Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Response to Workers Viewpoint article

CWP on Vincent Chin case: An ugly act of self-exposure

First Published: Unity, Vol. 6, No. 11, July 15-August 11, 1983.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Vincent Chin. Murdered in cold blood, for no other reason than being Asian American. To Chinese and other Asian Americans, Vincent Chin is a victim and a symbol of the growing racist violence against Asian peoples in the U.S.

Vincent Chin was 27 years old and soon to be married when he was attacked and beaten to death by two white racists last summer in Detroit. His killers, an auto plant foreman and his stepson, blamed Asians for their unemployment. They hurled racist insults at Chin in a local bar and then, after Chin left, hunted him down and clubbed him to death with a baseball bat. In March, the court sentenced the confessed killers to probation and a $3,000 fine. This is more lenient than the sentence prescribed by the state of Michigan of three days in jail for killing a dog.

The Chin case has outraged and moved into motion Chinese and other Asian Americans from all classes and political sectors, perhaps more than any other issue in recent times. The obvious reason for this is the blatant racism against Chinese. The judge’s sentence has hammered home the fact that Chinese are still second-class citizens. The Chin case shows that things for Chinese have not fundamentally changed since 100 years ago when Chinese were lynched, stoned and even shot as sport.

The well-known community poet Chin Sung captured the outrage and political consciousness of the masses with this poem:

Let us expose the white covers from the paintings
Let us unveil the mask of civil rights
Let us remove the judge’s wig
. . . the so-called “paradise” of the USA in this enlightened 20th century is a lawless hell – excerpts from For What?, translated from the Chinese

With these sentiments exploding in the community, a broad united front to win justice for Vincent Chin has taken off. Hundreds of people attended programs and marches commemorating the one-year anniversary of Chin’s death in Detroit, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles last month. The American Citizens for Justice, a broad coalition of Chinese and other Asians in Detroit, and other groups across the country are continuing to press for justice as the case is being brought to the Justice Department.

CWP uses issue to attack others

The opportunist “Communist Workers” Party (CWP) has jumped on the Chin case after several years of little to no activity in the Chinese community. Apparently CWP hopes to utilize the Chin case to reenter the mass movement. It is clear, though, that CWP cares little about the Chin case and is mainly concerned with furthering its sectarian interests. The first major article to appear in CWP’s newspaper, Workers Viewpoint, on Vincent Chin is not really even on the Vincent Chin case, but a vicious attack on the U.S. League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L) (LRS) (“Chauvinism and the murder of Vincent Chin, a case study of the so-called LRS,” Workers Viewpoint, July 7, 1983, P-6).

This article is filled with lies and slanders about the LRS’s positions and work on the Vincent Chin case. CWP has no qualms about lying through its teeth; it upholds the “big lie” theory that the bigger and more outrageous the lie and the more often it is repeated, the more likely it thinks people will believe it. The article also stoops to naming people as members of LRS, a red-baiting tactic which only police agents would consider utilizing. These totally unprincipled methods again raise serious questions as to the role of CWP in the movement.

One of the “big lies” spread by CWP in this article is the charge that LRS supports the anti-imports campaign of the labor unions. This is so ridiculous it is beneath response, as anyone even remotely familiar with the LRS’s propaganda and organizing in the auto, steel and garment industries would know.

CWP liquidates national question ... again

All these unprincipled methods and lies are employed by CWP to bolster its main political argument, which is that the LRS opposes national oppression, the racist scapegoating of Asians, and capitalism; whereas CWP understands that the real issue is the anti-imports campaign.

Of course the anti-imports campaign is used to whip up American chauvinism and it is one factor in the attack on Vincent Chin. However, Germans are not being attacked, despite the large number of imported German cars. CWP suggests that Asians are being picked on (as opposed to Germans) because they have “distinct physical features” which make them identifiable. This position is as stupid as it is chauvinist because it denies the historic suppression, lynching, murder and forcible restriction of Chinese into a second-class citizenship in all spheres of life. The murderers of Vincent Chin, while they were angry at imports for supposedly causing layoffs, actually went out and killed an Asian. They thought they could get away with it, because they knew a Chinese life is not valued the same as a white life in U.S. society.

