Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2000
Source: Record, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Record
Contact:  P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201
Fax: (209) 547-8186
Author: Louie R. Lee


The stock market tells us something about people.

The much-heralded volatility on Wall Street reminds us of another paradigm: 
the greater fool theory.

There is always a greater fool to make a very bad investment. The greatest 
fool is the one who hears only what he wants to hear. That is what we do 
when we expurgate history to accommodate our comfort zone.

That is what San Joaquin County supervisors find palatable when they choose 
to expurgate the coolie caricature from the courthouse mural.

It would be better to consign the mural and all related lithos to the 
Haggin Museum. I am reminded of the furor that Diego Rivera's work elicited 
at Rockefeller Center. Dario Marenco's notion as what is proper for public 
places smacks of the distaste that Maplethorpe's photos brought to 
Cincinnati. The greater obscenity comes from the number of drug-related 
cases that fill the halls of the courthouse. Part of the legacy of 19th 
century Chinese in California comes from our approach to the 
criminalization of drug use. The series "Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They 
Got That Way"on the History Channel made a point that relates directly to 
our local desire to expunge and forget: the first law to specifically ban 
drug use was enacted to allay public fears that Chinese were using opium to 
take advantage of women.

The Opium Wars forced Indian opium onto the Chinese populace as part of 
England's solution to its trade-imbalance problems with China, and 
culminated in the Boxer Rebellion. Our drug laws and the policies that 
followed have not shown greater insight or success.

Our courthouse can attest to that. We should tackle a bigger mural in the 
halls and in our own backyards. That mural is our failed drug policies, 
which have destabilized our hemisphere and created a captive market 
enriched by enormous profit and misplaced resources. We should cease being 
the greater fool.

Louie R. Lee, Stockton
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