Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Letter: League information was given out of concern for multiculturalism

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 67, 30 May 1990.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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“O, WHAT A TANGLED WEB we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Never have I felt this maxim by Shakespeare to be so true as I watch the actions of League of Revolutionary Struggle members over the last week.

I am writing to explain my motivations in coming out with the truth the way I did in the May 23 Daily article on the League and to answer some questions people have fielded to me about the presence of the League in the various communities.

I got involved in the Asian-American community sometime toward the end of my freshman year. That year was, in many ways, difficult for me as I experienced a great deal of culture shock and alienation as a second generation Korean-American on a primarily white campus. That initial experience eventually led me to an understanding of how race and culture dynamics in the United States serve to disempower and marginalize minorities. And it was with this understanding and a desire to help change this situation that I participated in the campaign for Asian-American studies last year and the takeover that eventually won a tenure-track professorship in this field.

The bottom line is I care about the multicultural movement and I feel my past involvement attests to that. You can understand then how difficult it was for me to speak out like I did, knowing that it could have a harmful effect on communities of color. Believe me it was pure agony knowing about the secretive League and not being able to tell anybody about it for fear of betraying people I knew and trusted and possibly damaging the movement itself.

But at some point I came to realize that what was going on within the communities, with the secret membership and recruiting, was wrong and that the presence of this organization was actually undermining the very goals we were striving for.

I was going to talk a little bit about how I feel particular characteristics of these Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries, such as their overzealousness and fanaticism and tendency to argue endlessly with people (in their efforts to resolve “contradictions”), are alienating many in the Asian-American community.

However, I decided that the main issue is not the debate over the efficacy of certain strategies and modes of interaction, but rather how honest people are with their intentions and political motivations when they become leaders of organizations and coalitions. That is, I think people should know whether Marxist-Leninist strategies are being employed to organize a community. Otherwise, it’s paternalistic, patronizing and manipulative.

The kind of secrecy upon which the League depends does more damage to the communities than it’s worth because it paralyzes those who know about them, gives certain groups a cohesive power individuals cannot challenge and thereby makes most discussions undemocratic. Hand-in-hand with this deception is the unethical way in which certain leaders of the communities of color use their influence and positions to advance their peripheral politics and encourage others to join a purely partisan and, in this case, a secret, revolutionary organization.

As I’ve stated before, I do recognize the fact that these people are some of “the best and hardest workers” and that they’ve done a tremendous amount for communities of color in winning basic resources and establishing various programs. (By the way, I did not mean to imply that hardworking people are communists.) However, I’ve come to realize, too, that achievements like these are only one criteria for judging the “success” of a particular group, organization or government. Other considerations must be taken into account, such as the process by which these things were achieved – was it truly democratic, truly open to all, honest and non-repressive.

Again, my point ultimately is not to be anti-Marxist-Leninist or to red-bait.

One last point – I would like to remind people that after all of this is over, and the truth finally comes out, we should concentrate again on issues of multiculturalism. For the Asian-American community in particular, this is the message I want to impart to you all: that the main task for us is to find our identities, our cultural selves, both on an individual and collective level.

In this way, we will truly be “radical” (because to be bicultural is to be radical in this Anglo-dominated society) and avoid falling into the tempting “wanna-be-white,” “wanna-be-bourgeoisie,” “let’s just party” mentality that is prevalent among some sectors of our community. With that in mind, I hope Asian-Americans and others will reaffirm the importance of multiculturalism.

Richard Suh
Former chair, Asian American Student Association