Demarcating the Nation: Naturalizing Cold War Legacies and War on Terror Policies
Snow: Let me start basic here. Is the U.S. government becoming Big Brother?
Dinh: No, it is not. We are engaged in a full-frontal war against terrorism and we are fighting that war on two fronts, obviously. Abroad, our men and women are fighting bravely. But here, we are trying to fight the threat of terrorism by preventing and disrupting future terrorist activity. We are very careful in targeting our actions, our regulatory enforcement and preventative actions [will be] directed at terrorists. If you are a terrorist, you have every reason to fear the United States of America. But if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you have every reason to be free from fear.
—VIET DINH, DECEMBER 8, 2001
On the one hand, the Cold War is gone; we don’t have to worry about a Soviet Union with whom we are eyeball-to-eyeball, poised with weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, we have a much more disorderly set of threats, much more networked, much more widely distributed, much more difficult to deter and, unfortunately, much better enabled to carry out acts of violence because of what modern technology affords in terms of weapons, in terms of the ability to operate over the Internet, and in terms of the means of travel around the globe and communication around the globe, literally in real time or less.
—MICHAEL CHERTOFF, APRIL 7, 2008
In early April 2001, an M-17 helicopter crashed into a mountain range south of Hanoi, killing all sixteen on board.1 Of the sixteen-member team, seven were U.S. armed forces personnel. Its primary mission—the search for soldiers’ remains—was part of a two-decade-long Vietnam War recovery program intended to facilitate closure for veteran’s families.2 Despite the war’s traumatic resonance within U.S. national memory, the April 7 crash received scant media attention due to another event in the South China Sea. Six days prior to the Hanoi crash and 297 miles away, a U.S. Navy surveillance plane collided with a Chinese military jet over Hainan Island in the People’s Republic of China.3 Labeled in major media outlets as the “Hainan Island incident,” the twenty-four-member American crew was summarily detained on a Chinese military base. For a tense eleven-day period, the recently installed George W. Bush administration and the People’s Republic of China government traded accusations of espionage, contradictory claims to “international air space,” and heated allegations about responsibility.
While the U.S. commander-in-chief technically apologized for the collision (with the president publicly expressing “regret” and “sorrow” to the wife of downed Chinese fighter pilot Wang Wei), the Bush administration nevertheless refused to call off future spy missions in the region. And though a measured executive letter of apology was issued, leading to the crew’s release, the Chinese government rejected U.S. demands to return the downed spy plane. Within this politically charged milieu, the stage was set for an inevitable Chinese-U.S. foreign policy conflict.4 Significantly, the incident marked the first foreign policy crisis in the George W. Bush presidency, portending the East Asian focus of U.S. military strategy at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Indeed, with emergent economic dominance and increased political importance, buttressed by an ever-growing industrial complex and strengthened military arsenal, China appeared to be the principal threat to U.S. national security. Concomitantly, the Hainan Island incident was geopolitically reminiscent of the Vietnam War. Located just west of the Gulf of Tonkin, Hainan Island was geographically near the site of the alleged August 2, 1964, “North Vietnamese attack” on the U.S.S. Maddox. The U.S.S. Maddox incident proved a foundational foreign policy event for the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration, which used the assault as a pretext for war. Soon after, the president issued the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which signaled the beginning of the eleven-year Vietnam War.
The 2001 conflict with the communist Chinese nation-state, Hainan Island’s geographic proximity, and the political back-and-forth potently gestured toward cold war déjà vu, despite the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For these reasons, if the Hainan Island incident echoes Vietnam War–era geopolitics, then the M-17 Hanoi crash unavoidably harkens back to the war’s unresolved conclusion. The previous year (2000) marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the symbolic end of the Vietnam War. Fittingly, Vietnamese refugee-turned-U.S.-citizen Viet D. Dinh authored a March 16, 2000, Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Coming to Grips with Vietnam,” commemorating and contemplating the war’s ongoing legacy.
The Model Minoritization of Viet Dinh
Born on February 22, 1968, in Saigon, Viet Dinh was intimately familiar with the U.S. cold war effort. His father, Phong Dinh, was a South Vietnamese Air Force pilot. Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Dinh’s father was imprisoned in a reeducation camp until his 1978 escape. That year, Dinh, his mother, and six older siblings, along with eighty-five other refugees, left Vietnam. As revealed in a May 10, 2001, Orange Country Register article, the Dinh family braved “storms, hunger, and gunfire in the South China Sea,” and endured twelve days without food or water until they reached the Malaysian shore. Even then, the Dinh family faced more hardship. “Met by gunfire and cast back into the South China Sea,” Dinh and his siblings swam to shore, “sure their boat could not withstand another sea voyage.”5 Their mother Nguyen stayed aboard, destroying the boat with an axe so that the family could remain in a Malaysian refugee camp.
The Dinh family (minus their father and a sister) eventually made their way to Portland, Oregon, where they subsisted as migrant farmers who worked the region’s strawberry fields. The Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 profoundly impacted the Pacific Northwestern agricultural industry, forcing yet another Dinh family relocation to Fullerton, California. To make ends meet, Viet Dinh worked in fast food restaurants, and taught himself English by reading The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. A teenaged transnational actor, Dinh sent a portion of his service industry earnings to his sister and father in Vietnam. Dinh’s father finally came to the United States in 1983. With an extra household wage earner, Dinh quit his after-school jobs and focused on his studies. He attended Harvard College and furthered his postgraduate study at Harvard Law School. In 1992, while a law school student, Dinh successfully negotiated his sister’s relocation from a Hong Kong refugee camp.6
Taken together, Dinh’s familial story—and his meteoric rise from Vietnamese refugee to Harvard Law School graduate—coincides with the late twentieth-century master narrative of other Asian/Asian American “model minorities” who either came to the United States as refugees or whose parents were first-generation immigrants. Concurrently, this model minority master narrative intersects with an analogous reading of Jewish American identity. These immigrants were to varying degrees the focus of an August 31, 1987, Time magazine headline, “Those Asian-American Whiz Kids.” The cover story, “Education: The New Whiz Kids,” examined the phenomenon of Asian American academic achievement, which “appear[ed] to be another success story for the American dream, an example of the continuing immigrant urge to succeed and of the nation’s ability to thrive on the dynamism of its new citizens.”7 Acknowledging the resurgence of anti-Asian “yellow peril” resentment and the homogenizing nature of the model minority stereotype, Time reporter Brand nevertheless reasoned, “even with these problems, many Asian-American students are making the U.S. education system work better for them than it has for any other immigrant group since the arrival of East European Jews began in the 1880s.”8
Presupposing the assimilation of East European Jews and the correlative systemic manipulation of education by Asian/Asian American students, Brand implies that Asian Americans, like their model minority Jewish predecessors, are naturalized subjects (“new” U.S. citizens) engaged in the pursuit and fulfillment of the American dream. Though not featured in the Time magazine story, Dinh’s story certainly adhered to its basic narrative of Asian American perseverance, hard work, and success. After law school, Dinh worked as a law clerk to Judge Laurence H. Silberman on the U.S. Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He joined the academic ranks in 1996, where he became the first and only Vietnamese American law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.9 While at Georgetown, Dinh was the codirector of the Asian Law and Policy Studies program. His legal expertise and personal story made him a seemingly perfect candidate to write “Coming to Grips with Vietnam.”
