为什么我们需要忏悔

参议院对19世纪与20世纪移民美国中国人道歉。这是象征性的可是还是中要的。

美国20多年前对二战时被关在集中营里的日裔美国公民道歉过。我看了一篇文章 为什么我们需要忏悔

Symbolic acts are important and more important that some of the other stuff they do.  I remember when I worked in Japan, I knew a Japanese telephone operator kept President George H. W. Bush’s moving apology to Japanese-Americans posted on her wall.  That was what America meant to her.
The Civil Rights Act of 1988 (HR442) awarded redress to all surviving internees or their relatives. President George Bush sent this formal apology letter along with a $20,000 check.
Nanfeng Chuang in July had an article by Xuexi Shibao (Study Times)  Deng Yuwen :” Why We Need to Repent” discussing articles by former Red Guards deeply regretting the terrible things that they did, and remarking how very many people harmed by the Cultural Revolution go to court and try to sue.  What they are really looking for is an apology.  Chinese culture for many Chinese is not about a god or ultimate concerns so there seems a certain lack in Chinese culture of the idea of repentence. The article ends we need to be able to confess/repent/apologize for the sake of our people and our country.
好在持此种认识的人渐渐多了起来。笔者读到的上述几篇文章,就表现了这种趋势,作为曾经的加害者,他们并没用多数人都在这样做为自己开脱,而是勇敢地选择了忏悔,这让人稍微宽心。历史不是冤冤相报,做恶者可以宽恕,但宽恕必须以悔罪为前提。若对自己的罪责没有一个基本的认识,不愿诚实地正视历史,真相只会被遮蔽,历史会在黑暗中越走越远。所以,我们需要忏悔,既为自己,也为民族和国家。
This article was also picked up in the August Xinhua Yuebao pp. 54 – 55, adding a photo of Wily Brandt kneeling in December 1970 at the monument to the Jews killed in the Warsaw ghetto.
缺少忏悔是致命缺陷
忏悔总是和遗忘连在一起的。
近日读到何方口述的他在张闻天落难时落井下石的文章,李华写的其在年轻时批斗的“反动军官”实为抗日军人的事,以及记述北京外国语大学几个曾经的红卫兵向被自己或“战友们”扇过耳光的老师道歉的文章,很是感慨。何方曾是张闻天的秘书,李华当年是一名农村青年,后来成为河北省美术协会会员,而那几个扇老师耳光的当年都是学生。

为什么我们需要忏悔

作者:邓聿文  来源:南风窗  日期:2011-07-15  浏览:1069
  缺少忏悔是致命缺陷
忏悔总是和遗忘连在一起的。
