Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath: Supporting the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Community

Statement by Chargé d’Affaires Michael Heath:

Supporting the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Community

As a descendant of Japanese-American relatives who were sent to internment camps during World War II, I am painfully aware of the impact of discrimination against Asian-Americans. The hate and harassment we’ve seen targeting Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have no place in the United States, and like President Biden, I condemn the brutal murders committed in Atlanta last week.

I would also like our friends, partners, and allies here in Thailand to remember that Asian-Americans are not just victims; we are those leading the charge for justice and change – at home and abroad. We are athletes, scientists, teachers, engineers, artists, and diplomats. The United States provides tremendous opportunities to all its citizens, including people of Asian descent and other people of color. These opportunities were the reason my grandparents emigrated to the United States during the 1930s. Several of my relatives fought for the U.S. armed forces during World War II because they believed in the cause of freedom and the rights of the individual. After the war ended, they went on to become successful in a number of fields. One of my uncles became the first Asian-American college president in the United States. My home district’s current representative to the U.S. Congress is Japanese-American, and the U.S. Senate just confirmed our first Asian-American to serve as U.S. Trade Representative. It is well-known here that a Thai-American, Tammy Duckworth, already a decorated veteran, has risen to become a U.S. Senator.

Asian-Americans have achieved so much not only because of the United States’ commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but because we are not afraid to shine a light on our flaws. We do not try to erase harmful events from our history books. I’d like to quote from Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s eloquent remarks this past week in Alaska: “A hallmark of U.S. leadership at home is a constant quest to form a more perfect union, and that quest by definition acknowledges our imperfections and acknowledges that we’re not perfect. We make mistakes, but what we’ve done throughout our history is to confront those challenges — openly, publicly, transparently — not trying to ignore them, not trying to pretend they don’t exist. Each and every time we’ve come out stronger, better, more united, as a country.”

Secretary Blinken’s words exhort Americans to do more to stamp out injustice and ignorance wherever they may appear. They will guide us as we confront these challenges at home as well as abroad.