positions? In this case, Quan was a longtime progressive activist on Asian-American issues.

Fan’s essay also notes the problematic racial homogeneity of the Occupy movement, which in the context of Oakland led them to rename Frank Ogawa Plaza, one of the few public spaces in the United States named after an Asian-American.

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  • Lee

    I think that framming this type of phenomenon as “solidly progressive politicians” ending up “siding with the forces of order when they are elected to powerful positions” is not entirely correct. Quan was elected to the be the Mayor of Oakland and her primary job is pretty much ensuring that the City of Oakland runs smoothly and provides services to the residents of Oakland rather than being a progressive activitist. If she feels that Occupy Oakland is going against her responsibilities as Mayor of Oakland than she is supposed to act oas Mayor of Oakland not as a progressive activist.

    The best places for progressive activists or even conservatives activists politically might be in legislative positions, where there is less stress between the duties of an activist and the duties as a legislature. Executive offices often require a lot of balancing between ideology and the realities of government.

    • Yes, but…

      How one does the job of making Oakland City Hall and DPW run smoothly is a field that has some give. It can be done in a progressive manner than leaves a distinctly progressive footprint, even if the tasks being carried out would have been done by any mayor.

      I guess I’m talking about style. One can do a technocratic job in a progressive, or conservative, style.

      • Uncle Kvetch

        It can be done in a progressive manner than leaves a distinctly progressive footprint, even if the tasks being carried out would have been done by any mayor.

        Quite. Here’s an excellent example of how not to do it in a progressive manner.

        • Now here’s the tough question: how would a progressive mayor, who holds genuinely progressive values, but (and?) who includes the mandate to ensure that public venues are available for the public to use, respond to a movement whose tactic is to occupy public spaces for months as a time? Picture that occupying movement as consisting of Tea Party members if it makes it easier.

          How does a progressive mayor return a park to public use when it’s been taken over by a private group? Not like Bloomberg, obviously, but how? Are we just talking about crowd control tactics here?

          • Lee

            Yeah, this was pretty much my point. Quan is Mayor of Oakland and part of being a mayor is ensuring that public venues are open to the public. If OWS or the Tea Party wanted to take over a public venue for months at a time than they Mayor would eventually have to kick them out so the wider public could use the venue. Now, there might be away to do this “progressively” but I can’t really think of it. If the protestors want to stay than they are going to stay until made to leave.

            The most “progressive” way would probably to get some sort of judicial injunction or order against the protestors and than use the police to move them out in the least violent way possible. Be very bureaucratic about it. However, many of the protestors are going to want there to be a scene and will act accordingly.

            • pete

              Did Quan go there and discuss the problem? Did any very senior official? Was there any serious attempt to bring the Occupiers into the discussion? I ask because I’m not sure, but my impression is that the administration went straight to police tactics (perhaps not initially violent, but policework nonetheless). The “progressive” way would surely be to at least try to get buy-in and preferably evolve a mutually acceptable compromise from the bottom up. My sense is that wasn’t really tried.

            • Uncle Kvetch

              Now, there might be away to do this “progressively” but I can’t really think of it. If the protestors want to stay than they are going to stay until made to leave.

              I agree that it’s a tough question and I don’t have a simple answer for it. I pointed to Bloomberg because his guns-blazing approach to Zuccotti Park was in keeping with his longstanding authoritarian streak.

              • LeeEsq

                Thats why I think that most liberal or progressive way to deal with this issue is to go through the ejection motions as procedurally as possible even if it takes a long time. Guns blazing is not the liberal way.

    • Walt

      This isn’t a hard question. As long as Occupy Oakland doesn’t lead to an actual public health problem, or an actual crime wave, the correct thing is to do nothing. If protestors take over a city park for a year-long protest, well, Oakland will survive.

