Thing Three: Dr. Seuss, Rap and Racism?

Mandeville Special Collections Library, U.C. San Diego Image from “Dr. Seuss Went to War.”
Mandeville Special Collections Library, U.C. San Diego Image from “Dr. Seuss Went to War.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, is the inspiration for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association. He lends his birthday, March 2, to the national cause. Read Across America brings millions of parents into classrooms on March 2 to read with their kids. According to The New York Times, Dr. Seuss was known for his “avant-garde sympathy for African Americans” (long before the rise of the civil rights movement), but during World War II, Seuss drew dozens of cartoons for the left-wing tabloid P.M., publishing a series of caricatures of the Japanese and Japanese Americans that are revolting to look at now.

According to The Times, “Many of them feature drawings of Hitler and General Tojo that are far more savage in their depiction of Tojo, including one in which Hitler and Tojo are imagined carved into Mount Rushmore.” But the most startling and upsetting of these cartoons, which was published on Feb. 13, 1942, shows a long line of Japanese Americans, an “honorable fifth column” spreading from California into Oregon and beyond, with each smiling person waiting to pick up a package of TNT. They are, a caption explains, “waiting for the signal from home” [image above]. It does not help Seuss’s cause when we learn that President Roosevelt signed the executive order authorizing internment a week after this cartoon came out, although, of course, the planning for relocating Japanese Americans was long under way. It turns out that Asian American educational groups protested against Seuss being chosen as the patron saint of Read Across America for precisely this reason.

John Liu’s Path to a 2020 White House Run

John Liu and his family celebrate his appointment as New York City’s Comptroller. Photo credit: Associated Press.
John Liu and his family celebrate his appointment as New York City’s Comptroller. Photo credit: Associated Press.

John Liu can’t become President of the United States because he was born in Taiwan. But as of now he’s the only Asian American politician who’s enough of a strategist and a scrapper to have a realistic shot at the job in 2020. Liu, the current New York City Comptroller, first has his sights on the Mayor’s seat, but expressed an aspiration for the White House. The influential blog, AngryAsianMan, comments: “We’ve had some very good Asian American political leaders. Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, California Congressman Norman Mineta, and former Washington Governor/current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are examples of effective, admirable leaders. But none have had the fire in the belly to claw and fight their way to the top, to become king of the hill though all are natural-born citizens. Liu does in spades.”

“I would very much like to be the president of the United States and the leader of the free world,” Liu told the press without the least hesitation just a year after taking over the New York City Comptroller’s job. “I’d like to do anything that allows me to have the maximum impact possible.” And he had the audacity to point out that although he wasn’t born in the United States, having immigrated from Taiwan at the age of five, that it’s not impossible for him to move into the White House since the U.S. Constitution can always be amended, as it has a few dozen times already. Liu has been winning fans as NYC’s version of the city auditor, by ‘calling out” the city crooks and having a backbone in addition to brains.

Asian Boyz Gang Boss Gets Life for 1990s Killings
A jury voted on March 7 to send a gang leader to prison for life without the possibility of parole, rather than to have him executed for his role in eight killings and 10 shootings in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. According to the Associated Press, Filipino American Marvin Mercado, 37, was one of the founders of the Asian Boyz gang, whose members numbered 200 by the mid-1990s. Most were in Southern California, police said. Seven of Mercado’s co-defendants had been convicted in 1999, but Mercado fled to the Philippines, eluding authorities for more than a decade.Mercado was convicted last month for the killings that occurred in the mid-1990s. Although a County Jail chaplain had testified that Mercado had undergone a “process of redemption” in prison, Prosecutor Hoon Chun dismissed the notion claiming Mercado used a false identity and deceived his wife after fleeing to the Philippines to escape punishment. “He was on the run for 10 years and then fought deportation for a little less than two years,” Chun said. “I’m not sure you can call that redemption.” He also said the jury’s vote is disappointing to the victims’ families, who have still not recovered from the slayings. Six of those killed were “completely innocent,” Chun said. Two others were rival gang members who were murdered in Van Nuys in April 1995. The gang initially engaged in property crimes against Southeast Asian immigrant businesses. Their downfall came when they started targeting rival gangs, police said.

The Most Typical Human Face In the World

Image credit: National Geographic.
Image credit: National Geographic.

This is apparently the most “typical” human face in the entire world. According to National Geographic researchers, the characteristics of the most common type of person on the planet – and there are 9 million of them – is a 28-year-old, right-handed Han Chinese man. The image is a composite of nearly 200,000 photos of men who fit this description, created for National Geographic’s year-long new series on the human race, “Population 7 billion.” National Geographic reports, “With the population still growing by about 80 million each year, it’s hard not to be alarmed. Right now on Earth, water tables are falling, soil is eroding, glaciers are melting, and fish stocks are vanishing. Close to a billion people go hungry each day. Decades from now, there will likely be two billion more mouths to feed, mostly in poor countries. There will be billions more people wanting and deserving to boost themselves out of poverty. If they follow the path blazed by wealthy countries—clearing forests, burning coal and oil, freely scattering fertilizers and pesticides—they too will be stepping hard on the planet’s natural resources.” The series asks, “How exactly is this going to work?”

The Happiest Man in America

Alvin Wong
Alvin Wong

The happiest man in America is a tall, Asian American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, this is the statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. The New York Times took it upon themselves to track someone down with these characteristics … and found him.

Meet Alvin Wong. He is a 5-foot-10, 69-year-old, Chinese American, Kosher-observing Jew, who’s married with children and lives in Honolulu. He runs his own health care management business and earns more than $120,000 a year. Reached by phone at his home (and referred to The Times by a local synagogue), Mr. Wong said that he was indeed a very happy person. He said that perhaps he manages to be the happiest man in America because “my life philosophy is, if you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to be pretty terrible for you.” He continued: “This is a practical joke, right?”

 

 

 

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