Given the venue, Dinh’s “Coming to Grips with Vietnam” was concentrated on the region’s economic landscape. The essay nonetheless begins with Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s trip to Vietnam, the first such visit by a defense secretary since the war’s end. The former refugee Dinh maintains that Cohen’s trip “raises delicate issues for America, for Vietnam and for the millions of people affected by the conflict. . . . For America, this year marks a quarter century since our defeat. Despite all the talk of healing, of mistakes, even of apologies, Vietnam remains deeply ingrained in the American psyche as a gentle reminder of our fallibility.”10 Stating that 2000 “marks a quarter century since our defeat” (emphasis added), Viet Dinh reminds readers that the war was forged through an alliance between the United States and the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). The war’s enduring psychological legacy is made apparent in Dinh’s assertion that despite all the talk of healing, of mistakes, even of apologies, Vietnam remains deeply ingrained in the American psyche.
Conversely, the American War in Vietnam continues to haunt Dinh’s former country of origin. This bilateral reading is made visible in Dinh’s more extensive claim that the
U.S. was not alone in its defeat. Our ally, the Republic of Vietnam, and more broadly the people of Vietnam, also lost. The end of the war marked the beginning of a new life for hundreds of thousands of boat people—my family among them—who risked their lives to find freedom elsewhere. Those who remained saw the continuation of war via border conflicts with China and the invasion of Cambodia, severe shortages wrought by economic mismanagement, and the loss of basic freedom and dignity. . . . Fortuitous public compassion made me a U.S. citizen, a rider on the wave of prosperity. But the people of Vietnam remain the most impoverished in the world.11
Alluding to “hundreds of thousands of boat people” and with the related admission that his family was among them, Dinh implicitly articulates his transnational location vis-à-vis the Vietnam War. A boat person who “risked his life to find freedom elsewhere,” Dinh necessarily crossed nation-state borders en route to “freedom” and “prosperity.” Representative of a post-Vietnam War flow of bodies, Dinh is a transnational subject formed from the multivalent U.S./Republic of Vietnam defeat. Simultaneously, Dinh’s vocalization of U.S. selfhood is contrasted with the Vietnamese who remained. The victims of communist foreign policy and mismanagement, those who remained suffered “the loss of basic freedom and dignity.”
The use of “our defeat” and “our fallibility” hints at another transnational dimension to the war’s impact. Such currents of psychic trauma operate in tandem with the flow of refugees into the United States as a result of “our defeat.” The persistence of “failure” in spite of talk of healing, of mistakes, even of apologies bespeaks a conservative cold war logic wherein success is mapped according to democratic triumph. Additionally, the mention of economic mismanagement is fixed to an equally conservative reading of communism through failed fiscal policy.
Still, this is not to suggest a total reading of failure vis-à-vis Vietnam. As Dinh reveals, this collective articulation—which bonds an extant nation-state to a now nonexistent one—is joined to his own experience as a boat person or Vietnamese refugee. On the one hand, a forced transnational subject at age ten, Dinh as stateless noncitizen embodies the failure of the South Vietnamese cause. On the other hand, Dinh’s successful conversion to American selfhood (as refugee-turned-citizen) exemplifies a “winning” combination of affect and capitalist faith. The marriage of emotion to American citizenship is made clear in Dinh’s contention that “fortuitous public compassion made me a U.S. citizen, a rider on the wave of prosperity.” Granted access to economic prosperity through naturalization, Dinh is the emblematic communist Vietnamese refugee rehabilitated through flows—or “waves”—of democratic virtue and economic prosperity.
Dinh’s deliberate use of “public compassion” parallels Republican presidential frontrunner George W. Bush’s political platform of “compassionate conservatism,” which fixed “liberal” concerns about human rights and welfare to corporate models of efficiency.12 In addition, the connection between Dinh and the president certainly did not end at the level of semantics. Politically, the two shared an undeniable belief in and commitment to neoconservative principles. Neoconservative thought depends on the domestic reduction of government programs and the foreign policy use of military/economic power in the global spread of “democracy” and “free markets,” and Dinh’s article makes plain those tenets. A confirmed “patriot” willing to eschew a home in communist Vietnam for capitalistic prosperity in the United States, firmly committed to the U.S. imperial project abroad, the thirty-four-year-old Dinh becomes a model representative of turn-of-the-twenty-first-century neoconservative Republicanism.