      • Ed

        A mayor who permitted such an encampment to reach the point of starting a public health problem or a crime wave would be in big trouble. The right of the protesters to protest has to be balanced against the rights of the rest of the community to have access to public venues and for those venues to be maintained for the use of everyone. It’s a very tricky balancing act and Quan botched it, but that’s less betrayal than inexperience, possibly incompetence.

      • LeeEsq

        Well no, it really isn’t that easy. Parks and squares are basically meant to be public open spaces and the residents of a municipality have the right to enjoy those open spaces. They pay taxes to enjoy those open spaces, not to let OWS or the Tea Party or anybody else use them as forum for a year. Now parks and squares are attractive places for protests good and bad because many people can get together and protest. Thats why temporarily using parks and squares as protest forums have to be allowed. However, I’m not sure that First Amendment grants people or groups the right to take over public spaces for long periods of time at the expense of the people who might want to enjoy the park as a park.

        • 1. There are other public parks in Oakland.
          2. “The public” includes the Occupy folks.
          3. Who says the Occupy site prevented anyone from enjoyment? Is there no enjoyment to be had from discussing politics with fellow citizens?

          • LeeEsq

            1. This is really stupid. What if this particular public park was the only accessible to many Oakland residents because they don’t have cars and public transportation in Oakland tends to be spotty.

            2. Yes but one group doesn’t have exclusive rights to public open spaces over other groups. If the Koch brothers paid the City of Oakland a few million dollars for a year around Tea Party than most of us would object to the misuse of public parks.

            3. I’m pretty sure that most people want to use the public parks as parks and very few want to hear the noise of a political rally or religious revival or LARP or engage in political debate.

            • 1. Oscar Grant / City Hall / Frank Ozaga Plaza is within 4 blocks of a number of other parks: Snow, Lafayette, Lincoln, and Madison. Google Maps is your friend: http://bit.ly/uU77YX. Here is the list of all Oakland City Parks: http://www.oaklandnet.com/parks/parks/parkslisting.asp?pgSet=all.

              2. Get back to me when your Kock Bros / Tea Party idea becomes something other than your grasping for straws hypothetical.

              3. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my many years on blogs, it’s that when someone says “I’m pretty sure that most people want X” then you know they have zero evidence to back their assertions.

              • Paging Dr Freud! I really did mean to spell it “Koch”!

              • Ogawa Plaza.

                What is wrong with my spelling tonight?

              • 1. Who are you to determine how much park access is enough for the Oakland public? Who elected you to anything?

                I don’t even think we need to get to the Tea Party or Citibank here. If Pop Warner Football unilaterally decided that some public passive park was now going to be their practice facility every afternoon from 3-7PM, without the city’s permission, is there even a ghost of a chance you’d make this argument?

                2. I assure you, different groups having different agendas for the programming of a public park is not hypothetical, nor does it involve grasping at straws. It involves softball players and frisbee throwers pushing and yelling at each other every single day in this country, and a lot of heated night meetings for park boards.

                3. As opposed to Who says the Occupy site prevented anyone from enjoyment? Is there no enjoyment to be had from discussing politics with fellow citizens?, which is the gold standard for demonstrating that John Q. Public cannot possibly be more interested in the internet commenter’s politics, and is thrilled at the idea of his neighborhood park being taken over for the cause.

          • Why not sell off a playground in Oakland to Citibank for a corporate tower?

            1. There are other public parks in Oakland.

            2. The public includes Citibank employees.

            3. Isn’t there enjoyment to be had in banking? They’ve got lollipops!

            3. is especially pernicious. Who are you to decide that your preferred use is the only one that will be allowed in a park? That is a decision that needs to be made democratically, and involving all stakeholders.

            • Joe, this is a false analogy, as the Occupy movement is not a corporation, nor has it ever “privatized” anything. Occupy sites are public by definition, for if politics isn’t public nothing is.

              • LeeEsq

                The Occupy movement is taking over a public space for an unspecified length of time for their exclusive use though.

