Who is Lee Wong? West Chester trustee TAKES OFF shirt over Asian-American hate: 'Is this patriot enough?'
The Asian-American GOP politician showed scar marks on his chest that he sustained during his service in the US Army to protest against the anti-Asian mood which is being witnessed in the US
Security of Asian-Americans in the US has come under question in recent times after the Covid-19 pandemic that originated in China wreaked havoc here. The attacks at some spas in Atlanta last week in which six women of Asian descent were killed also made the issue a burning one. It is being questioned whether some of America’s top politicians set up a right precedent by addressing the deadly virus by its Chinese name.
Amid the controversy, something unusual happened in a suburb in Cincinnati. A local township trustee shocked those who gathered at the regular West Chester Township meeting this week by unbuttoning his shirt, to take on racism. Lee Wong, who is the president of the board of trustees, took off his coat and tie and lifted his shirt to exhibit deep scar marks across the chest saying he will not tolerate discrimination or racism. Wong, a former army veteran, said while showing his chest: “I’ll show you what patriotism looks like.”
Lee Wong, an elected official in West Chester, Ohio & @USArmy veteran with 20-years of service, took his shirt off during a town hall meeting on Wednesday and revealed scars he received during his service. “Is this patriot enough?” he asked #StopAsianHate https://t.co/3nCwTlVGxD pic.twitter.com/0R1TX3MTtp— James LaPorta (@JimLaPorta) March 26, 2021
“For too long, we have, I have, put up with a lot of s*** in silence, excuse the language, too afraid to speak out, fearing more abuse and discrimination,” Wong said. He also spoke about his immigration to the US as a teen and finishing high school here. He also recalled the phase in his life in Chicago when he was beaten up because of his race. He moved court against the treatment but the offenders were never punished.
Wong left the dais after his speech. He said: “I’m not afraid to walk around anymore. We are all the same. We are all equal." He also said earlier that things were getting worse.
Who is Lee Wong?
Wong, 69, is a Republican who is staying in the US for more than five decades now. The man is quite proud to have served in the West Chester Board of Trustees since he always wanted to do something good for the community. Wong has served more than one term as the president of the board of trustees of the town which has a population of 66,000 and is considered one of the “Best Places to Live” in the US. His position is equivalent to the mayor in an incorporated city where around 3,000 businesses are located with a strong presence of bio-tech firms. The man has indeed covered a long distance to become the president of a township where more than 90 percent of the population is White.
Wong, who feels his act of baring his chest came at the right time since the US is seeing a lot of anti-Asian rhetoric at the moment, lost his parents at the age of 12. An ethnic Chinese, Wong migrated to the US from Malaysia to pursue a degree in pharmacology in the early seventies. Wong, who sustained the chest scars during his two-decade long service in the military, never planned to become a politician in the US but one incident changed his life’s path towards that direction, China Daily reported.
When Wong was two years into his college studies, he was attacked by a White man who mistook him for a Japanese. The assault was serious and Wong had to be hospitalized. Wong subsequently filed a criminal complaint against the male and took him to court but was shocked to see that the latter continued to call him “Jap” in the court. “...he continued to call me ‘Jap’ in court contemptuously. The judge sentenced him to one-year, non-reporting probation only. That meant as long as he did not attack anyone else within a year and get reported, he was free,” Wong was quoted as saying by the daily.
“I was stupid and only 20 years old, I let it get into my head. I was confused and angry. For two years I was angry at the world and I hated White people, but I married a White woman later,” he said. Wong had thought of becoming a policeman later to take revenge after seeing Al Pacino’s newly released film ‘Justice’ but his application was trashed and he was mocked as a “Chinaman”. He then tried hard to get into the military where he got better treatment. He studied while serving in the military and got a bachelor’s degree in criminal science and applied for a position in the army police force’s CID -- Criminal Investigation Command. Wong is the first Chinese American to get into one of the most US Army organizations and it was during his stint in the army that he learned a lot about American politics.
After working as a police officer in Indiana for a few years, Wong shifted his family to West Chester in 2001 where he volunteered to collect tickets for football matches. He made a lot of contacts and became a known name in the community. In 2005, Wong campaigned and won a seat on the board and continued to win three more times. His current term ends this year but he plans to run once more.
In West Chester, Wong tried to improve the police department first by making the officers more friendly towards the people. He also improved other essential services like the fire department and improved other amenities like roads, parks and walking trails. He has also worked on improving business in the area and joined Cincinnati Mayor to reach out to China for the purpose amid its trade wars with the US.