近日读到何方口述的他在张闻天落难时落井下石的文章,李华写的其在年轻时批斗的“反动军官”实为抗日军人的事,以及记述北京外国语大学几个曾经的红卫兵向被自己或“战友们”扇过耳光的老师道歉的文章,很是感慨。何方曾是张闻天的秘书,李华当年是一名农村青年,后来成为河北省美术协会会员,而那几个扇老师耳光的当年都是学生。这几篇文章让人震撼的其实并不是那个疯狂年代所发生的出卖与背叛、无知与暴力——这种事在很多“文革”亲历者的回忆中都有——而是他们对此种出卖与背叛、无知与暴力的深深的忏悔和赎罪。尽管对受害者来说,加害者的这些忏悔和赎罪来得太迟,但依然不失为弥足珍贵。
在中华民族的历史上,有过许多黑暗的时期。太遥远的就不去说它,与我们这几代人——活着或逝去的——有关的,是10年“文革”。无论在党的历史还是国家的历史上,“文革”都已被定性为一场浩劫。但从国家层面来说,官方公布的史料一般缺乏对历史细节的描写,后人在官方史料中,很难找到那种身临其境之感,从而产生只有历史亲历者才有的那种情愫,这使人们记住的也许只是一些抽象的结论。这种结论在时间的流逝下,如果不是对历史特别有兴趣,怕也只留下一点模糊的印象。
这个缺陷,一定程度上可以通过民间或私人的写史来加以弥补。中国是一个重史的国家,民间有修史的传统,所以我们看到,民间和私人这些年来对“文革”的描述和回忆,还是非常之多。不过,同样遗憾的是,从很多亲历者对“文革”的描述中,我们多半见到,要么是受害者对直接加害者和运动发动者的控诉——虽然从个人和国家的角度看,这种控诉有其必要,但控诉太多也给人一种这样的印象,似乎“文革”的灾难,只是发动者和加害者的错,自己则很清白;要么是把苦难作为一种资本来宣扬,似乎那是个值得记忆的美好年代,所谓青春无悔,这在一些曾经的红卫兵和上山下乡的知青写的回忆录中表现得尤其明显。上述两种对“文革”的私人回忆和叙述,虽然价值取向不同,但在剖析自我上,都有一个共同点:选择性还原历史,不敢或不愿触及自己灵魂的阴暗面。
对此,很多人可能会辩解,当初投身这场运动,是出于对领袖的崇拜和迷信,以及砸烂一个旧世界建设一个新世界的向往和狂热,用领袖的思想来代替自己的思考,或者纯粹出于一个年轻人的无知和叛逆。这种辩解不能说没有道理,但假如把责任全部推到受骗、无知、叛逆上,则在笔者看来,至少不诚实。从绝对的意义说,当一个人决定做某件事时,不可能只听“主义”的摆布而无利益的考量。即使确实是内心真诚地听从领袖的召唤,在那种狂热的环境中,也很难保证不会在随大溜时无形中伤害到另一个无辜之人,而成为一个事实上的加害者。倘若当初因为认识之故而认为自己的举动乃是革命的表现,并不觉得自己是在做错事,尚可理解,也情有可原,那么,今天还以当初的理由为自己的加害举措辩护,或者以大家都彼此彼此为自己寻求开脱,则是说不过去的。
人不是神仙,任何人都会犯错,甚至严重错误。何况在那个是非混淆的年代,自己在受害的同时加害别人完全是可能的。从许多人的回忆来看,或多或少都做过错事,伤害过别人。所以,问题不在于曾经的错误,而在于,事后尤其是在“文革”过去那么多年后,是否能够诚实地面对历史,认识到自己人性中阴暗的一面,并为自己曾经做过的蠢事、或被自己伤害过的人真诚道歉和悔过?遗憾的是,除了巴金等不多的人外,多数“文革”亲历者写的回忆文章,对自己在“文革”中受到的不公正对待或迫害念念不忘,而对自己曾经有过的加害行为避而不谈,或者虽然也承认做过错事,但并不肯对自己的错误举动认错,向受害者道歉,反把原因归结为外部环境所为。
对此,要坦率承认。缺少悔过和忏悔正是我们的一个致命缺陷。即使那些被誉为社会良知的知识分子,在他们的“文革”回忆录中,也鲜少听到忏悔的声音。“乐感文化”缺少敬畏精神
什么原因促使多数“文革”亲历者在面对历史时,不敢承认过错,为自己的灵魂忏悔?笔者认为,可能出在以下几个方面:
一是从文化看,在我们民族的文化基因里,缺少忏悔和赎罪的传统。中国的文化被学者李泽厚称为“乐感文化”,以区别于西方的“罪感文化”和东邻日本的“耻感文化”。如果说,“罪感文化”依靠启发人的良知,并通过忏悔和赎罪来减轻人的内心的犯罪感;那么,“乐感文化”正如这个名称所显示的,它更重视现世的快乐,企图通过在人的伦常日用的人生快乐中实现超越,这也就不可能给忏悔以位置。因为忏悔的前提是正视罪的存在。

