HUMAN 1C Chapter Notes - Chapter Um: Asian Americans, Symbolic Power, Pew Research Center
Course CodeHUMAN 1C
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What’s In a Name?
● there is little information, hence little public awareness, of the larger and more
complex historical context for U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia and for the
formation of Southeast Asian community in the U.S
● Moralizing ideology about bringing democracy to Asia veiled the realpolitic
underscored American objectives in Southeast Asia
● “The real domino to fall was american public opinion”
● Lack of attention to Cambodia and Laos
○ Held no value to the US
● The deliberate exportation of conflict into the two adjacent countries by both
communist and non-communist forces was driven by a strategic rationale that
remained fixed on South Vietnam.
● In Laos, the recruitment of highland ethnic minorities into the anti-communist
struggles served to minimize American casualties and shield U.S. involvement
from American public scrutiny
○ By 1972 more than 30% of the Laotian population had been displaced
from their homes
● In Cambodia, five times as many tons of bombs were dropped during the
five-year long war than on Japan during the entire World War II, rendering two
million out of the country’s seven million population into refugees in their own
● In diaspora, the war continues to haunt the surviving refugees.
○ In New Hampshire on July 14, 2001, Richard Labbe brutally murdered
Tung Phetakoune, an elderly Laotian man, as a “pay- back” for losing
relatives in Vietnam, while proclaiming to the police that “. . .those Asians
killed Americans and you won’t do anything about it so I will.”
● real and symbolic violence directed at Southeast Asian Americans is a legacy of
the war, an expression of the hate and resentment that still linger
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