                • You’ve never been to an Occupy site have you? The whole structure (the GA, the human mic, etc) is about inclusion. Nobody checks your badge at the gate, because there are no badges and no gates. And people do all sorts of things at the site besides talking politics: music, yoga, hacky-sack, reading, you name it, all sorts of things people do in parks.

                • Oh, you get to do the things that the Occupiers are ok with you doing?

                  Yipee. But it’s ok, because they’re the good guys. So they get to take over a park.

                • Joe, this is a false analogy, as the Occupy movement is not a corporation, nor has it ever “privatized” anything.

                  Ahem: “Whose park? Our park! Whose park? Our park!”

                • Malaclypse

                  “Whose park? Our park! Whose park? Our park!”

                  But there is a difference between Occupy asserting that they have a right to be there, as opposed to asserting a right to exclude others.

                  I see the chant as making the former assertion, not the latter.

                • But there is a difference between Occupy asserting that they have a right to be there, as opposed to asserting a right to exclude others.

                  There is indeed.

                  Saying that a public park belongs to you is the latter. If something is yours, you get to decide what is done with it.

                  I really can’t believe you’d make this argument. Since when does one declare ownership of a public space in order to assert one’s right to use it?

                  It’s not their park; it’s the City of New York’s park.

                • Malaclypse

                  Since when does one declare ownership of a public space in order to assert one’s right to use it?

                  Since people with guns and gas assert that you have no right to use it.

                • Since people with guns and gas assert that you have no right to use it.

                  False. The right of the public to use a public park has absolutely nothing to do with asserting exclusive ownership or control over it.

                  It is not their park, no matter how sympathetic you are to their cause, or how much you dislike the police response.

                • Also, the people with the guns and tear gas did not assert that the protesters have no right to use the park.

                  They asserted that they have no right to do certain things in the park, or use certain equipment, or be there for certain hours. You will find that just about every urban park, as well as every National Park, has restrictions on activities, equipment, and time.

                • Malaclypse

                  But Joe, who have they excluded? Unless I am misunderstanding, your entire argument rests on the fact that “whose park, our park” flows better than “whose park, everybody’s park” as a chant.

                  If all you have is a chant, that you insist must be heard in a hyper-literal manner, while ignoring other actual practices, then I think you have gone out past being on a limb, out onto a little twig.

                • But Joe, who have they excluded?

                  Not who, what, and I’ve already answered this question several times.

                  A football club that takes over a passive park is denying others the right to use the park as a passive park, even if they let others come in and play football.

                  Unless I am misunderstanding

                  I think you’re pretty clearly deliberately misunderstanding. You cannot possibly, in good faith, think that what have written is about how a chant “flows.”

                  You’re no longer arguing in good faith. You’re casting about for reasons to defend a side, and willfully ignoring my arguments.

                • Malaclypse

                  Yes, Joe, I do not think they are excluding people. I genuinely do not believe that. I genuinely believe that your hyper-literal interpretation of a chant is silly.

                  As is this argument, so I bow out. Feel free to have the last work, and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

                • Yes, Joe, I do not think they are excluding people.

                  Neither do I, as I just wrote in the very comment you replied to. Explicitly. In black and white:

                  Not who, what, and I’ve already answered this question several times.

                  This is what I mean by “bad faith” and “deliberately misunderstanding.”

                  I genuinely believe that your hyper-literal interpretation of a chant is silly.

                  I genuinely do believe that your pretense of thinking my argument is about a chant is being made in bad faith, for the purpose of avoiding my actual argument. Sort of like your obsessive focus on the history on that one national park in order to avoid acknowledging that there are use restrictions, some related to noise, some done for the purpose of promoting quiet relaxation over other uses, in national and other parks all across the country.

                  As is this argument, so I bow out.

                  This was a very meaningful argument until you decided to pretend it was about the flow of a chant and “classes of people.”

              • as the Occupy movement is not a corporation,

                Way to prove my point! “It’s ok, because they’re the good guys.” Nice principles.

                nor has it ever “privatized” anything

                When something that was available for public use is transfered to private, exclusive use, it’s been privatized.

