Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Yellow Viper (4)

Mark Twain's observation about Chinese immigrants in California.

"OF course there was a large Chinese population in Virginia--it is the case with every town and city on the Pacific coast. They are a harmless race when white men either let them alone or treat them no worse than dogs; in fact they are almost entirely harmless anyhow, for they seldom think of resenting the vilest insults or the cruelest injuries. They are quiet, peaceable, tractable, free from drunkenness, and they are as industrious as the day is long. A disorderly Chinaman is rare, and a lazy one does not exist. So long as a Chinaman has strength to use his hands he needs no support from anybody; white men often complain of want of work, but a Chinaman offers no such complaint; he always manages to find something to do. He is a great convenience to everybody--even to the worst class of white men, for he bears the most of their sins, suffering fines for their petty thefts, imprisonment for their robberies, and death for their murders. Any white man can swear a Chinaman's life away in the courts, but no Chinaman can testify against a white man. Ours is the "land of the free"--nobody denies that--nobody challenges it. [Maybe it is because we won't let other people testify.] As I write, news comes
that in broad daylight in San Francisco, some boys have stoned an inoffensive Chinaman to death, and that although a large crowd witnessed the shameful deed, no one interfered

Mark Twain's observations about the Chinese immigrants: California as I saw it 1849 - 1900.

Image: Chinese, gold mining in California. From The Bancroft Library.
  • A vegetable vendor. From The Bancroft Library.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Yellow Viper (3)


The Cubic Air Ordinance

Faced with a dwindling economy and loss of job opportunities which were blamed on Chinese immigrant labour, organized white labour groups agitated the San Fransisco's local government to enact a law known as the Cubic Air Ordinance to "persuade" the Chinese immigrants to return to their country. The law required 500 cubic feet of space for every person residing in a lodging. Ostensibly, this law was the result of a submission by a health officer who reported that "they [the Chinese immigrants] live crowded together in rickety, filthy, and dilapidated tenement houses, like so many cattle or hogs”. The Chinese immigrants who lived in cramped, crowded tenements to save money became the target of incarceration in even more crowded county jails. Thousands were arrested and thrown into jail.

The Cubic Air Law would eventually lead to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricting Chinese immigrant labour into the US for 10 years.

Out of the frying pan into the fire

Friday, 17 June 2011

The Yellow Viper (2)

"Quote in upper right hand corner attributed to Mayor Kalloch: 'If a dead horse lies in the Street, he is carted away and thrown into the water'." Shows dead Chinese in form of horses being carted away and thrown in the Bay" (Bancroft Library, University of California).

"Overpopulation, gambling, opium houses, disease, filth, immorality depicted as Chinatown's vices. Suggests transplantation to south S. F., being drawn by weak mules of Board of Supervisors and Board of Health" (Bancroft Library, University of California).

White workingmen's Party protesting against Chinese immigrant labour

"Chinese depicted as analogous to this duplicitous character: "California, having once relieved the Chinaman, is now compelled to carry him around indefinitely"(Bancroft Library, University of California).

California (Eureka) nursing Chinese labour in the first panel. Second panel showing fully grown Chinese labour refusing to leave.

Colonel Bee (who fought against driving out the Chinese from California) 'fleeing' from opponents to Chinese labour. He was later acknowledged by the Chinese Emperor as the Chinese Consul at San Francisco.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Yellow Viper (1)

The Chinese Diaspora, numbering an estimated 40 million, and scattered across several countries are very much alive and thriving. Invariably, the early migrants did not have it easy. In every foreign soil they set foot on, they were subjected to discrimination, prejudice and hate mongering. Although slavery was abolished, Americans in the late 1900s were no different. The anger against the Chinese immigrants for the most part stemmed from the Chinese' willingness to work for lower pay, which had deprived the white immigrant labour as well as local labour of work.

The Wasp (a weekly illustrated Californian magazine), was especially rabid in its portrayal of Chinese immigrant labour in the latter half of the 19th century.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Sons of the Modern Dragon

I remember in the early 70's my grandma spent a lot of her free time sewing blankets from of pieces of cloth collected from seamstresses. And these blankets together with used clothes were sent to her sisters in Swatow, China by ship. Every month too, she would send her meagre saving of about RM 200 to them through someone who would write a letter as well as remit her money for a fee. Those were the times when China was struggling to feed her 1.2 billion people. Two decades or more later, the China of my grandma has been transformed radically into a nation feared and distrusted by many nations, particularly the US. Even Japan and the Southeast-Asian nations fear her rise as an economic as well as a military power although China continues to assure the world that she has no ambition to become a military power or any intention to interfere with the affairs of sovereign states.

What we have seen is a China in a hurry to modernise, to haul her people into the 21st century, and she has succeeded dramatically.Despite China's clampdown on individual freedom and free speech, its fear of cultural and moral pollution, it seems rather lax in curtailing citizens' expressions of their individualism in unexpected ways as captured by the popular ChinaSmack.com site.

A businessman and his secretary horse riding to work

Students at an academy protesting an official's long boring speech by lifting their shirts over their heads

A 26 car wedding motorcade

Planking has become very popular among the youths

A psychologist promoting himself by using a beautiful girl in underwear

Woman beats man after minor accident

Girls dressed in school outfits keep internet cafe customers happy

A naked man trying to lift a taxi

A male cross-dresser at a McDonald's

Lingerie models performing in front of a large crowd including children

Strip performance in a rural community

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Non-Muslim Women As Sex Slaves

Just a few days ago, the Obedient Wives Club of Malaysia suggested that wives should be a whore in bed (not only a whore but a super one at that) to prevent husbands from straying. In addition, she should absolutely be submissive to their husbands.

Well, this woman (left) from Kuwait who once ran for parliament went even further by proposing that Kuwaiti men be allowed to buy non-Muslim women from war-torn countries to be sex slaves. Her reason: to prevent men from engaging in forbidden sexual relationships. To strengthen her case, she said that it was not forbidden in Islam, she had consulted scholars who said that "the only solution for a decent man who has the means, who is overpowered by desire and who does not want to commit fornication, is to acquire jawari.' Jawari is the plural of the Arabic term jariya, meaning 'concubine' or 'sex slave'.

Kate, a reader of my post on "The Obedient Wives Club" suggested that I post this clip on my blog. So here goes.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

In Celebration of Women and their indomitable spirit

Unforgettable images of women largely hidden from the wired world. Thanks, Nancy for these pictures. I would like to acknowledge these accomplished photographers, but I don't know where you got them from. Anyway, whoever these people, thank you for reminding us that there are so many women out there who struggle against all odds stoically and courageously to bring up their families.

Unforgettable images of women largely hidden from the wired world.