In 1993, I was preparing to move to Ann Arbor, Mich., for graduate school when a friend, a Korean American, gave me a few words of advice:
1993年,我正准备搬到密歇根州安娜堡读研究生,一位韩裔美国人朋友送给我一句忠言:
“Vincent Chin, man.”
“伙计,听说过陈果仁吧。”
I’d never heard of Vincent Chin. But then I read about his killing about 10 years earlier near Detroit, not so far from Ann Arbor. He was fatally beaten with a baseball bat by an autoworker at a time when the American auto industry was on its knees and Japan’s was ascendant.
我从没听说过陈果仁。但后来我了解到,大约10年前,他在底特律附近被杀,离安娜堡不远。他被一名汽车工人用棒球棒殴打致死,当时,美国汽车业一蹶不振,而日本汽车业正在崛起。
Mr. Chin was of Chinese descent, not Japanese. But no matter. His assailant, Ronald Ebens, allegedly sneered at him at a strip club where Mr. Chin, 27, was celebrating his impending marriage: “It’s because of you,” Mr. Ebens said, using a pejorative, “that we’re out of work.”
陈果仁是华裔,不是日本人。但这并不重要。当时,27岁的陈果仁正在一家脱衣舞俱乐部举行结婚前的单身派对,据称,袭击者罗纳德·埃本斯对他大加嘲讽,夹杂着脏话说,“我们丢了工作都是因为你。”
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Mr. Ebens pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors in county court. His stepson, who had been laid off from his job as an autoworker, was with Ebens when the attack occurred. Ebens’s stepson held Mr. Chin when Mr. Ebens first struck him. The stepson pleaded no contest to the same charge. They were each fined roughly $3,000 and put on probation but received no jail time. Efforts to prosecute them on federal charges of violating Mr. Chin’s civil rights ultimately failed. Both men said they were not motivated by racial hatred. But reading about Mr. Chin’s killing changed my perspective about who I was. Like Vincent Chin, I was from a Chinese family. But I also began to think of myself as an Asian American.
埃本斯与县法院检察官达成认罪协商,承认犯有过失杀人罪。埃本斯的继子是一名失业的汽车工人,案发时和埃本斯在一起。埃本斯第一次击打陈果仁时,他的继子抱住了陈果仁。面对同样的指控,继子没有认罪。他们每人被罚款约3000美元并处以缓刑,但没有被判入狱。联邦曾指控他们侵犯陈果仁的公民权利,但这项努力最终失败了。两人都表示,他们的动机不是种族仇恨。但读到陈果仁被杀事件的新闻改变了我对自己身份的看法。和他一样,我来自一个华裔家庭。但我也开始认为自己是一个亚裔美国人。
I wasn’t alone.
这样想的并不止我一个。
“Before the Vincent Chin case, it’s fair to say there weren’t Asian Americans,” the legal scholar Frank Wu argued in a documentary film about the legacy of Mr. Chin’s murder, “Vincent Who?” — meaning that until the 1980s, we Asians did not see ourselves as having much in common with one another. But stereotypes like the “perpetual foreigner” exposed our shared vulnerability to discrimination and united us as a group whether we knew it or not. Asian American identity was grounded in race.
在关于陈果仁被谋杀的影响的纪录片《谁是陈果仁?》(Vincent Who?)中,法律学者吴华扬表示:“在陈果仁案之前,可以说没有亚裔美国人这个概念。”这句话的意思是,直到上世纪80年代,我们亚裔并不认为彼此之间有多少共同点。但是像“永远的外国人”这样的刻板印象暴露出我们在歧视面前的共同弱点,也将我们团结成一个群体,无论我们是否有这样的意识。亚裔美国人的身份认同是基于种族的。
陈余琼芳拿着儿子陈果仁的照片。
陈余琼芳拿着儿子陈果仁的照片。 Richard Sheinwald/Associated Press
Today, race, rather than ethnicity or nationality, also appears to explain the spike in anti-Asian violence in the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic. Those assaulting Asian Americans in cities across the country do not seem to differentiate between Asian Americans and Asian nationals. But being Japanese in Detroit in 1982 was as pejorative for economic reasons — what the Japanese did in transforming their country into an industrial powerhouse — as for racial reasons. These tensions coincided with the rise of a neoliberal ideology evidenced by accelerating deindustrialization. With the United States facing a powerful Asian rival, it would lay the groundwork for today’s anti-Asian backlash.
今天,种族——而非民族或国籍——似乎也解释了在新冠大流行期间美国反亚裔暴力事件的激增。在全国各地,亚裔美国人的袭击者似乎并没有区分亚裔美国人和亚洲国家的人。但在1982年,在底特律身为日本人是具有贬义的,不但有经济原因(日本人为了将自己的国家转变为工业强国所做的努力),也有种族原因。这些紧张局势恰逢新自由主义意识形态的兴起,表现为去工业化的加速。今天,美国面临一个强大的亚洲竞争对手,为反亚裔攻击奠定了基础。
In the late 1970s, Chrysler’s woes signaled the beginning of a comprehensive decline in domestic manufacturing. By 1980, Japan’s auto industry outpaced America’s for the first time. Chrysler avoided bankruptcy in 1979 only by securing $1.5 billion in federal loans. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan decided not to extend voluntary quotas on Japanese auto imports, citing the need for “free and fair trade.”