中国文化的这一特点,根源在于性善论,所谓“人皆可以为尧舜”,因此,在我们的文化传统中,缺乏对人性中最深的黑暗—罪的认识与反省。我们的文化有懊悔、悔恨、悔过、悔悟,追悔莫及,悔不当初等,但就是没有悔改,没有对生命的忏悔,充其量,我们只能做到“认识错误并加以改正”,但不知道也不愿意知道罪为何物。用学术的语言说,人在中国文化的语境中是无欠缺的存在,并未犯有不完善罪,因而无需忏悔。
除此外,中国文化在主流上是不设定一个超越的、终极的、无限的存在为人的信仰对象的,而忏悔恰恰需要这样一个无限的信仰对象存在,如基督教中的上帝一样。另一方面,根据学者王晓华的观点,中国人虽然缺乏同一的超越的信仰对象,但又必须有所信仰,所以中国文化采取了将某些特殊人物神化的信仰策略,也就是把那些曾经存在过或正存在着的政治、军事、文化领袖,作为神化、信仰的对象,他们被认为是以国为家的精神家长。对于这些被神化的人物,人们的主导意识是服从。这说明,中国人精神上尚未普遍地成为个体,缺乏在内心法庭中审判自己的能力,他们可能会向“家长”认错或控诉,但不会向无限者忏悔。
在这一点上,中国的“乐感文化”实际与日本的“耻感文化”是一致的,而迥异于西方的“罪感文化”。所以,面对纳粹德国给人类造成的灾难,德国总理勃兰特可以向波兰人民下跪谢罪,日本则做不到这点。中国出现的则更多是控诉。每当社会灾难过后,我们的民族中就会涌现出无数的控诉者,向世界倾诉自己的委屈和哀怨。控诉意识发达而忏悔意识近乎于无,是中国人的集体特征之一。
二是从生存环境看,生存艰难造就的“灾民理性”,也使得中国人缺乏忏悔意识。“灾民理性”是学者任不寐在其《灾变论》一书中提出的一个概念,他把“灾民理性”概括为:权力恐惧,敌人意识,力量崇拜与狡猾崇拜。笔者觉得用来解释中国人的生存法则很贴切。
 所谓“灾民理性”,意指在灾民社会里,由于物质极度匮乏和生活极端不稳定,于是一切为了生存就上升为人生理想,为了生存,可以蛮不讲理,可以不择手段,可以接受任何无耻的任务,干任何下贱的营生。总之,“活着”是人生的最高目标,政治、文化、宗教、习俗等皆是生存手段,是为更好地“活着”服务的。
从上述解释来看,虽然千百年来,灾民并不是经常出现的,但由于人口的膨胀、资源的有限,贫穷和生存环境的恶劣却一直是中国人生活的常态,这就使得中国人的“灾民理性”十分发达,并集中体现在所谓的生存智慧上。这些年来,各种形式的“厚黑学”、“潜规则”以及“官场文学”的盛行,很好地说明了这一点。承平时候也许表现得隐晦一些,一旦重大突发灾难和危机降临,蛰伏于人们心中的“灾民理性”便暴露无遗。因此,当一个民族被“灾民理性”所支配,忏悔意识就只能是一种稀缺品。
看了上面的分析,或许有人会问,“灾民理性”是不是与“乐感文化”相冲突?表面看有些冲突,其实两者恰好互补。正因为中国人深知生存之艰难,所以才更重视现世的享受,也就缺少敬畏精神。只不过一个侧重于物质层面,一个侧重于文化领域,但两者共同构成了中国人的精神元素。宽恕须以悔罪为前提
“乐感文化”也好,“灾民理性”也罢,事实都离不开权力的因素。因而中国人缺乏忏悔意识的第三个因素,要从权力对社会的主宰中寻找。任何一个社会形态,弱肉强食都是存在的,只不过社会进化到现在,对强者有一系列规则和制度约束,尽管如此,也并不能完全消灭强者对资源和权力的占有这一现象。
就中国来说,几千年来,我们是一个权力主宰的社会,掌握社会公权力的人是社会的强者,他们实际决定着社会资源的分配。这导致社会向权力看齐,从而培养了人们的权力崇拜。在这种社会中,掌权者如果能够成为社会的道德表率,还好说。问题恰恰在于,他们的道德规范并不高于普通人。从过往的历史看,权力占有者每每在历史关键时刻表现出的行为,与他们对权力和资源的占有是不相称的。当权力占有者——也包括垄断知识和话语权的知识分子——没有表现出对历史应有的担当,不愿对自己的错误反省、忏悔甚至有意遮蔽历史真相时,想要作为跟随者的普通人去认识错误,自我惩罚,也不可能。后者的策略是,既然首恶者都不认错,我也就不必认错,以此躲避良心的谴责,并在时间的长河中自我麻醉。
从群体的角度看,这样做当然也有道理。然而,必须指出的是,群体的麻木不仁并不代表就可宽恕自己曾经犯下的罪责。如果别人的不忏悔可以作为自己不忏悔的理由,那只能说明你的灵魂也已堕落。假如因此可以求得心灵的安慰,自无话可说;假如因此并不能解除曾经作为一个加害者的良心的不安,为什么不去为自己做过的恶事而忏悔?
