- Yellow Peril
Yellow Peril (sometimes Yellow Terror) was a color metaphor for race that originated in the late nineteenth century with
immigrationof Chinese laborers to various Western countries, notably the United States, and later associated with the Japanese during the mid 20th century, due to Japanese military expansion. The term refers to the skin colorof East Asians, and the belief that the mass immigration of Asians threatened white wages and standards of living.
Many sources credit
Kaiser Wilhelm IIwith coining the phrase "Yellow Peril" (German: "gelbe Gefahr") in September 1895.
In 1898, British writer
M. P. Shielpublished a short story serial titled "The Yellow Danger". Shiel took advantage of the murder of two German missionaries in Kiau-Tschou in 1897 to spread his anti-Chinese feelings.Fact|date=February 2007 In later editions the serial was named "The Yellow Peril".
The phrase "yellow peril" was common in the U.S.
newspapersowned by William Randolph Hearst. It was also the title of a popular book by an influential U.S. religious figure, G.G. Rupert, who published "The Yellow Peril; or, Orient vs. Occident" in 1911. Based on the phrase "the kings from the East" in the Christian scriptural verse Revelation 16:12, [cite web|url=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=revelation%2016:12-16:12&version=50|title=Revelation 16:12 (New King James Version)|publisher=BibleGateway.com|accessdate=2007-11-05] Rupert, who believed in the doctrine of British Israelism, claimed that China, India, Japan and Korea were attacking England and the U.S., but that Jesus Christwould stop them.cite web|url=http://boas.wordpress.com/2006/08/19/nyus-archivist-of-the-yellow-peril-exhibit/|title=NYU’s "Archivist of the Yellow Peril" Exhibit|publisher=Boas Blog|date= 2006-08-19|accessdate=2007-11-05]
While immigration of Asians was not a major issue in Europe, the rise of Japan as a major world power was a cause of anxiety for some Europeans.
The notion of "yellow peril" manifested itself in government policy with the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which reduced Chinese immigration from 30,000 per year to just 105. [ Gabriel J. Chin, "Segregation's Last Stronghold: Race Discrimination and the Constitutional Law of Immigration," [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1121119 46 UCLA Law Review 1 (1998)] (discussing racial motivations for Asian Exclusion Laws)] Exclusion was ultimately extended to all non-citizens of Asian racial background. [Gabriel J. Chin, "The Civil Rights Revolution Comes to Immigration Law: A New Look at the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965," [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1121504 75 North Carolina Law Review 273(1996)] ] The labor leader
Samuel Gompersargued: "The superior whites had to exclude the inferior Asiatics, by law, or, if necessary, by force of arms."
In 1920, the author
Lothrop Stoddardwrote The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacyarguing against Asian immigration, claiming immigrants threatened American society, with their presence a "peril." Lynchingof Asian immigrants by vigilantegroups were common in the early 1900s, paralleling the activities of the Ku Klux Klanand related groups in the South against African Americans. Californiaacademics such as David Starr Jordanand politicians such as James D. Phelan(who ran for mayor of San Franciscoand United States Senateon the platform of "Keeping California White") were firm believers in the "yellow peril", and the politics of Washington highlighted "yellow peril". The fear of the yellow peril reached its peak during World War IIafter the Japanese navy's attack on Pearl Harbor. The Yellow Peril as the primary form of West Coast racismand as a factor in politics seemed to die out in the mid-20th century, perhaps due to guilt over the Japanese American internmentduring World War II, stigmatization of racism in general as the Naziideology, or Cold Wargeopolitical alignments which cut across racial lines. Also, on returning from internment, Japanese Americans largely abandoned the West Coast agricultural areas where rural whites had resented them as competitors, for the urban areas which became larger and more cosmopolitan during the war and its aftermath.