Furthermore, as a veteran neoconservative legal practitioner, Dinh worked closely with Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato (R-NY) during the Senate investigation of President Bill Clinton’s “Whitewater” hearings (1994–1995) and was a constant presence in Clinton’s impeachment trial (1998). Most remarkable, regardless of the fact that naturalized citizens cannot ascend to the presidency, Dinh managed to have a hand in deciding the executive victor, having written a “friend-of-the-court” Supreme Court brief on behalf of pro-Bush Florida voters in Bush v. Gore (2000).13 Consequently, Viet D. Dinh’s nomination for assistant attorney general in the Office of Policy Development came as no surprise to long-time Bush supporters and neoconservative Republicans, who openly speculated that the Vietnamese American candidate could someday be the first Asian American justice in the nation’s highest court.14
Confirming Whiteness: Viet Dinh and Michael Chertoff
On May 10, 2001, Republican senator Peter Domenici (New Mexico) enthusiastically introduced the judicial nominee Viet Dinh, who “wiped tears from his eyes as [the New Mexico senator] chronicled his remarkable journey from a 10–year-old fleeing Vietnam in a boat to a law professor facing a congressional panel.”15 During the closing arguments of Dinh’s confirmation hearing, Domenici told President Pro Tempore Strom Thurmond and members of the Judiciary Committee that before them was “a Vietnamese scholar who just twenty-three years ago was a young man out on a boat at sea who could just as well have drowned, and we never would have heard from him. But because of a loving family around him, they eventually ended up American citizens.” The cause and effect relationship Domenici establishes—wherein a “loving family” is a necessary ingredient for “American citizenship”—joins affective relationships of love to state-authorized U.S. selfhood. At the same time, Domenici’s use of “Vietnamese scholar” instead of the more accurate label “Vietnamese American scholar” destabilizes (through non-inclusion) the New Mexico senator’s subsequent assertion of U.S. citizenship. Regardless, Domenici’s characterization of Dinh’s voyage from refugee to U.S. citizen as “a spectacular American story” makes possible a reading of the Dinh family narrative through U.S. cold war politics and Kissinger-era realpolitik.
Dinh’s familial story highlights the constant cold war deployment of U.S. military power in the service of spreading democracy around the globe. Individually, Viet Dinh as Americanized, naturalized subject becomes the U.S. foreign policy byproduct of “benevolent assimilation” whereby the formerly inimical is made a present-day “friend of the regime.” A cold war warrior at the tender age of ten, Dinh’s commitment to the U.S. nation-state must have struck a chord with the Senate’s pro tempore president Thurmond, who almost twenty-five years earlier (in 1975) shouted his support for South Vietnam’s Saigon regime from a bullhorn.16 Resisting communist totalitarianism, bearing the forceful elements of the South China Sea, and waiting patiently for refugee sponsorship, Dinh’s triumphant story of survival concludes with the candidate’s U.S. naturalization. In his closing remarks to the committee, Domenici asserted that “despite this tumultuous beginning, Dinh persevered . . . More than that, he excelled.”17 Central to Domenici’s characterization of Dinh the nominee is a model minority “rags-to-riches” Asian-focused narrative, wherein the Vietnamese refugee turned U.S. citizen effectively perseveres in the face of overwhelming political and environmental odds.
Reacting to Domenici’s recapitulation of his life story, Dinh the nominee told the committee: “That image of my mother destroying our last link to Vietnam really stands out in my mind to this day as to the courage she possesses, but also the incredible lengths which my parents, like so many other people, have gone to in order to find that promise of freedom and opportunity.”18 The maternal act that stands out in Dinh’s mind hinges on the obliteration of “our last link to Vietnam.” The association Dinh expresses between his mother’s physical severance of ties to Vietnam and “courage” underscores the heroic dimensions of nation-state repudiation through filial acceptance. Though unintentional, Dinh’s articulation of destroying links to the country of origin motions toward the very grammar of naturalization, which obliges applicants to publicly articulate voluntary repudiations of the country of origin. Dinh’s naturalization performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee—embedded in the retelling of his mother’s valiant act—lacks the transnational registers apparent in his Wall Street Journal op-ed published the previous year.
Correspondingly, Dinh’s refugee status (constructed through a forced relocation) is recast vis-à-vis “voluntary” immigrant desires to “find that promise of freedom and opportunity.” Omitted from Dinh’s account is any discernible loyalty to the former country of origin, Vietnam. For all intents and purposes, Dinh “remakes himself” from involuntary refugee to willing American who, like “so many other people,” had gone to “incredible lengths” to come to the United States in search of the American dream. In the same way, the Senate Judiciary Committee, composed solely of white lawmakers, is both witness to Dinh’s judicial confirmation and a de facto audience for his naturalization. Dinh’s refugee story, forged within the crucible of failed U.S. foreign policy, is all the same well-suited to a euphemistic teleology of U.S. nationhood built on tolerance, access, and promise.
And, though Senator Domenici portrayed the nominee’s story as “a spectacular American story,” Dinh’s biographical narrative and response make apparent a particular American story that draws together U.S. imperial logics of benevolent assimilation, democratic notions of virtue, and neoconservative multiculturalism.19 This particular American story conveniently engenders a naturalized model minoritization in which the formerly communist subject becomes a U.S. patriot. Dinh’s love of the U.S. nation-state is publicly emphasized through his unrelenting belief in American prosperity and passionate dislike for the communist regime in his country of origin. Quoted in a September 18, 2002, article about the Vietnamese American’s rise through the political and juridical ranks, Dinh’s mother told a Los Angeles Times reporter that her son “had a hatred of the Communists because I made him understand it was the Communists who had taken his father away from the house and put him in prison.”20 Hence, Viet Dinh’s commitment to the U.S. nation-state ostensibly emerges from familial loyalty that intersects with “family values,” a hallmark conservative platform issue.
The “model minoritization” of Dinh’s confirmation hearing, formed through the filial Asian subject turned loyal Asian American, initially stands in conspicuous contrast to the treatment of a “fellow model minority” candidate, Jewish American Michael Chertoff. Dinh’s confirmation hearings coincided with Chertoff’s nomination for assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division in the Department of Justice. Notwithstanding similar political sympathies, the two candidates were presented quite differently during the confirmation hearings. Whereas Dinh’s Vietnamese background was central to establishing the “story of his candidacy,” Chertoff’s personal narrative was for the most part absent from the confirmation hearing.