好在持此种认识的人渐渐多了起来。笔者读到的上述几篇文章,就表现了这种趋势,作为曾经的加害者,他们并没用多数人都在这样做为自己开脱,而是勇敢地选择了忏悔,这让人稍微宽心。历史不是冤冤相报,做恶者可以宽恕,但宽恕必须以悔罪为前提。若对自己的罪责没有一个基本的认识,不愿诚实地正视历史,真相只会被遮蔽,历史会在黑暗中越走越远。所以,我们需要忏悔,既为自己,也为民族和国家。

   S. Res. 201
   Whereas many Chinese came to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, as did people from other countries, in search of the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families;
   Whereas the contributions of persons of Chinese descent in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, fishing, and canning industries were critical to establishing the foundations for economic growth in the Nation, particularly in the western United States;
   Whereas United States industrialists recruited thousands of Chinese workers to assist in the construction of the Nation’s first major national transportation infrastructure, the Transcontinental Railroad;
   Whereas Chinese laborers, who made up the majority of the western portion of the railroad workforce, faced grueling hours and extremely harsh conditions in order to lay hundreds of miles of track and were paid substandard wages;
   Whereas without the tremendous efforts and technical contributions of these Chinese immigrants, the completion of this vital national infrastructure would have been seriously impeded;
   Whereas from the middle of the 19th century through the early 20th century, Chinese immigrants faced racial ostracism and violent assaults, including–
   (1) the 1887 Snake River Massacre in Oregon, at which 31 Chinese miners were killed; and
   (2) numerous other incidents, including attacks on Chinese immigrants in Rock Springs, San Francisco, Tacoma, and Los Angeles;
   Whereas the United States instigated the negotiation of the Burlingame Treaty, ratified by the Senate on October 19, 1868, which permitted the free movement of the Chinese people to, from, and within the United States and accorded to China the status of “most favored nation”;
   Whereas before consenting to the ratification of the Burlingame Treaty, the Senate required that the Treaty would not permit Chinese immigrants in the United States to be naturalized United States citizens;
   Whereas on July 14, 1870, Congress approved An Act to Amend the Naturalization Laws and to Punish Crimes against the Same, and for other Purposes, and during consideration of such Act, the Senate expressly rejected an amendment to allow Chinese immigrants to naturalize;
   Whereas Chinese immigrants were subject to the overzealous implementation of the Page Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 477), which–
   (1) ostensibly barred the importation of women from “China, Japan, or any Oriental country” for purposes of prostitution;
   (2) was disproportionately enforced against Chinese women, effectively preventing the formation of Chinese families in the United States and limiting the number of native-born Chinese citizens;
   Whereas, on February 15, 1879, the Senate passed “the Fifteen Passenger Bill,” which would have limited the number of Chinese passengers permitted on any ship coming to the United States to 15, with proponents of the bill expressing that the Chinese were “an indigestible element in our midst . . . without any adaptability to become citizens”;
   Whereas, on March 1, 1879, President Hayes vetoed the Fifteen Passenger Bill as being incompatible with the Burlingame Treaty, which declared that “Chinese subjects visiting or residing in the United States, shall enjoy the same privileges . . . in respect to travel or residence, as may there be enjoyed by the citizens and subjects of the most favored nation”;
   Whereas in the aftermath of the veto of the Fifteen Passenger Bill, President Hayes initiated the renegotiation of the Burlingame Treaty, requesting that the Chinese government consent to restrictions on the immigration of Chinese persons to the United States;
   Whereas these negotiations culminated in the Angell Treaty, ratified by the Senate on May 9, 1881, which–
   (1) allowed the United States to suspend, but not to prohibit, the immigration of Chinese laborers;
   (2) declared that “Chinese laborers who are now in the United States shall be allowed to go and come of their own free will”; and
   (3) reaffirmed that Chinese persons possessed “all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exemptions which are accorded to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nation”;
   Whereas, on March 9, 1882, the Senate passed the first Chinese Exclusion Act, which purported to implement the Angell Treaty but instead excluded for 20 years both skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers, rejected an amendment that would have permitted the naturalization of Chinese persons, and instead expressly denied Chinese persons the right to be naturalized as American citizens;