      • As long as Occupy Oakland doesn’t lead to an actual public health problem, or an actual crime wave, the correct thing is to do nothing. If protestors take over a city park for a year-long protest, well, Oakland will survive.

        I think you’re letting your affinity for the protesters get in the way here.

        If PepsiCo had taken over a community playground with an advertising tent and a vending booth for a year, well, Oakland will survive, but I doubt your reaction would be the same.

        Cities can survive the privatization of their public spaces, sure. That’s a pretty low bar.

        • Malaclypse

          If PepsiCo had taken over a community playground with an advertising tent and a vending booth for a year, well, Oakland will survive, but I doubt your reaction would be the same.

          All summer long, private companies set up vending booths (mainly ice cream) on the grounds of my local library. Those companies are very clearly advertising as well. Those private companies don’t discourage anybody from using the library grounds; in fact, the activities quite obviously lead to greater use of the park.

          Now yes, some people do lose – I see fewer dog-walkers than when the grounds are empty. But on the whole, people like going where there are crowds.

          I don’t see how Occupy is discouraging people from using parks.

          • Uncle Kvetch

            When Fashion Week was held in NYC’s Bryant Park (before moving to Lincoln Center), it effectively took over the entire park for two weeks out of every year, rendering it unusable for any other purpose.

            OWS just needs to find some corporate tie-ins and they’re good to go.

            • When Fashion Week was held in NYC’s Bryant Park (before moving to Lincoln Center), it effectively took over the entire park for two weeks out of every year, rendering it unusable for any other purpose.

              ,,,,after having received a permit to do so from the democratically-legitimate local parks board.

              There are all sorts of different uses to which park land can be put. There are often competing ideas about what the best use of a park should be. You should see the fights that take place between baseball leagues and people who want to sit quietly on blankets.

              These conflicts are rightfully resolved in a democratically-legitimate manner by the local community, not by one side physically taking the park over and insisting that they will do what they want.

            • Hogan

              It would also help to have a date certain for the end of the event. If Fashion Week went on for two months and showed every sign of wanting to continue indefinitely, the corporate tie-ins might not weigh so heavily.

          • Those private companies don’t discourage anybody from using the library grounds; in fact, the activities quite obviously lead to greater use of the park.

            The problem is the presence of a corporate vendor; it’s exclusion of other uses. Vendors can have a very positive influence on a park, because they don’t generally deny its use to anyone else.

            • Malaclypse

              The problem is the presence of a corporate vendor; it’s exclusion of other uses.

              Fair enough; that was unclear in your example.

              But I don’t see how Occupy is excluding anybody.

              • Er, isn’t, that is. But you seem to have gotten that.

                But I don’t see how Occupy is excluding anybody.

                There are two basic dynamics: monopolizing the space, and imposing the programming. Occupiers who fill up a park, or nearly so, are basically squeezing them out. Occupies who turn a park into a protest zone full of crowds make it impossible for others to use it as a quiet, soothing passive park.

                Neither of which are terrible things in an of themselves, but decisions about the rightful use of public space should be made by the democratically-legitimate authorities charged with making those decisions.

                • Malaclypse

                  Occupies who turn a park into a protest zone full of crowds make it impossible for others to use it as a quiet, soothing passive park.

                  Several years ago, a friend and I rode bikes up the trails to the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. We got to the top of the trail, and started picking blueberries in a field while resting from the ride.

                  After a few minutes, a couple arrived. They walked up to us, and asked us to leave, as they wanted solitude.

                  These people were, in my opinion, then and now, assholes.

                  My point is that people really do not have grounds for a complaint if they find other people using a public space. Parks are for people to use. Nobody is entitled to solitude in a public space.

                • Having other people in your vision doesn’t change the use of a National Park.

                  Having a passive park taken over by protesters does.