Instead, central to Chertoff’s nomination was a recapitulation of his vita, which included degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School (like fellow nominee Viet Dinh), his previous Judicial Branch appointment, and past publications about Miranda and civil rights.21 Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of Rabbi Gershon Baruch Chertoff, a Talmud scholar and former leader of the city’s Congregation B’nai Israel, and Livia Chertoff, a flight attendant for El Al Israel Airlines, Chertoff also took a prominent role in the Senate Whitewater investigation as special counsel. A 1990 George H. W. Bush administration U.S. attorney appointee, Chertoff, like Dinh, was an established long-time supporter of the neoconservative Republican agenda, a fact made clear in his position in the 2000 George W. Bush campaign as a primary criminal justice advisor and active fundraiser.22 Four years after the 2001 confirmation hearings, Chertoff would be best known not for his professional accomplishments but for his failures as the secretary for homeland security, which were the subject of congressional hearings following the disastrous FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Moreover, if Dinh’s confirmation hearing at times resembled a naturalization ceremony, then the absence of any discussion of Chertoff’s immigrant past by the Senate Judiciary Committee gestured toward an incontrovertibly “natural” citizenship status. A native-born citizen of the United States, Chertoff exemplified a long-held “American story” of the multigenerational immigrant subject. The grandson and son of two Talmud scholars invested in studying Jewish civil and religious law, Chertoff’s familial past accessed a pre-1965 Hart-Cellar Act story, which by 2001 lacked the “recent-memory” power of Dinh’s 1978 refugee story of escape. Alternatively, within this context whiteness functions as a hegemonic index of privilege and power. Accordingly, Chertoff’s unmarked status as a Jewish American in the confirmation hearings attests to his location within an assimilated U.S. hierarchy.23
Yet Chertoff’s citizenship status—as an American—would ironically materialize as a contested issue among ultraconservative bloggers, hate group organizations, and anti-Israel pundits despite his neoconservative credentials.24 Following Chertoff’s 2005 nomination as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, speculation arose in far right-wing corners as to whether Bush’s pick was a “true” American citizen. Citing the candidate’s matrilineal background (Chertoff’s mother was an Israeli national), conspiracy theorists vociferously challenged Chertoff’s allegiance to the United States. Such attacks, which quickly assumed anti-Semitic tones and recapitulated racist arguments about a “Jewish global conspiracy,” repeatedly mentioned the “fact” that Israeli law allowed non-native Jews citizenship status. Whereas Dinh’s maternal recollection was largely accepted because it reproduced a story of repudiation of Vietnam, vital to the Chertoff controversy was Chertoff’s mother, who allegedly, through reproduction, created a foreign and possibly traitorous body.25
This de jure citizenship, wherein the child of an Israeli national was presumably automatically granted political nation-state status, was never authenticated by mainstream presses and media outlets. In fact, the charge of dual citizenship was denied by Chertoff himself. Situated within a more expansive framework, the accusation of disloyalty via dual citizenship intersects with a century-long anti-transnational logic. On the one hand, such a reactionary line of reasoning characterized Chertoff as an Israeli citizen because of birthright (as the son of an Israeli national). On the other hand, the would-be homeland security secretary was an “American” by birthplace (in Elizabeth, New Jersey). The contestation over Chertoff’s supposed dual citizenship, predicated on familial affiliation, highlights the still probationary limitations of Jewish Americanness within the dominant twenty-first-century U.S. imaginary.
Even so, Dinh and Chertoff were successfully confirmed by a 96–1 and 95–1 Senate vote, respectively (with the sole dissent coming from the newly elected Democratic senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton). All in all, Dinh and Chertoff—despite discernible differences in the content of the 2001 Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings—were implicitly and explicitly read as two naturalized model minorities. For the Vietnamese American Dinh, his status as a model minority was confirmed in accordance with a pro-U.S. cold war/Vietnam War–era narrative and Horatio Alger “refugee rags to U.S. citizen riches” story. For the Jewish American Chertoff, his model minorityhood initially afforded the candidate an unquestioned American citizenship. If the political task before literary producers Abraham Cahan, Edith Maude Eaton, Mary Antin, and Israel Zangwill was to legitimize the immigrant U.S. citizen, then it would appear in the cases of Dinh and Chertoff that their twentieth-century arguments had reached fruition and resolution by 2001.
What is more, the very strategies each used to challenge assertions of inassimilability and perpetual foreignness—constructed through citizenship grammar, pledges of allegiance, and naturalization rhetoric—are apparent in the Dinh-Chertoff confirmation hearings. At stake for each candidate (admittedly at very different points) is the proof of one’s loyalty to the nation-state through legible means of repudiation and negation. In Dinh’s case, such refutation involved the cold war and communist Vietnam. In the Chertoff circumstance, the denial of Israeli political affiliations functioned as requirement for his continued political U.S. citizenship. Still, the questions around Chertoff’s citizenship in particular make evident the bifurcated Jewish immigrant body as expressed in Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation and underscore the political work left to be done at the level of identity politics. Concurrently, the cold war, post–civil rights dimensions that necessarily inflected the Dinh hearings in particular attest to the voluntary affiliations of Gish Jen’s protagonist Mona and politics of containment in Chin Y. Lee’s Flower Drum Song.
In the face of such “citizenship trials,” it is therefore all the more striking that both Dinh and Chertoff would, in less than four months, be at the forefront of writing one of the most far-reaching pieces of immigration regulation into law: the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act. Despite the progressive politics that arguably made possible the confirmation of two “minority” candidates, Dinh and Chertoff would take on the more conservative anti-immigrant work of Murkherjee’s heroine Jasmine, whose U.S. selfhood is predicated on and strengthened through her ability to enforce the “closed door” desires of the state. Whether such work took the form of law or the shape of a border fence, both Justice Department employees would be responsible for demarcating the U.S. nation in the opening decade of the twenty-first century.
A Question of Security: Demarcating the Nation
A truck and a keen sense of horse-trading had provided a good living for Herman Fine. He bought from and sold primarily to Japanese hotel-keepers and grocers. No transaction was made without considerable haggling and clever maneuvering, for the Japanese . . . were a shifty lot whose solemn promises frequently turned out to be groundwork for more extended and complex stratagems to cheat him out of his rightful profit. Herman Fine listened to the radio and cried without tears for the Japanese, who, in an instant of time that was not even a speck on the big calendar, had taken their place beside the Jew. The Jew was used to suffering. The writing for them was etched in caked and dried blood over countless generations upon generations. The Japanese did not know. . . . The Jap-Jew would look in the mirror this Sunday night and see a Jap-Jew.
