11.23.2012

When we demanded justice for Danny Chen, this isn't what we meant

This isn't even "justice" (h/t Angry Asian Man).
An Army sergeant convicted of hounding Pvt. Danny Chen into committing suicide was busted down in rank at his sentencing Wednesday.

Andrew Van Bockel also got 60 days of hard labor — though he won’t actually be working on a chain gang, as he was credited for the 45 days in the brig he had already served.

The 27-year-old soldier was convicted Tuesday of dereliction of duty and maltreatment in the hazing of Chen, a lower East Side resident, who was so sadistically treated by Van Bockel and fellow soldiers that he took his own life in Afghanistan in October, 2011.

Van Bockel is the seventh soldier found guilty by a military jury for his role in Chen’s demise.

In this case, the jury found that Van Bockel taunted the 19-year-old soldier with racist nicknames, ordered him to belly crawl over rocks, and made him bark out orders in Chinese to give the platoon a laugh.

Others testified that Van Bockel allowed other soldiers to torture Chen by beating him up, throwing rocks at him, and forcing him to do pushups with a mouth full of water.

Van Bockel argued in court that Chen was a lousy soldier and what he was doing was “corrective training.”

Liz OuYang, who has served as a spokeswoman for Chen’s immigrant parents, called Van Bockel “a disgrace to the U.S. Army,” and denounced his “light sentence.” (Source)
So...basically these dudes get to just go on with their lives.

Let's try this again, shall we?  Private Danny Chen went to Afghanistan to serve what he thought was his country...you know, that place where he could fulfill his dreams and where his life was considered valuable?

Guess he - and we - were wrong (again).

This is precisely the reason I adamantly discourage POC from serving in the American military.  Here we are in the 21st Century and POC are still fighting - and dying - for a country and all the rights it holds dear, which it conveniently denies POC.

These soldiers drove Chen to suicide.  They were found guilty of it in a court of law, and yet...nothing.  Chen's tormentors will go on with their lives, but he won't get to.  That is not "justice".

That is some Trayvon Martin-type shit and the outcry needs to magnify.  Thirty years ago Vincent Chin's murderers got off with a slap on the wrist.  And thirty years later, ain't a damn thing changed.

So Narrators, let's not be quiet on this.  The outrage on this hasn't nearly been loud enough.  Chen was 19 when he died, a child himself and just 2 years older than Trayvon Martin.  That is unacceptable.

Yes, we can start with the usual rounds of petitions and blog posts denouncing the utterly incompetent handling of this matter, but I also maintain that POC need to stop encouraging our kids to go into the American military.  Let all the straight white boys go to war and defend the hypocrisy of this democracy.  It's quite fitting when you think about it.  In the meantime, our days of service need to end now.  America has been thoroughly ungrateful towards POC who - whether voluntarily or involuntarily - have contributed their very lives to make this country worth anything.  And America has been profoundly irresponsible with the benefits provided by the contributions of POC.

As 2012 ends, so does this.

Chén Yǔhuī (May 26, 1992 – October 3, 2011)

13 comments:

  1. amerikkka is not a democracy. it is an empire.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And people wonder why Black folks "complain"?

    This didn't surprise me not one bit. If you're a POC and you're going up against a White person,whether you committed a crime against them or if you're in Danny Chens position..where a White person commits a crime against a POC,there is no justice for them.If there is some so called justice,theyll only serve a ridiculously short period of time in jail or get probation.

    Coming from a military family,I thought about going to the Army or Navy at one time,but its stuff like Danny's thay keeps me from enlisting.I mean,why should we serve our country when were being treated like second class citizens.Even our own president is not treated as an American because of who he is.My folks thought that my sibling and me should have joined and they cant understand why were the first generation of kids that didnt join,especially the guys.They keep hounding how we can get scholarships,VA loans and travel the world,but I can do that without being in the military..Besides too many men and women have died never getting any of these things.Im sorry,but much as I would like to have these things,its not worth me dying for and its not worth me losing my life for a country that doesn't treat POCS as their equals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "why should we serve our country when were being treated like second class citizens"

      Agreed. Puts me in the mind of this quote:

      “My conscious won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father… Shoot them for what? …How can I shoot them poor people, Just take me to jail.” ~ Muhammad Ali

      I've never had a desire to "serve" my country for this very reason.