   Whereas, on April 4, 1882, President Chester A. Arthur vetoed the first Chinese Exclusion Act as being incompatible with the terms and spirit of the Angell Treaty;
   Whereas, on May 6, 1882, Congress passed the second Chinese Exclusion Act, which–
   (1) prohibited skilled and unskilled Chinese laborers from entering the United States for 10 years;
   (2) was the first Federal law that excluded a single group of people on the basis of race; and
   (3) required certain Chinese laborers already legally present in the United States who later wished to reenter to obtain “certificates of return”, an unprecedented requirement that applied only to Chinese residents;
   Whereas in response to reports that courts were bestowing United States citizenship on persons of Chinese descent, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 explicitly prohibited all State and Federal courts from naturalizing Chinese persons;
   Whereas the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 underscored the belief of some Senators at that time that–
   (1) the Chinese people were unfit to be naturalized;
   (2) the social characteristics of the Chinese were “revolting”;
   (3) Chinese immigrants were “like parasites”; and
   (4) the United States “is under God a country of Caucasians, a country of white men, a country to be governed by white men”;
   Whereas, on July 3, 1884, notwithstanding United States treaty obligations with China and other nations, Congress broadened the scope of the Chinese Exclusion Act–
   (1) to apply to all persons of Chinese descent, “whether subjects of China or any other foreign power”; and
   (2) to provide more stringent requirements restricting Chinese immigration;
   Whereas, on October 1, 1888, the Scott Act was enacted into law, which–
   (1) prohibited all Chinese laborers who would choose or had chosen to leave the United States from reentering;
   (2) cancelled all previously issued “certificates of return”, which prevented approximately 20,000 Chinese laborers abroad, including 600 individuals who were en route to the United States, from returning to their families or their homes; and
   (3) was later determined by the Supreme Court to have abrogated the Angell Treaty;
   Whereas, on May 5, 1892, the Geary Act was enacted into law, which–
   (1) extended the Chinese Exclusion Act for 10 years;
   (2) required all Chinese persons in the United States, but no other race of people, to register with the Federal Government in order to obtain “certificates of residence”; and
   (3) denied Chinese immigrants the right to be released on bail upon application for a writ of habeas corpus;
   Whereas on an explicitly racial basis, the Geary Act deemed the testimony of Chinese persons, including American citizens of Chinese descent, per se insufficient to establish the residency of a Chinese person subject to deportation, mandating that such residencebe established through the testimony of “at least one credible white witness”;
   Whereas in the 1894 Gresham-Yang Treaty, the Chinese government consented to a prohibition of Chinese immigration and the enforcement of the Geary Act in exchange for the readmission of previous Chinese residents;
   Whereas in 1898, the United States–
   (1) annexed Hawaii;
   (2) took control of the Philippines; and
   (3) excluded thousands of racially Chinese residents of Hawaii and of the Philippines from entering the United States mainland;
   Whereas on April 29, 1902, Congress–
   (1) indefinitely extended all laws regulating and restricting Chinese immigration and residence; and
   (2) expressly applied such laws to United States insular territories, including the Philippines;
   Whereas in 1904, after the Chinese government exercised its unilateral right to withdraw from the Gresham-Yang Treaty, Congress permanently extended, “without modification, limitation, or condition”, all restrictions on Chinese immigration and naturalization, making the Chinese the only racial group explicitly singled out for immigration exclusion and permanently ineligible for American citizenship;
   Whereas between 1910 and 1940, the Angel Island Immigration Station implemented the Chinese exclusion laws by–
   (1) confining Chinese persons for up to nearly 2 years;
   (2) interrogating Chinese persons; and
   (3) providing a model for similar immigration stations at other locations on the Pacific coast and in Hawaii;
   Whereas each of the congressional debates concerning issues of Chinese civil rights, naturalization, and immigration involved intensely racial rhetoric, with many Members of Congress claiming that all persons of Chinese descent were–