—JOHN OKADA, NO NO BOY
At the beginning of September 2001, with a U.S. foreign policy agenda largely focused on the “China question,” the Bush administration turned its domestic attention to the increasingly difficult “immigration question.” As had haunted previous administrations, what to do with foreign bodies would persist as a touchstone issue for President George W. Bush, who on the campaign trail repeatedly promised immigration reform. Even after the passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted 2.6 million undocumented immigrants amnesty, and the 1996 Immigration Law Amendments, which legislatively strengthened provisions for policing and deporting immigrants, immigration remained a “front and center” issue, directed primarily at the estimated three million undocumented workers from Mexico.27 Amid a resurgent nativism revealed through amplified calls to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, the second president Bush attempted (at least publicly) to mediate a more “compassionate conservative” response to the immigrant issue.
On September 5, 2001, the White House prepared for its first official meeting with a foreign head of state. The summit, which came out of the American president’s oft-repeated campaign assertion that “U.S. foreign policy begins at home,” involved President Vicente Fox of Mexico.28 Over an intense two-day period, which included an unprecedented joint cabinet session between Mexican and U.S. officials, Bush and Fox eventually agreed to further bilateral talks about temporary worker programs, free trade agreements, and immigration regulation. As the Bush/Fox meeting drew to a close, the White House optimistically issued a U.S./Mexico joint statement on September 6, 2001, pronouncing that:
Both Presidents agreed that U.S.-Mexican relations have entered their most promising moment in history. Our governments are committed to seizing the opportunities before us in this new atmosphere of mutual trust. The depth, quality and candor of our dialogue is unprecedented. It reflects the democratic values we share and our commitment to move forward boldly as we deepen this authentic partnership of neighbors.29
Stressing promise, trust, candor, and democratic values, the Bush White House release foretold a new vista in Mexico/U.S. relations built on collective goals and mutual agreements about undocumented Mexican immigrant bodies. Addressing what many anti-immigrant advocates considered the perilous porosity of the Mexico/U.S. border, the White House statement temporarily eschewed a delineated “us versus them” understanding in favor of neighborly characterizations and mutual understandings of democratic virtue.
In spite of benevolent bilateralism on the immigration policy horizon, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon five days later unquestionably reconfigured national discussions over immigration and irrefutably changed the direction of U.S. foreign policy. Memories of the Hainan Island incident and its subsequent political machinations quickly faded from national and political memory. The story of the 9/11 hijackers—as unlawful and infiltrating immigrants—not only outlined the perimeters of the War on Terror but also delineated a connected “war on immigration.” Allowed admission to the nation through “limitless” open-door visa programs, the hijackers took disastrous advantage of a purportedly too-permeable U.S. immigration policy.
Central to the War on Terror was the Bush Administration’s assault on the transnational flows of bodies into the nation. Regardless of the fact that all but one of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, U.S. foreign policy centered its sights on other nations in the Middle East—in particular Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. Following suit, Arab and South Asian American men in the United States were targeted, fingerprinted, and tracked. As many contemporary scholars and some media outlets at the time noted, the treatment of Middle Eastern and South Asian/American subjects echoed of the racialized management of Japanese and Japanese Americans six decades prior.
Responding to critiques of the administration’s racial/religious profiling of both U.S. citizens and immigrants by alleged ethnic activists, historians, and politicians, Asian American conservative pundit and Fox News fixture Michelle Malkin authored In Defense of Internment: The Case for Racial Profiling in World War II and the War on Terror (2004).30 Tired of such individuals “repeatedly play[ing] the World War II internment card after the September 11 attacks,” Malkin argued that:
The Bush Administration’s critics have equated every reasonable measure to interrogate, track, detain, and deport potential terrorists with the “racist” and “unjustified” World War II internment policies of President Roosevelt. To make amends for this “shameful blot” on our history, both Japanese-American and Arab/Muslim-American activists argue against any and all uses of race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion in shaping current homeland security policies. Misguided guilt about the past continues to hamper our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks.31
Though Malkin’s In Defense of Internment was panned for its historical inaccuracies and bombastic claims, her “defense” of the Bush administration’s interrogation and detainment of “potential terrorists” makes plain the neoconservative War on Terror strategy.32 Written three years after the planes crashed into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and a Shanksville, Pennsylvania field, Malkin’s contentions capture the neoconservative moment. Opportunistically drawing on the recent memory of the 9/11 attacks, neoconservative lawmakers used the threat of “imminent attack” to justify its expansion of U.S. military power. The neoconservative assault on civil rights and civil liberties in the aftermath of the attacks corresponded to a platform that called for the delimitation of the “domestic.”
Spearheading initiatives that facilitated increased border patrol, interrogation, detainment, and deportation, the Department of Homeland Security brought into one bureaucratic space the multifaceted police work of the Immigration and Natuaralization Service (INS) and the Department of Justice. Whereas the Fox/Bush meeting days before September 11 motioned toward a possible opening up of borders via temporary worker programs, the post-9/11 creation of the Department of Homeland Security answered the reactionary call to rid the country of pathogenic elements and once again “shut the door.” Mediating the “threat over there” alongside “threats over here,” the turn-of-the-twenty-first-century focus on immigration regulation and discussions about immigrant bodies bring to light an increasingly rigid construction between the foreign-born, the native-born, and the naturalized.
Specifically, for those foreign-born and/or naturalized, the question of citizenship relied on the legibility of what constituted an “American” body. For Muslims/Muslim Americans, Middle Eastern/Middle Eastern Americans, and South Asian/South Asian Americans, the administration’s intimation of an immigrant fifth column harkens back to Malkin’s aforementioned justification of internment. Such characterizations also make evident a racialized terrorist script that in turn fueled attacks on mosques, personal assaults, and hate speech. For those outside of those scripts (like Dinh and Chertoff), the nonterrorist “friend of the state” was afforded unquestioned U.S. citizenship and, by extension, the hegemonic power of whiteness.33 The classification of “Americans” versus “non-Americans” was forged via fears over “legality” and “security.” The judicial treatment of both legal and undocumented immigrants as lawless, heretofore uncontrolled threats to U.S. nationhood and national security expose a War on Terror imaginary marked by the inflexible redrawing of boundaries, the increased policing of national spaces, and the heightened concern to standardize movement across borders.