                  My point is that people really do not have grounds for a complaint if they find other people using a public space.

                  This really isn’t true. If the people using the public space are doing so in a manner that makes it impossible to use for its intended programming, such that you are not able to take advantage of that programming, you certainly do have a right to complain. Go lay a blanket down in the middle of a softball field that a team has signed up to use (or, go start a softball came in a passive park where people lay on blankets), and see what happens.

                  It’s funny to me to see people taking the tack that the Occupy protests aren’t really a program, aren’t really a use of space, but are just some people being in a park. Um, they call themselves the “Occupy” movement. That’s what they’re doing.

                • …espcially since the occupiers clearly know darn well that they are taking over a public space (“Whose park? Our park!”) and are clearly doing so for the purpose of being confrontational.

                • Malaclypse

                  Go lay a blanket down in the middle of a softball field that a team has signed up to use (or, go start a softball came in a passive park where people lay on blankets), and see what happens.

                  I don’t disagree with this example, but I also don’t see Occupy as preventing any reasonable usage of a public space.

                • Sitting quietly in a quite space is “unreasonable?”

                • …and don’t give me “They can still sit and be quiet, even though there are thousands of people marching and protesting and shouting and drumming around them.” There are bans on amplified music in parks all over the country, specifically because having such a presence changes the experience of being the park.

                  They’re changing the use and programming of the park, from what it was to something else.

                • Malaclypse

                  Sitting quietly in a quite space is “unreasonable?”

                  I think that expecting quiet in a public space is indeed unreasonable, yes.

                • Actually, many parks are designed and programmed specifically for the purpose of providing people with quiet spaces to sit – refuges from the crowds and noise of the city. This was the primary driver of the creation of urban park systems in the 1800s.

                  You mentioned cycling in a National Park. Did you hear any motorized vehicles? Why do think that is?

                • Malaclypse

                  Why do think that is?

                  In this specific case, the park was originally Rockefeller’s estate, and while he was wrong about many, many things, he nevertheless found the internal combustion engine to be a loathsome device, and built a series of carriage roads. The roads would not be safely useable by cars.

                  But horses do use them, and I as a bicyclist did need to be aware of and accommodate horse traffic, regardless of the fact that the presence of horses decreased my selfish enjoyment.

                • Malaclypse

                  Link about how these trails were very specifically designed to not ever be used by automobiles.

                • And motor bikes? And ATVs?

                  This has actually been a hotly-debated issue for years: should recreational off-roaders be allowed to use the trails in National Parks, or only hikers, cyclists, and the horsey set?

                • Malaclypse

                  Well, again, in my example the trails were designed very specifically to exclude internal combustion engines forever.

                  Also, I see a rather large difference between excluding classes of vehicles and excluding classes of people.

                • Well, again, in my example the trails were designed very specifically to exclude internal combustion engines forever.

                  Your example is not the only one. Uses are, indeed, excluded from parks all the time, and this is often done because the park management has decided to promote certain uses, and wished to exclude other uses that interfere with it.

                  Also, I see a rather large difference between excluding classes of vehicles and excluding classes of people.

                  Straw man. Nobody is talking about excluding classes of people. This is about excluding classes of uses. All classes of people can use the park; the issue what they can and cannot do, and what equipment than can and cannot use.

    • MikeJake

      You’re letting her off too easy. It’s a simple issue: does Mayor Quan support the right of her constituents to peaceably assemble and protest? If she does, is sending in the police to evict the protestors consistent with that belief? Was there a true public interest in use of the public spaces that the protestors were interfering with, or was this interest purely hypothetical? And whether it’s consistent or not, did she demonstrate leadership by not even being in the city when her orders were being carried out?

      And how progressive is she truly? Anyone who has attended college probably knew plenty of people like Jean Quan, involved in all manner of causes. Being cynical, I tended to regard such people as being more interested in padding their grad school applications and resumes than in furthering genuine progressive beliefs.