      Delete
    2. Another variation of the quote by the venerable Muhammad Ali went something along the lines of, "No Vietcong ever called me nigger".

      Delete
    3. *nods* Hence why there's more than one reason he's called "the Greatest".

      Delete
  3. I've heard of this case. The young man in question (may his soul rest in peace) was apparently bullied because he was sloppy on the job. One instance given was that he apparently fell asleep during sentry duty whilst in Afghanistan. Playing the devil's advocate here, had his superiors given him a dressing down of significant severeness (I imagine it to be like Jamie Foxx's character in Jarhead) for his slip-up(s), I would not argue there. A mistake in the course of duty, be it on or off the battlefield translates into human lives at stake. Sleeping on sentry guard was just one.

    That having said, the fact that he offed himself because of the racial taunts & mockery of his ethnic heritage is little (in fact, none at all) surprise to me. I concur with all the commentators on this post, especially M. Ironically, sounding like a whining coward here, but Asian-Americans are easy targets. Can anyone imagine one's military superior or even a drill sergeant using the words "nigger", "coon", "spook", "darkie", "sambo" in this day and age? No, methinks not. All due to the fact that black Americans will not take such events sitting down; while I can't say the same of Asian-Americans. It's a cultural habit from days of old, don't complain in the face of difficulty, just suck it in & pray that it passes with better times ahead. Drinking the Kool-Aid, that's what it is. And as we all know, this doesn't work in the States, with white folk be they active/willing suppressors, or blonde/blue-eyed sheeple.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ironically, sounding like a whining coward here, but Asian-Americans are easy targets.

    You're not whining and you're not being a coward. Asians are easy targets, and not just in the military.

    The young man in question (may his soul rest in peace) was apparently bullied because he was sloppy on the job.

    A dead man can't defend himself so I tend to take statements like these with a grain of salt, especially when the ONLY Chinese American in the entire unit committed suicide from bullying.

    Can anyone imagine one's military superior or even a drill sergeant using the words "nigger", "coon", "spook", "darkie", "sambo" in this day and age?

    It does happen, actually. Being racially or sexually harassed in the American military is a time-honored tradition. Which is why women, gays, and POC need to stop serving.

    ReplyDelete
  5. In most cases its more covert.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. signed, I'm disappointed there are so few signatures.

      Delete
  7. "Playing the devil's advocate here, had his superiors given him a dressing down of significant severeness (I imagine it to be like Jamie Foxx's character in Jarhead) for his slip-up(s), I would not argue there. A mistake in the course of duty, be it on or off the battlefield translates into human lives at stake."


    Hazing/abuse and disciplinary action are two entirely different things.

    According to reports, Chen had been dragged across the ground for failing to turn off a shower water pump. While water and energy conservation in a combat zone may be a priority, I seriously doubt that human life was directly compromised because of such a lapse. But beyond that, the military, like any other top-down organization, has established legitimate guidelines and protocols to address disciplinary problems when the need arises. I'm sure we'd be hard-pressed to find any military handbook that recommends dragging a private across the ground for not turning off a water pump.

    The problem was not Chen's job performance. This problem is the Army's leadership failure. The problem is that people with obviously poor character and sadistic inclinations were given a measure of authority that they used to torment another human being with. In my old life, I worked under a black man who spent something like 20 years in the military, and rose to the highest rank that one can attain as an enlisted person in the Air Force. He always told me that he never, ever, ever disciplined an airman to the extent that he would discipline that person's superior. Why? Because the ultimate responsibility lies with the person who has the most authority. So even IF Chen was underperforming, it was probably more of a reflection of his immediate leadership than his own capabilities. After all, if you have to resort to abusing people to get them to do their job, what does that say about you?

    Anyways. This whole thing is so nasty. I'm really gobsmacked that his case didn't get more traction than this. And even on a practical level, doesn't this fly in the face of the whole group cohesion thing that's kinda central to the military achieving its aims?

    ReplyDelete

Comments are no longer accepted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.