1970年代后期,克莱斯勒汽车的困境标志着国内制造业全面衰退的开始。到1980年,日本的汽车工业首次超过美国。克莱斯勒在1979年获得15亿美元的联邦贷款才免于破产。1985年,罗纳德·里根总统决定不再延长日本汽车进口的自愿配额,理由是需要“自由和公平的贸易”。
Today the Asian tiger in question is not Japan but China. In 2016, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump vented, “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.” As president, Mr. Trump whipped up anti-Asian fervor by pointedly referring to Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus,” a term that predictably caught on as a slur to refer to Asian people in general.
今天的亚洲对手不是日本而是中国。2016年,作为总统候选人,唐纳德·特朗普发泄说:“我们不能继续让中国强奸我们的国家。”作为总统,特朗普明确地将新冠病毒称为“中国病毒”来激起反亚裔情绪,这个词不出意料地成为了泛指亚裔的诽谤性叫法。
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China was to blame for the disruption of our accustomed way of life and the mounting death toll, the story went, not the Trump administration’s bungled and insufficient public health response whose goal was a quick return to business as usual. And by condemning China and waging an isolationist trade war, Trump gave cover to the rest of his economic agenda — deregulation and big corporate tax cuts.
他们的叙事是这样的,我们习惯的生活方式遭到破坏,死亡人数不断增加,这都要归咎于中国,而不应该归咎于特朗普政府拙劣不力的公共卫生应对措施,这些措施的目标是迅速恢复正常运转。通过谴责中国并发动孤立主义贸易战,特朗普为他的其他经济议程——放松管制和大规模企业减税——提供了掩护。
Less bombastic in his exhortations, President Joe Biden nevertheless also evokes the specter of China to urge a retreat from the failed policies of past administrations.
拜登总统敦促从过去政府的失败政策中撤退,虽然他的劝告没有那么夸张,但仍然引发了人们对中国的担忧
In his 2022 State of the Union address, Mr. Biden pledged to “transform America and put us on a path to win the economic competition of the 21st century that we face with the rest of the world — particularly China,” as if China were particularly responsible for razing the fortunes of the working class. He called on Congress to pass the Bipartisan Innovation Act, which, among its provisions, would subsidize domestic semiconductor production.
在2022年的国情咨文演讲中,拜登承诺“改变美国,让我们走上一条赢得在21世纪与世界其他地区——尤其是中国——进行经济竞争的道路”,仿佛中国对摧毁工人阶级的命运尤其负有责任。他呼吁国会通过《两党创新法案》,法案中包括补贴国内半导体生产。
“It’s no wonder the Chinese Communist Party is literally lobbying — paying lobbyists — against this bill passing,” Mr. Biden said last month, seeming to suggest that the ideology at fault for deindustrialization is not neoliberalism but communism.
“怪不得中共真的在游说——通过付钱给游说者的方式——反对这项法案的通过,”拜登上个月说,他似乎在暗示,导致去工业化的过错方是共产主义,而不是新自由主义。
To the extent that we regard anti-Asian violence as essentially a race problem, our search will tend to be for anti-racist solutions, like new hate crime legislation, that may not adequately account for the economic inequality behind the violence. In 2021, Mr. Biden signed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, making the reporting of hate crimes easier and expediting the review process. Yet that same year, only seven of 233 anti-Asian attacks reported in New York City led to a guilty plea to a hate crime, according to a report released this year by the Asian American Bar Association of New York and dedicated to the memory of Mr. Chin.
在一定程度上,我们将反亚裔暴力本质上视为种族问题,所以我们倾向于寻找反种族主义的解决方案,例如新的仇恨犯罪立法,但这可能无法充分解释暴力背后的经济不平等。2021年,拜登签署了《新冠仇恨犯罪法》,使上报仇恨犯罪变得更加容易,并加快了审查过程。然而,根据纽约亚裔美国人律师协会今年发布的一份纪念陈果仁的报告,纽约市同年报告的233起反亚裔袭击事件中,只有7起承认犯下仇恨犯罪。
In 1982, Mr. Chin was made into a scapegoat not only for Japanese autoworkers and executives but also for a deteriorating way of life for those once solidly in the middle class but quickly falling out of it. Today, Asian Americans are not only the scapegoat for Xi Jinping or duplicitous Chinese C.E.O.s. We are also the scapegoat for a fading sense of well-being in a market-driven and hypercompetitive society. Anti-Asian violence will continue to be a fact of life so long as racist “yellow peril” messaging about China continues and is allowed to cover up the deep structural forces that have produced generational division and alienation in America. I hope Mr. Chin becomes an even more potent symbol of overdue justice not only for Asian Americans but for all Americans who know their worth is more than what racism and capitalism demand.
1982年,陈果仁不仅仅是日本汽车工人和高管的代罪羔羊。那些曾经稳固地处于中产阶级的人迅速跌落,陈果仁也成了他们生活一落千丈的代罪羔羊。今天,亚裔美国人不仅是习近平或搞两面派的中国CEO的代罪羔羊。在市场驱动和竞争激烈的社会中,我们还为一种正在消退的幸福感背锅。只要关于中国的种族主义“黄祸”信息继续存在,并被允许用来掩盖在美国造成代际分裂和疏远的深层结构性力量,反亚裔暴力将继续存在。我希望陈果仁成为逾期正义的更强有力的象征——不仅对亚裔美国人,而且是对所有知道自身价值超越了种族主义和资本主义索求的美国人来说。