   (1) unworthy of American citizenship;
   (2) incapable of assimilation into American society; and
   (3) dangerous to the political and social integrity of the United States;
   Whereas the express discrimination in these Federal statutes politically and racially stigmatized Chinese immigration into the United States, enshrining in law the exclusion of the Chinese from the political process and the promise of American freedom;
   Whereas wartime enemy forces used the anti-Chinese legislation passed in Congress as evidence of American racism against the Chinese, attempting to undermine the Chinese-American alliance and allied military efforts;
   Whereas, in 1943, at the urging of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and over 60 years after the enactment of the first discriminatory laws against Chinese immigrants, Congress–
   (1) repealed previously enacted anti-Chinese legislation; and
   (2) permitted Chinese immigrants to become naturalized United States citizens;
   Whereas despite facing decades of systematic, pervasive, and sustained discrimination, Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans persevered and have continued to play a significant role in the growth and success of the United States;
   Whereas 6 decades of Federal legislation deliberately targeting Chinese by race–
   (1) restricted the capacity of generations of individuals and families to openly pursue the American dream without fear; and
   (2) fostered an atmosphere of racial discrimination that deeply prejudiced the civil rights of Chinese immigrants;
   Whereas diversity is one of our Nation’s greatest strengths, and, while this Nation was founded on the principle that all persons are created equal, the laws enacted by Congress in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that restricted the political and civil rights of persons of Chinese descent violated that principle;
   Whereas although an acknowledgment of the Senate’s actions that contributed to discrimination against persons of Chinese descent will not erase the past, such an expression will acknowledge and illuminate the injustices in our national experience and help to build a better and stronger Nation;
   Whereas the Senate recognizes the importance of addressing this unique framework of discriminatory laws in order to educate the public and future generations regarding the impact of these laws on Chinese and other Asian persons and their implications to all Americans; and
   Whereas the Senate deeply regrets the enactment of the Chinese Exclusion Act and related discriminatory laws that–
   (1) resulted in the persecution and political alienation of persons of Chinese descent;
   (2) unfairly limited their civil rights;
   (3) legitimized racial discrimination; and
   (4) induced trauma that persists within the Chinese community: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved,
   SECTION 1. ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND EXPRESSION OF REGRET.
    The Senate–
    (1) acknowledges that this framework of anti-Chinese legislation, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, is incompatible with the basic founding principles recognized in the Declaration of Independence that all persons are created equal;
    (2) deeply regrets passing 6 decades of legislation directly targeting the Chinese people for physical and political exclusion and the wrongs committed against Chinese and American citizens of Chinese descent who suffered under these discriminatory laws; and
    (3) reaffirms its commitment to preserving the same civil rights and constitutional protections for people of Chinese or other Asian descent in the United States accorded to all others, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
   SEC. 2. DISCLAIMER.
    Nothing in this resolution may be construed–
    (1) to authorize or support any claim against the United States; or

(2) to serve as a settlement of any claim against the United States.

Sen. Leahy’s remarks:

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, beginning more than 140 years ago, Congress enacted a series of racist and discriminatory laws directed specifically at persons of Chinese descent. Collectively known as the Chinese Exclusion Laws, these laws remained in force for more than 60 years, and were repealed only as a matter of wartime expediency during World War II. These laws conflicted directly with the fundamental principles of equality and justice upon which our Nation was founded. It is long past time for Congress to affirmatively reject the ignorance and hate that spurred passage of those laws.