In the 1930s and 40s, the term "Yellow Peril" referred to Japanese military expansion.Fact|date=August 2008
N3N, a biplane used to train carrier pilots at the start of World War IIwas nicknamed the "Yellow Peril" in part because of a brightly colored paint job intended to alert everyone around that a novice pilot was flying it; and in part because the plane itself had poorly designed landing gear which gave it a tendency to "ground loop," that is, destabilize and cartwheel on landing. At the conclusion of World War II, the remaining stock of N3N's were transferred from active service to the Naval Academy, where they remained in service until 1960. [cite web|url=http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/NAF_N3N.htm Naval|title=Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3|publisher=National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution|accessdate=2007-07-19]
In the 1980s the Yellow Peril concept was revived as the U.S. was in intense competition with Japan over industrial supremacy. The beating death of Chinese-American
Vincent Chinin 1982 outside Detroit by U.S. auto workers was a hate crime motivated by fear of Asian economic competition.
The Yellow Peril is a major topic of study in
Asian American studies.
The White Australia policy is a generic term used to describe a collection of historical legislation and policies, intended to restrict non-white immigration to Australia, and to promote Western European immigration, from 1901 to 1973. However, the Policy started unravelling some decades earlier than this, with reforms starting in the 1940s that encouraged non-British and non-white immigration. From 1973 onwards, the White Australia policy was legally defunct, and in 1975 the Australian Government passed the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act which made racially-based selection criteria illegal. Despite the abolition, the legacy of the purpose of
White Australia Policycontinues to this day in Australia in various forms.
The "yellow peril" was a significant part of the policy platform promoted by
Richard Seddon, a populist New Zealand prime minister, in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Measures designed to curb Chinese immigration included a substantial poll taxfollowing Imperial Japan's invasion and occupation of China, which was abolished in 1944 and for which the New Zealand government has since issued a formal apology.
Yellow Peril in fiction
Fu Manchu characters
The Yellow Peril was a common theme in the fiction of the time. Perhaps most representative of this is
Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchunovels. The Fu Manchu character is believed to have been patterned on the antagonist of the 1898 "Yellow Peril" series by British writer M. P. Shiel. "(See above; see also M.P. Shiel).
In the late 1950s, Atlas Comics debuted the
Yellow Claw, a Fu Manchu pastiche. However, a growing realization of the racist nature of the character archetype led toFact|date=February 2007 the villain having a handsome young Asian FBIagent, James Woo, being his principal opponent. Other characters inspired by Rohmer's Fu Manchu include Pao Tcheou.
A 1977 "
Doctor Who" serial, " The Talons of Weng-Chiang", builds a science fiction plot upon another loose Fu Manchu pastiche. In this case, the key "yellow devil" character serves to enable an ill-intentioned time traveller from the fifty-first century.
"Yellow Peril: The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe", by Richard Jaccoma (1978) is both a pastiche and a benign parody of the
Sax Rohmernovels. [cite book|author=Richard Jaccoma|title="Yellow Peril": The Adventures of Sir John Weymouth-Smythe : a Novel|publisher=Richard Marek Publishers|year=1978|isbn=0399900071] As the title suggests, it's a distillation of the trope, focusing on the psychosexual stereotype of the seductive Asian woman as well that of the ruthless Mongol conqueror that underlies much of supposed threat to Western civilization. Written for a sophisticated modern audience, it uses the traditional use of first-person narrative to portray the nominal hero Sir John Weymouth-Smythe as simultaneously a lecher and a prude, torn between his desires and Victorian sensibilities but unable to acknowledge, much less resolve, his conflicted impulses. The cover blurbs for the paperback edition declaim "Erotic adventure in the style of the original 'pulps'" and "'A Porno-Fairytale-Occult-Thriller!' — Village Voice." It is clearly in the same line as the contemporaneous works of Philip José Farmer, "updating" Rohmer the way Farmer updated Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dentand Walter B. Gibson.
