Guest speaker Eugene Moy told the two dozen people in attendance at Sunday’s membership program something rather surprising that some of us didn’t know-–well, me, anyway.
In describing during a fascinating and informative PowerPoint presentation how the Chinese had been coming to the United States since the Pilgrims in the 1600s and to California with many of our ancestors during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s, he mentioned the federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
President Chester A. Arthur signed the law that would prohibit Chinese immigration for more than 60 years until late 1943 when it was finally rescinded.
What? How did I miss that outrageous episode in any of my American history classes? (OK, maybe I was sleeping or passing notes or something.)
We frequently hear, especially here in Arcadia, about President Roosevelt’s infamous Executive Order 9066 that resulted in the relocation and internment of Japanese for several years during the paranoia following the bombing of Pearl Harbor ( was used as a temporary relocation center for about 6 months in 1942). Many believe that Order is a black mark in our history.
So, why is there not even a similar, let alone an appropriately higher level of awareness and indignation about this even more egregious law, and one that specifically targeted a single ethnic group for the only time in our history, and remained in effect for more than half a century?
In fact, sadly, the Chinese Exclusion Act had already been in place for 60 years when Roosevelt’s Order was issued, meaning that despite the Statue of Liberty beckoning “tired, poor, and huddled masses” of immigrants “yearning to be free,” the U.S. was racial profiling two Asian cultures simultaneously for nearly two years from 1942-43.
Read more by Scott Hettrick at ArcadiasBest.com.