   S. Res. 201 reflects the Senate’s regret for the passage of those unjust laws, but also affirms our commitment to ensuring that such policies never become law again. I commend the individuals and organizations that have advocated for this important resolution.
   The Chinese Exclusion Laws reflected a climate of intolerance and xenophobia that viewed immigrants of Chinese descent as inferior and incapable of assimilating as loyal Americans. Fueled in large part by an economic crisis and fears that Chinese immigrants would take jobs away from other workers, the hostility against Chinese immigrants sometimes turned violent. Through a number of state laws and ordinances in many Western states and several questionable court rulings, Chinese immigrants were systematically deprived of fundamental civil rights and privileges, rights that should be guaranteed to all by our Constitution.
   Eventually, political pressure led Congress to prohibit the immigration of all Chinese persons into the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 explicitly banned Chinese immigrants from entering the United States for 10 years, and this ban was renewed and ultimately made permanent by Congress through subsequent enactments. In passing these laws, Congress failed to adhere to our Nation’s basic founding principles that all are created equal, and that all persons deserve basic human and civil rights. Instead, Congress allowed fear and ignorance to drive our Nation’s immigration policy and, for the first time, to exclude from our country a single group of people based solely on their race.
   That was wrong. Ours in a Nation of immigrants and of equality and these laws offended both of those fundamental precepts of America.
   While Congress was right to repeal the Chinese Exclusions Laws in 1943, it is important to note that Congress was motivated primarily by the fear that the Japanese would use the racist laws as part of its propaganda campaign to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its Chinese allies. The repeal of the Chinese Exclusions Laws was not accompanied by any genuine sense of regret for the decades of discriminatory policies, or any proclamation by the Congress that it would guard in the future against the type of racism and xenophobia that allowed such laws to pass in the first place. Instead, the exclusion laws were simply supplanted by application of strict race-based quotas that remained in place for more than 20 years. Let us not forget that at the same time that Congress was repealing the Chinese Exclusion Laws, the U.S. Government was imprisoning thousands of loyal Americans of Japanese descent in internment camps throughout the West. Thus, the repeal of the exclusion laws in 1943 can hardly be viewed as a genuine acknowledgement by Congress of the racist nature of its actions. In order to close the book on this series of unjust laws, I urge support of this resolution to express the Senate’s regret, albeit belatedly, for these shameful pieces of legislation.
   Going forward, this resolution also reaffirms our commitment to the principles of equality and justice upon which our Nation was founded. I was disappointed that, at the insistence of some anonymous Republicans, the resolution is being stripped by amendment of any reference to the Constitution of the United States. That is inexplicable to me. No one has anyone come forward to take responsibility for this change. It is being done in the shadows, without accountability. I believe that the Chinese Exclusion Laws were incompatible with the spirit, and indeed the text, of our Constitution, our fundamental charter. I challenge whoever felt it necessary to remove the original reference in our resolution to the affront to the Constitution to come forward and explain why they were blocking this resolution unless that change was made.
   Contrary to the claims in the 1880s that Chinese immigrants looked, acted, and sounded too different–too foreign–to ever become loyal Americans, we have all witnessed the incredible contributions that Chinese Americans have made to our country. America has come a long way since the days of the Chinese Exclusion Laws. I hope that we all appreciate how our Nation’s diversity makes America better and stronger.
   As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have supported the nominations and recognized the service of many Americans of Chinese descent serving as attorneys and judges throughout the country, such as former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee, and Federal Judges Denny Chin, Edmond Chang, Ed Chen, and Dolly Gee. I am also mindful of the service of the late Thomas Tang, a Chinese American trailblazer on the Federal judiciary.
   I hope that passage of S. Res. 201 will mark a step in the Senate’s progress toward greater commitment to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, in these tough economic times, it is not difficult to hear echoes of the intolerance that led to the Chinese Exclusion Laws in some of the rhetoric of recent immigration debates. Congress should not legislate out of fear and intolerance, and we must not allow laws like the Chinese Exclusions Laws ever to pass again.
This entry was posted in Society 社会. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s