Unmaking Americans: The USA PATRIOT Act and Immigration Policy
The push to stem post-1965 waves of immigration makes available a crucial context in which to contemplate Viet Dinh’s political position in the Bush administration’s War on Terror. Cynically renamed “Viet Spin” by critics because of the assistant attorney general’s penchant for political maneuvering, Dinh found renewed relevance within a multivalent matrix of “us versus them” allegations, anti-immigrant sentiment, and anti-Arab and anti-South Asian anxiety.34 As a refugee made good, Dinh’s nonwhite racial identity and non-U.S. birthright offered conservatives an immigrant story that carried the potential to deflect assertions of nativism, counter allegations of racism, and support claims of U.S. exceptionalism and “progress.”
In addition, Dinh’s commitment to idealized democracy and hawkish U.S. foreign policy was in sync with prevailing neoconservative platforms. Specifically, Dinh’s racial diversity, refugee past, and affective patriotism fit a conservative cooptation of multiculturalism focused on identity difference and ideological sameness. As many have noted, the George W. Bush cabinet was among the more racially (though not ideologically) diverse cabinets ever assembled. Nevertheless, Condoleeza Rice, Alberto Gonzales, and others were very much committed conservatives. Similar to Dinh with regard to his strategic deployment of the Vietnam War, Rice had on at least one occasion (in a 60 Minutes interview), likened the civil rights movement to the U.S. position in the War on Terror.35
As a 2002 Los Angeles Times article titled “At Home in War on Terror” makes clear, Dinh had become a powerful member of the Bush administration “brain trust” after 9/11. Stressing that he “did not sign up for war,” Dinh nonetheless maintained that after September 11 “it’s a profound honor really to serve your country in a time of crisis. I can’t imagine a better place for me to be right now.”36 Dinh’s vocalization of “patriotic honor” calls to mind his earlier performance during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and officious function at the Ellis Island naturalization ceremony. Further, the assistant attorney general’s pronouncement of national service speaks directly to a post-September 11 sense of public duty in the face of terrorism. Most significant, this same articulation evokes naturalization via the citizenship oath’s requirement of loyalty and service.
As a model minority, a model citizen, and a naturalized subject, Dinh publicly voices a willingness to “serve and protect” the U.S. nation. Such declarations are reminiscent of the naturalization oath, which requires successful applicants to make the following promise:
I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.37
Accordingly, Dinh’s declaration of service echoes to varying degrees required U.S. selfhood. Though Dinh would not militarily “bear arms on behalf of the United States,” the assistant attorney general “performed work of national importance under civilian direction.” And, Dinh’s performance of noncombatant service in the armed forces would take the form of regulating bodies deemed “enemy combatants” in the administration’s War on Terror.
Explicitly, Dinh’s “work of national importance” took form in the 2001 Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (the aforementioned USA PATRIOT Act). Co-authored with fellow judicial nominee Michael Chertoff, the USA PATRIOT Act was passed six weeks after the 9/11. Spanning 342 pages, hastily written, and quickly approved in the spirit of “homeland security,” the Dinh-Chertoff legislative act dramatically reshaped U.S. domestic and foreign policy to fit contemporaneous neoconservative politics. Ironically, the legislative purview of the act makes problematical the issue of “defending the Constitution,” for it distinctively limited constitutional protections for citizens and noncitizens alike.
Committed to the Bush principle that “U.S. foreign policy begins at home,” the Dinh-Chertoff PATRIOT Act legislatively revised the lines between immigration law and U.S. initiatives abroad. Expanding the reach of governmental power vis-à-vis U.S. citizens, the PATRIOT Act made possible the extensive policing of multiple bodies and groups through rubrics of war and terrorism. Within this politicized backdrop, Dinh’s self-characterization as a subject willing to serve his country (implicitly along with Chertoff) is principally built on the creation and wholesale support of mechanisms intended to limit civil liberties, heighten immigration regulation, and punish through denaturalization (apparent in deportations of those deemed dangerous to the nation-state). Thus, Dinh (and to a lesser extent Chertoff) “remade” himself again, transforming from cold war warrior to frontline soldier in the post-September 11 War on Terror.
Crucial to the PATRIOT Act was the question of state-legitimized selfhood, inclusive of affiliations to and rights afforded by a political nation-state.38 At the same time, the regulation of foreign bodies made possible through the act forces a legislative reading through immigrant frames. The key surveillance provisions of the PATRIOT Act—which codified the means through which terrorists could be apprehended domestically as well as abroad—necessarily engaged immigration and immigrant rights. As Nancy Chang, senior litigation attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, argues:
The executive branch’s ability to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence, places an array of new tools at the disposal of the prosecution, including new crimes, enhanced penalties, and longer statutes of limitations, and grants the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) the authority to detain immigrants suspected of terrorism for lengthy, and in some cases indefinite, periods of time. And at the same time that the Act inflates the power of the executive [branch], it insulates the exercise of these powers from meaningful judicial and Congressional oversight.39
The new home order created by the PATRIOT Act eliminated constitutional protections for immigrants (especially with regard to due process) and enabled the INS to detain noncitizen suspects for seven days before bringing criminal charges. The act made legislatively feasible the detention of immigrants without scrutiny. Analogous to the treatment of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay, those domestically detained could be held without charge and without access to a court of law for a period of up to six months.40
While the PATRIOT Act did not introduce new deportation legislation per se, it did give local, state, and federal agencies the power to ascertain immigrant threats to the nation. At the level of denaturalization logics, the Dinh-Chertoff act did strengthen—through enforcement—a specific provision in the 1996 immigration laws. This provision, whereby an immigrant (or alien) who had committed an “aggravated felony” was subject to arrest and deportation, became a functioning apparatus for retroactively ridding the nation of “undesirable bodies.” The term “aggravated felony” was at best inexact, impacting a wide array of individuals. Crimes that fell into this category included bad check writing (or kite-checking), forgery, tax evasion, domestic abuse, and more severe felonies such as assault, drug-trafficking, robbery, and murder.41
A month after the passage of the PATRIOT Act, Michael Chertoff, the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division, was asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to allegations that the Bush administration was failing to “respect the checks and balances that make up our constitutional framework.” Answering Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont), Chertoff averred, “Are we being aggressive and hard-nosed? You bet we are. In the aftermath of September 11, how could we not be?”42 At issue in the hearings was the unilateral strategy of the administration vis-à-vis the detainment and interrogation of alleged terrorist suspects without Congressional approval. Following the passage of the PATRIOT Act, the Bush administration issued a number of executive orders, including one that gave the president the right to try a suspected terrorist before a secret military tribunal that could, on two-thirds majority vote, impose the death penalty. Within a month, the Justice Department had questioned thousands of men from Middle Eastern countries and monitored conversations between lawyers and some defendants. The same week of the Senate Judiciary hearings, the Justice Department for the first time disclosed the names of ninety-three individuals in custody under federal criminal charges, but Chertoff’s superior—Attorney General John Ashcroft—refused to release the names of another 548 people arrested on charges of violating immigration regulations.