The "Yellow Peril" was a frequent theme of pulp fiction in the early twentieth century. The Swedish author
Sven Lindqvisthas pointed out that several science fictionnovels from the time depicting cataclysmic clashes of civilizations take particular relish in describing the ultimate defeat of the Chinese, as compared to Africans or communists. Jack London's 1914 story "The Unparalleled Invasion", taking place in a fictional 1975, described a Chinawith an ever-increasing population taking over and colonising its neighbors, with the intention of eventually taking over the entire Earth. Thereupon the nations of the West open biological warfareand bombard China with dozens of the most infectious diseases - among them smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, and Black Death— with all Chinese attempting to flee being shot down by armies and navies massed around their country's land and sea borders, and the few survivors of the plague invariably put to death by "mopping up" expeditions entering China.
genocide, described in considerable detail, is throughout the book described as justified and "the only possible solution to the Chinese problem", and nowhere is there mentioned any objection to it. The terms "Yellow Race", "Yellow crowds in streets", "yellow faces" and the like are frequently repeated throughout the story. It ends with the edifying spectacle of "The Sanitation of China" and its re-settlement by Western settlers, "the democratic American programme" as London puts it. [cite web|url=http://london.sonoma.edu/Writings/StrengthStrong/invasion.html|title=THE UNPARALLELED INVASION|publisher=The Jack London Online Collection|accessdate=2007-11-05] Philip Francis Nowlan's novella" Armageddon 2419 A.D.", which first appeared in the August 1928 and was the start of the long-lasting popular Buck Rogersseries, depicted a future America which had been occupied and colonised by cruel invaders from China, which the hero and his friends proceed to fight and kill wholesale. Robert A. Heinlein's novel " Sixth Column" depicts American resistance to an invasion by a blatantly racist and genocidally cruel "PanAsian" empire. H. P. Lovecraftwas in constant fear of Asiatic culture engulfing the worldFact|date=February 2007, and a few of his stories reflect this, such as "The Horror At Red Hook", where "slant-eyed immigrants practice nameless rites in honor of heathen gods by the light of the moon", and "He", where the protagonist is given a glimpse of the future - the "yellow men" have conquered the world, and now dance to their drums over the ruins of the white man.
"Yellow Peril" is a book by
Wang Lixiong, written under the pseudonym Bao Mi, about a civil warin the People's Republic of Chinathat becomes a nuclear exchange and soon engulfs the world, causing World War III. It's notable for Wang Lixiong's politics, as a Chinese dissident and outspoken activist; its publication following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989; and its popularity due to bootleg distribution across China even when the book was banned by the Communist Party of China. [cite web|url=http://www.freemedia.at/cms/ipi/freedom_detail.html?country=/KW0001/KW0005/KW0114/&year=1999|title=1999 World Press Freedom Review|publisher=IPI International Press Institute|accessdate=2007-11-05]
The Yellow Peril is the nickname of
Vault (sculpture), a controversial public art sculpture by Ron Robertson-Swann, in Melbourne, Australia.
A Separate Peace" by John Knowles, Phineas and Gene decide that Brinker is Madame Chiang Kai-shek, and is therefore Chinese. They nickname him Yellow Peril.
Yellow Peril, Collection of British Novels 1895-1913, in 7 vols., edited by Yorimitsu Hashimoto, Tokyo: Edition Synapse. ISBN 978-4-86166-031-3
Yellow Peril, Collection of Historical Sources, in 5 vols., edited by Yorimitsu Hashimoto, Tokyo: Edition Synapse. ISBN 978-4-86166-033-7
Attila the Hun
Chinese Massacre of 1871
Turban Tide and Hindoo Invasion
* Racial equality proposal, 1919
White Australia policy
One Australia policy
* [http://boas.wordpress.com/2006/08/19/nyus-archivist-of-the-yellow-peril-exhibit/ Yellow Peril Exhibit] at
NYU, including illustration of 1911 book of that title.
* [http://www.violetbooks.com/yellowperil.html Yellow Peril in pulp fiction]
* [http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027j/yellow_promise_yellow_peril/yp_core_04.html Foreign Postcards of the Russo-Japanese War]
* [http://london.sonoma.edu/Writings/StrengthStrong/invasion.html "The Unparalleled Invasion"] by Jack London, climaxing in total genocide of the Chinese
* [http://clioweb.org/openseason/ Open Season: Anti-Japanese Propaganda during World War II]
*Yellow Peril, Collection of British Novels 1895-1913 www.aplink.co.jp/synapse/4-86166-031-9.html
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