We Need Comprehensive Gun Control, Not More Racial Profiling

Senator Chris Murphy on the floor of the Senate during his marathon 15-hour filibuster last week demanding that Congress pass a gun control bill in the wake of the Orlando shooting. (Photo Credit: C-SPAN)
Senator Chris Murphy on the floor of the Senate during his marathon 15-hour filibuster last week demanding that Congress pass a gun control bill in the wake of the Orlando shooting. (Photo Credit: C-SPAN)

Last week, freshman Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) ended a marathon fifteen hour filibuster demanding that Congress finally do something — anything — about the gun control issue. Just days prior, a gunman committed one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history when he stormed into the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida with a semiautomatic assault rifle, shooting and killing 49 victims and wounding 53 more before being killed by police. Most of the Orlando shooter’s victims that night — the twelfth of LGBT Pride Month — were Black and Brown LGBT clubgoers out for a night of drinks and dancing at Pulse’s weekly Latin night.

This was the 176th mass shooting in 2016 alone. To date, nearly 1,000 Americans have been wounded or killed in mass shootings, and the year is not yet half over. There are, quite simply, no words left to utter about this tragic, angering, inexcusable status quo except these: we need better gun control.

When Omar Mateen, Orlando shooter, attacked Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning, he did so with a legally purchased Sig Sauer MCX and Glock17 handgun. The rifle was first developed at the request of US military to accept a range of ammunition types, and its specialty is its built-in silencing technology. On June 12, Mateen used his MCX to fire a still unknown number of bullets at a rate of 24 rounds in 9 seconds.

As this gun enthusiast blog raves, “it really does look like SIG Sauer took the concept of the Honey Badger and ran with it all the way to the finish line. And then decided to make it available for sale to the civilian market and not just for military contracts.”

The MCX is, without a doubt, a weapon of war.

Common sense dictates that this gun — whose only purpose is to maximize the task of ending human lives as quickly and efficiently as possibly — does not belong on the civilian market.

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Race is No Just Cause: The US Government’s Racist Profiling of Asian Americans

Photo credit: Mark Makela/The New York Times
Photo credit: Mark Makela/The New York Times

Earlier this week, I gave a standing-room only talk at Yale about the Asian American Model Minority Myth, wherein I talked about the Myth’s anti-Black underpinnings and its dehumanizing obfuscation of the struggles (and very real racism) faced by the diverse people who belong to the AANHPI community. Afterwards, a young Chinese American woman came up to me and introduced herself: her name was Joyce. Earlier this year, her father (Temple University physics professor and former department chairman, Xiaoxing Xi) had been arrested by the Justice Department and wrongly accused of espionage. In 2002, Xi had worked at a company that had invented something called a pocket heater, which is now a restricted technology used in superconductor research. Later, Xi purchased limited access to the technology for one year to continue his research on it.

In an emotional and heartfelt op-ed published this past week, Joyce recounts how in May of this year, the US Justice Department raided the Xi family home. Twelve FBI agents broke into the house in the early morning hours and pointed guns at a bewildered and terrified Xi, his wife, and their children. The agents dragged Xi away in handcuffs, and accused him of sharing the pocket heater schematics with Chinese scientists in 2010, in a series of emails. They implicated Xi — a US citizen who naturalized in 1989 — as a Chinese spy. In addition to facing federal charges of espionage, Xi became informally black-listed: before even having a chance to defend himself in a court of law, Xi found himself demoted from his departmental chairmanship by Temple University.

One inconvenient problem: Xi appears to be completely innocent.

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Are FBI & State Dept blacklisting Asian American and Muslim employees?

Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese American scientist wrongly accused by the federal government for espionage, in a case widely criticized as based largely on anti-Asian stereotypes.
Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwanese American scientist wrongly accused by the federal government for espionage, in a case widely criticized as based largely on anti-Asian stereotypes.

This is easily the most underreported story of institutionalized anti-Asian and anti-Muslim racism of 2014.

In the months following 9/11, the United States shifted many of its priorities towards counter-terrorism efforts targeting overseas groups and countries in much of Asia and the Middle East. With that new focus came news of broad recruiting efforts; recruits fluent in Asian and Middle Eastern languages became hot commodities for the intelligence community. Many federal agencies launched programs specifically aimed at attracting agents with foreign language capabilities. From a 2012 FBI report to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security:

The FBI’s Foreign Language Program has made great strides in its ability to meet the rising demand of language needs since September 11, 2001 and has built a sustained and robust program. The program has moved forward through specialized training, increased hiring, retention, technology, and collaboration. The FBI has invested in multiple strategies to increase its foreign language capabilities.

Following 9/11, the FBI launched a $1.5 million recruitment program that has reportedly significantly enhanced the language diversity of its incoming agents. For many Asian Americans, this new federal focus represented a welcome inroads to the FBI, the State Department, and other historically White federal agencies; by 2012, 4.2% of the FBI’s special agents were Asian American.

However, new reports are suggesting that simultaneous to the federal government’s focus on language diversity and non-White recruiting, secretive policies of racial profiling have subjected Asian American and Muslim American employees of the FBI and the State Department to profound, unreported discrimination.

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