Analogous though not identical to the legislative treatment of World War II internees, the combination of surveillance and implied loyalty oaths in the USA PATRIOT Act parallels the multilateral efforts facilitated by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which facilitated the mass detainment of Japanese/Japanese Americans. The subsequent recruitment of Japanese/Japanese American men through the 1943 War Relocation Authority leave clearance program further parallels the “patriotic” dimensions of the Dinh-Chertoff act. On January 29, 1943, the War Relocation Authority sent out a press release detailing an application process for exiting the camps. Those interested in leaving were required to register and fill out an application. Among other questions on the 1943 Leave Clearance Application, the following two questions proved most significant for men of Japanese descent: “Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?” and “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power, or organization?”43 Both questions grammatically reflect the naturalization oath.
In particular, the willingness to “serve” is central to the first question, which directly interrogates the desire of the applicant to militarily defend the U.S. nation-state. The second question is in actuality three separate inquiries that use, as a primary subject, the practice of U.S. citizenship. At issue initially is the problem of allegiance vis-à-vis the Japanese/Japanese American applicant. The issue of allegiance is reconfirmed and revised to ascertain affective willingness to “faithfully defend the United States,” which evidently references the first question about military service. The requirement to “forswear any form of allegiance” replicates the previous condition to “swear unqualified allegiance.” Altogether, this citizenship polemic, which demands “unqualified allegiance to the United States,” uses the grammatical structure of the naturalization oath by requiring applicants to declare their love of country, defend the nation, and repudiate alleged transnational connections to Japan.
Simultaneously, to answer in the positive is to engage in a naturalized rhetoric of state-authorized U.S. citizenship. Conversely, negative responses were, as the imprisonment of so-called “no no boys” reveals, judged by the state as unpatriotic and anti-American acts. As a grammatical consideration of the Leave Clearance Application makes visible, the codification of loyalty to the nation followed a logic of repudiation. The grammar of post-Pearl Harbor citizenship adhered to a linguistic relationships wherein U.S. loyalty was necessarily established in contradiction to Japanese affiliations. Repudiation—which carries connotations of denial and refusal—is relevant to the politicized rhetoric that accompanied justifications of the PATRIOT Act.
The PATRIOT Act has understandably been analyzed through anti-neoconservative critiques focused primarily on the policing of civil liberties. Yet the very tenets that undergird it—establishing loyalty through covert surveillance and the delimitation of specific free speech freedoms—harkens back to previous denaturalization efforts and foregrounds a citizenship-oriented reading. In other words, at stake in the act’s prevailing narrative is the rhetorical distinction it makes between American citizens and “enemies of the state.” Integral to both the Dinh-Chertoff act and U.S. naturalization policy is the state-authorized ability to determine those bodies suitable for selfhood. Within this context, the practices engendered by the PATRIOT Act and extant naturalization law implicitly echoed past restrictionist policies and nativist arguments about “real Americans” and loyal citizens, paving the way for the removal of U.S. selfhood (denaturalization). From the surveillance of foreign students to the categorization of “terrorist aliens,” the act attempted to determine through politically unbridled scrutiny, containment, and detainment “immigrant enemies.”
Read through the rubrics of immigration, the PATRIOT Act naturally speaks to the grammar of immigration policy and naturalization law. As a domestic and foreign enterprise forged through the transnational routes (inclusive of countries of origin, foreign policy initiatives, and imperial endeavors), twentieth-century immigration policy is constructed through largely rigid languages of regulation and containment. The regulation rhetoric that necessarily undergirds immigration policy was historically unyielding in naturalization law, which from the outset collapsed the space between geographic borders (or ethnic classifications) and racial characterizations. Initially articulated in 1790 to include “free white persons,” naturalization law adhered to a binary racial logic well into the twentieth century. And, the PATRIOT Act, which similarly deploys such binaries, makes visible the demarcated dimensions of immigration law and citizenship discourse into the twenty-first century.
Resistive Acts and Progressive Conclusions
Indeed, Socioeconomic and cultural anxieties over immigrant bodies and their ability to move through borders fueled and continue to fuel immigration politics. Such politics reflect a century-long national dialectical struggle over thresholds, constitutive of open-door versus closed-door debates. Nevertheless, as evident in the work of authors included in Modeling Citizenship, the border was indeed challenged. In turn, these challenges—which strategically deployed the state-authorized requirements of naturalization—signal a potential resistive politics focused on viable and undeniable citizenship. Such resistive politics, which take place in the public imaginary of the published page, reveal the contradictions of U.S. nationhood and the limitations of U.S. selfhood, and foreground possibilities for change.
