The Committee of 100 has responded firmly to an opinion piece by Charles C. Johnson in the July 29 Wall Street Journal entitled “The New Chinese Exclusion Act; Self-appointed civil rights defenders support rules that keep Asian kids out of top schools.”
Johnson asserts that there is “deep irony” in U.S. Representative Judy Chu’s sponsorship of the recent Resolution calling on Congress to acknowledge and express regret for the sixty years that Chinese in the U.S. suffered under the national Chinese Exclusion policy (1870-1943) [see C-100 Issues Update for details]. He then goes on to say that Chu “supports the most harmful form of anti-Asian discrimination in the U.S. today: racial preferences in hiring and university admissions,” in other words affirmative action.
Mr. Johnson's piece does not speak to the substance of that resolution, which has had broad bipartisan support in both houses. Mr. Johnson’s piece focuses on other issues, such as the voting record for a single supporter and should not be seen as a critique of the resolution itself.
These were the only laws in our nation’s history that specifically excluded an entire people from the promises of American freedom and citizenship solely on the basis of race. At a time when the Statue of Liberty seemed to welcome the tired and poor with open arms, the Chinese, and the Chinese alone, were turned away. Moreover, tens of thousands of law-abiding immigrants already in the United States, who had worked for decades to help build this nation's railroads, farm its fields and fish its waters, were barred from becoming U.S. citizens. That status then barred them from the ownership of land, access to public education and voting — all denials of "equal protection" under our nation's laws. These were overtly racist laws with bitter results that blighted the lives of many thousands of innocent people for generations.
The Committee of 100 believes Congress has both the capacity and responsibility to recognize such grave injustices of its own making and should acknowledge past legislative errors such as the Chinese Exclusion Laws forthwith.