CWP accuses the LRS of “deploring racism in the abstract.” CWP says that in the 1960’s, the real issue was not “just racism” but the Viet Nam War, and now in the 1980’s, the real issue is to oppose the anti-imports campaign of the labor unions. CWP raises the anti-imports argument in order to liquidate the national question. CWP states, as if it has discovered a profound truth, that the anti-imports campaign is a conscious ploy to divert the workers’ anger from unemployment. CWP seems to believe it has reached a deep understanding of how national oppression divides the working class in different historical periods.

But far from saying anything about the LRS’s line, this article is an act of self-exposure. It is part of CWP’s historical position on the national question, which is to oppose everything except national oppression and racism. CWP has a long and ugly history of attacking the struggle for democracy as “divisive” to the working class. It opposes affirmative action, special admissions, community control, and other democratic reforms as “sham reforms” and “tricks to divide the working class.” By reducing the legitimate demands of the masses for equality, such as affirmative action, to “tricks of the bourgeoisie,” CWP actually opposes the struggle against national oppression.

This outlook has led CWP to stand in practice on the side of the racists and reactionaries. It united with the Revolutionary Communist Party’s notorious “smash Boston busing” and it attacked the movement against the Bakke and Weber decisions. Rather than attack the racists and right wing, CWP declares that if the masses fight for these “tricks,” they will split the class.

Now CWP suggests that we tell the masses in the Chinese community, who are seething with anger at this latest racist attack and injustice (for Chinese have been attacked by racists since long before the anti-imports campaign!) that their anger is misplaced and threatens to divide the working class?! This is not only absurd, but one must ask why CWP does not think it is necessary to go out and educate the working class, not only to the truth about imports, but national oppression and capitalism, and that the working class must oppose not just the anti-imports campaign, but every form and instance of national inequality and injustice. By refusing to take a firm stand against national oppression and chauvinism or by calling them “abstractions,” CWP objectively takes the same position as the racist judge – that Chin’s murderers were good workers who were upset by their unemployment!

This article by CWP shows CWP’s continued chauvinist line as well as its utilization of opportunist methods like lying and red-baiting. If CWP wants to polemicize with LRS, it should do so with proper quotes and sources, and not lies and slanders. The LRS’s work is open for all to see and its views are in writing.

Unlike CWP, which floats in and out of the mass movement, the LRS has worked in the Asian movement and Chinese community consistently for 15 years and is accountable to the masses. The LRS is the only organization in the U.S. to publish communist literature in the Chinese language. CWP, by contrast, on principle, distributes none of its literature in either English or Chinese in the Chinese community. (For all of its talk of fighting racism in the concrete and broadly and openly educating the masses, the CWP does not print its newspaper in either Chinese or Spanish.) Indeed, CWP in general does not distribute Workers Viewpoint, a mass way, so that hardly anyone ever “benefits” from CWP’s “communist” education!

CWP has no accountability. This article was written obviously just to attack others and to sound super-revolutionary, but in practice it will do anything to get over. In L.A. Chinatown, for example, the CWP and its mass organization AAFE (Asian Americans for Equality) tailed the petty bourgeoisie and only talked about “racism” with not a peep on imports, supposedly their profound insight into the Vincent Chin case; whereas others, including members of Chinese Progressive Association and East Wind magazine, in addition to taking a strong stand against national oppression, also raised the class question and imports and fought for a speaker from the United Auto Workers.

Anyone actually involved in the Vincent Chin issue would know that CWP’s article is a self-serving pile of lies and slanders. CWP only writes this stuff in order to spread lies and confusion among people who don’t know anything about what actually happened in practice. We can guarantee that CWP will not sell this issue of Workers Viewpoint in any Vincent Chin committee. In fact, we challenge them to distribute this article in the community and to translate it into Chinese so the masses can read it.

The CWP has a long history of sectarian and wrecking activities in the movement, including the Asian movement. It has physically beaten up activists and genuine communists, split organizations and absconded with the money of mass organizations. For example, in 1979 they physically attacked the offices of the pro-China China Daily News in New York. These kinds of activities resulted in the CWP and AAFE becoming widely discredited and isolated in the 1970’s. Now CWP hopes that people have short memories and that they can ride back into the movement on the Vincent Chin issue. This article in Workers Viewpoint, however, shows that CWP has not changed at all.