The political work of model minority writers through constitutional due process and citizenship is reflected in the larger arena of political protest at the turn of the twenty-first century. Of the many activists who challenged the PATRIOT Act, Japanese American Fred Korematsu makes most apparent a politics of resistance that militates against model minoritization and naturalized complicity. If Viet Dinh and Michael Chertoff represent the apex of naturalized neoconservatism and the failure of “identity politics” to push for systemic change, then Fred Korematsu’s six-decade-long story of denaturalization, retroactive absolution, and political protest engenders an alternative resistance formed through the removal of citizenship.
Fred Korematsu chose not to go to a processing center for Japanese/Japanese American evacuees in accordance with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s February 19, 1942, issuance of Executive Order 9066. On May 30, 1942, Korematsu was arrested and sent to Tanforan processing center. Korematsu was then transferred to the Topaz internment camp in Utah. Protesting his arrest and forced relocation, the Japanese American internee filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, maintaining that his constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen had been violated. His conviction and internment was upheld in a lower court, where Korematsu was found guilty of violating the order and sentenced to five years probation.44 He appealed the lower court’s ruling, and in 1944 Korematsu v. United States was heard before the Supreme Court.
In a 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, stating that Korematsu’s orders for evacuation did not reflect “hostility to him or his race.” The conviction stood and would remain on Korematsu’s record for the next forty years. Largely forgotten until the civil rights movement, Fred Korematsu was silent about his internment experience. However, as the Japanese American redress movement gathered political steam in the late 1970s and early 1980s, attention returned to the Koreamtsu case. In 1982, a legal team headed by Dale Minami sought to overturn Korematsu’s conviction, successfully doing so in 1984. The ruling reinvigorated the redress movement, and the Reagan administration issued an official U.S. government apology. In 1988, Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act, which afforded reparations for surviving internees. A decade later, in 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor given to a civilian. Recognizing Fred Korematsu’s position as a civil rights activist, the president averred, “In the long history of our country’s constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls—Plessy, Brown, Parks. To that distinguished list we add the name of Fred Korematsu.”45 Ironically, all those mentioned by the president “sought justice” precisely because they were denied the rights of U.S. citizens.
It would be easy to read Korematsu’s twentieth-century struggle through the essentialized frame of identity politics. However, central to Korematsu’s case—from the 1944 Supreme Court ruling to the 1998 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony—is the issue of denaturalization. Reclaiming his rights as a U.S. citizen in the face of internment, Korematsu challenged the racialized regulation of bodies. Despite his model minority status, the Japanese American nonetheless vocalized protest. And, though Korematsu v. United States was on the surface about Japanese American selfhood, it would resurface after 9/11 as a powerful reminder of overreaching government power, abuse, and state-sanctioned removals of citizenship.
Sixty years after Korematsu v. United States, the internment plaintiff wrote an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the defendant in Rumsfeld v. Padilla. In the brief, Korematsu drew on his own denaturalization experiences, stressing that allowing the Bush Administration (including Viet Dinh and Michael Chertoff) to “decide unilaterally who to detain, and for how long“ would cause “our country will repeat the same mistake of the past.”46 The court, ruling in favor of the defendant, restored citizenship, confirming the right of U.S. citizens to due process and civil rights protection. Additionally, the court’s ruling afforded similar rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees, who up to that point were juridically stateless.
If Fred Korematsu’s Supreme Court case and civil rights activism speak to both twentieth- and twenty-first-century citizenship struggles, then Palestinian American poet, political activist, and slam artist Suheir Hammad, like the other authors included above, articulates (through writing) a similar agenda. In particular, Hammad implicitly uses the politics of denaturalization as a means to a justice-oriented end. In “First Writing Since,” Hammad attempts to make verbal sense of her experiences as a noncitizen Arab American in a post-9/11 imaginary. A spoken word poem divided into seven parts, Hammad begins: “There have been no words. / I have not written one word. / no poetry in the ashes south of canal street. / no prose in the refrigerated trucks driving debris and dna.”47 Rendered silent by the 9/11 attacks and politically voiceless because of her Arab American-ness, Hammad nonetheless finds a resistive voice as the poem continues. Such expression is globally expanded to include both Americans and non-Americans impacted by the War on Terror.
Stressing that those “who will pay” will be “women, mostly colored and poor,” Hammad observes:
women will have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. “either you are with us, or with the terrorists”—meaning keep your people under control and your resistance censored. Meaning we got the loot and the nukes. / in america, it will be those amongst us who refuse blanket attacks on the shivering. those of us who work toward social justice, in support of civil liberties, in opposition to hateful foreign policies.48
Hammad’s purposeful deployment of the Bush administration rhetoric, reminiscent of Viet Dinh’s interview in the opening epigraph, is made less stable through definition. The women (who lack selfhood modifiers) are in effect stateless subjects. Drawing on the binary grammar of “either/or,” implicit in “American” versus “terrorist,” Hammad highlights the neoconservative imperial logics that give rise to the use of military power embodied by “the nukes” and built on the “loot” of U.S. capitalism. Hammad’s articulation of “control” and “censorship” establishes the stakes for resistance, which will be based on poetic—and therefore publicly enunciated—refusal.
In this regard, the Palestinian American poet performs a statelessness (confirmed by her admission that she feels “less American” and more “New York”) and revises the repuditative requirements of naturalization to fit a post-9/11 social justice order. Hence, like Korematsu, Hammad underscores the limitations of nation-state affiliation and naturalized complicity. Hammad draws on the power of refusal, vocally opposing “hateful foreign policies.” Her denaturalized position further enables a non-state-authorized support of “social justice” and “civil liberties.” Eschewing state-sanctioned citizenship, Suheir Hammad amends through selfhood the immigrant-focused activism of Abraham Cahan, Mary Antin, Edith Maude Eaton, and Israel Zangwill. At the same time, within a post-September 11 world of mixed feelings, the poet’s initial ambivalence speaks to Gish Jen’s Mona in the Promised Land, Chin Y. Lee’s The Flower Drum Song, and Eva Hoffman’s Lost in Translation. Most important, in foregrounding an alternative global citizenship, predicated on transnational civil rights, antiracist politics, and anti-imperial logics, Suheir Hammad signals a new, unbounded space for justice, modeling a progressive template for twenty-first century immigrant acts.