      • It’s a simple issue: does Mayor Quan support the right of her constituents to peaceably assemble and protest?

        It is not a simple issue, because that is not the only consideration Mayor Quan needs to take into account. She, presumably, also supports the right of her constituents to use a park as a park. We’ve got two mandates that clash here. The time-and-place restrictions on public gatherings exemplified by the parade permit are an example of governments attempting to reconcile these two mandates.

        Was there a true public interest in use of the public spaces that the protestors were interfering with, or was this interest purely hypothetical?

        That taking over a public park for one’s own use denies the use of that space to the public is a rebuttable presumption, but it’s the presumption nonetheless.

        • MikeJake

          That taking over a public park for one’s own use denies the use of that space to the public is a rebuttable presumption, but it’s the presumption nonetheless.

          I’m sure Mayor Quan would like it to be considered a rebuttal presumption. That gives her something to hide behind. Even if it’s a reasonable consideration, her actions and the actions of the police were entirely unreasonable, and she deserves the criticism she’s received.

          • I’m sure Mayor Quan would like it to be considered a rebuttal presumption.

            The rather inarguable point that people shouldn’t be allowed to take over public parks doesn’t become any less inarguable because, at this particular moment, it’s inconvenient for your political purposes.

            Even if it’s a reasonable consideration, her actions and the actions of the police were entirely unreasonable, and she deserves the criticism she’s received.

            Indeed. Let’s just keep it clear exactly what she deserved criticism for.

  • Quan was elected to the be the Mayor of Oakland and her primary job is pretty much ensuring that the City of Oakland runs smoothly and provides services to the residents of Oakland rather than being a progressive activitist.

    You just look at the job descriptions. Progressive activists do one thing, mayors do a different thing. Simple. Division of labor.

  • Ben

    Another good essay along these same lines was in the London Review of Books a few years ago. A blind orphan had an early commitment to social justice forged in state-run orphanages and schools. He went into politics and created a quasi-autonomous socialist commune as a mayor in the English countryside. But he was elevated to a high position in the Blair cabinet and became the architect of much of their anti-terror security apparatus, which is just as scary as ours.

    No institution with sufficient power allows the people who control it to leave that power undeployed.

  • BradP

    This blog can be dopey at times.

    How could solidly progressive activists be put in charge a structure filled to the brim with the elite class and that serves to arbitrate between interests and hand out license and privilege and stop being solidly progressive? Its a flippin’ mystery!

    Just the other day, my coworker was promoted and all of a sudden he felt he was entitled to boss me around. What gives?

    I’m sure if Quan had more discretionary power she would return to her more benevolent ways.

    • BradP

      I don’t know if I can salvage that second sentence, so make what you wish of it.

    • This blog can be dopey at times.

      Hi BradP! Any commenters who are dopey at times?

  • Ben F

    I’m seeing some parallels with Quan and a mayor of the past, Jerome Cavanagh of Detroit during the 60s, and who was doing an alright job as mayor… until the riots. (The main difference is that in Detroit, the police overreach happened first, followed by rioting, rather than the other way around. Oh yeah, also the fact that in Oakland, it hasn’t gotten to the point of rioting yet.)

    • Another example is Ole Hanson, the mayor of Seattle during the 1919 General Strike. Elected with labor support, he completely turned his back on working-class people during 1919. After he put down the strike, he toured America touting himself as the man who saved America from the Bolsheviks, hoping to make himself a national-level politician.

  • wengler

    Progressive politicians side with money and power because they have money and power. SASQ.

    Also Oscar Grant has a lot more salience to Occupy Oakland protestors than Frank Ogawa.

  • thanatz

    That Oakland’s supposed racial homogeneity (!) is what led them to rename Frank Ogawa Plaza is quite literally laughable.

    And it’s so sad that Oscar Grant got shot for his melanin deficiency.

    • It’s not Oakland’s racial homogeneity, it’s the movement’s. Read more carefully.

