21st Century ‘Yellow Peril?’
Posted by Paul J. Noto on 01/13/2012
About the author: Paul J. Noto studied political science and history at Washington College, received a JD from Western New England College School of Law and earned a masters degree in history from Iona College. An attorney and historian, Noto was a former mayor and legislator. He is the author of the new book At the Crossroads of Justice: My Lai and Son Thang -- American Atrocities in Vietnam, and resides in Mamaroneck, NY.
The recent announcement by the U.S. Army that several officers and enlisted men were being charged in the death of Private Danny Chen illustrates the problems that can occur when there is a breakdown in command discipline in a military unit. Poor leadership and a tolerance of racism toward Asians created an environment that failed Private Chen and the U.S. Army.
According to relatives, Chens fellow soldiers harassed him by taunting him with ethnic slurs and one time pulled him out of bed and dragged him across the floor; they forced him to crawl on the ground while they pelted him with rocks and called him names. They then ordered him to do pull-ups with a mouthful of water while forbidding him from spitting it out. Not long after that he was found dead in a guard tower, from what the military said was an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. All this while Private Chen was serving his country in a forward outpost in Afghanistan. Military prosecutors have charged Chens tormentors with an array of charges ranging from manslaughter to negligent homicide.
This is not the first case of hazing of Asian-American soldiers by military personnel. In October, 2011, several Marines were ordered court-martialed for their roles in the death of an Asian-American marine, Lance Corporal Harry Lew, from California, who killed himself in April in Afghanistan after being subjected to what military prosecutors said was hazing.