      Also, and I didn’t mention this, too many people still see race as black v. white. It was insensitive to change the name of one of the only public spaces in the country named after an Asian-American.

      • LeeEsq

        My basic theory is that Asian-Americans aren’t really viewed as begin a “real” minority because discrimination against Asians hasn’t played much of a role in the narrative of the American left and right.

        • *Offer not valid in Lowell, Massachusetts.

          Asian-Americans are sure as hell viewed as real minorities ’round these parts.

  • thanatz

    While not disputing the fact that nationally the occupy movement is predominantly white, Oakland’s GA is not administered and operated by some national council, but rather by local citizens. As one of those citizens, I find the proposition that “the movement” as it manifests itself through it’s Oakland instantiation is racially homogeneous to be rather glaringly incorrect.

    Moreover if we were to take the proposition as fact the argument then is what? That the movement’s overwhelming whiteness is what led them to rename the plaza in honor of a murdered black youth? OK.

    All that said I do find the occupy movement’s participation in the effacement of the memory of Frank Ogawa to be one of the more regrettable ramifications of their project.

    • Lee

      I think that Erik’s argument is that the Occupy Oakland is demonstrating extreme insensitivity against Asian-Americans by renaming Frank Ogawa Plaza. This is because the action ignores the discimination and racism faced by Asian-Americans, which was especially pronouced in California and other West Coast states.

      Its like Erik stated in his reply to thanatz, a lot of people oversimplify the race issue in America to white and black or what, black, and Hispanic at best. The racism faced by other groups like Asian-Americans is basically ignored and doesn’t play much of a role in discussion about race in America.

      Although, I wonder if this has to do a lot with the demographics of the Asian-American community. Most Asian-Americans are either immigrants or the first and second generation of immigrants. Very few are the descendants of Asians that managed to get into the United States before the various exclusion acts. Most of them don’t seem to even identify with this group. Most Asian-Americans originate from a time when racism against Asians was more or less on decline compared to racism against Blacks and Hispanics. Many are or were Republican. This might contribute to the absence of Asians in most of America’s racial dialog.

      • “Most Asian-Americans are either immigrants or the first and second generation of immigrants.”

        Except in the Bay Area, where you have long-standing Chinese and Japanese-American communities going back more than a century.

        • Lee

          Yes, thats true but even then I’m guessing that if you did a demographic survey, most Chinese and Japanese Americans are going to be people who immgirated after the INA or their children and grandchildren. Most of the newer ones probably feel very little connection to previous generations of Asian-Americans. At least this is true in my experience as an immigration lawyer.

          I think there were around 100,000 Chinese Americans in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. Now there over three million, most of them came over after 1965. The previous struggles, even in the mid-twentieth century ones, are really not part of their story. I work with Asian immigrants so this is based on first hand knowledge.

  • Rather than try to embed this, I thought I’d just put it here. I think the discussion between JFL and Mal comes down to a few distinctions. I’m not going to argue one side or the other; I just want to see if I’ve got the right distinctions, that is, those that drive the inability to agree.

    1. Between the First Amendment right (“to peaceably assemble…”) and the 14th Amendment right to equal treatment. (If I understand JFL’s position correctly, it could be said that he’s arguing that Occupy pre-empts the rights of others to use the park, and thus if the govt accommodates them, they are getting unfair privileges: they didn’t go through the right democratically established procedures to get use of the park.)

    2. Between direct and representative democracy. Occupy is an experiment in direct democracy (the GA), but our system is representative. I think you could say that in the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances, there’s an implicit reference to direct democracy, but the two sense of democracy are not the same.

    • Malaclypse

      I think our difference is empirical: is Occupy asserting the right to exclusive use? If they are, I agree that that is wrong. But if they are merely asserting the right to be among the users of a park, then I think that their use is reasonable.

      But I think that joe’s interpretation of “Whose park? Our park! Whose park? Our park!” is strained beyond reasonableness.

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