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One of the most frequently quoted anti-Wal-Mart residents is Christilily Chiv, a 2011 graduate of the University of California-Riverside, who majored in Asian Studies and now works with the leftist group Public Allies Los Angeles. “She believes in viewing the world through critical lenses and to not take everything for just the way it is,” her Public Allies bio explains. That is, unless it is Wal-Mart. That’s when the critical thinking seems to end.
The strongest remarks against Wal-Mart have come from Chu, the member of Congress who has long opposed the discount giant. In 2004, while she was in the State Assembly, Chu put up a fight against a Wal-Mart in Rosemead.
At the time, Chu decried Wal-Mart’s “bad reputation” and claimed that local Asian-Americans and endangered small businesses were united against the retailer.
The Wal-Mart ended up opening despite Chu’s efforts. The result?
“Wal-Mart helped generate $148.7 million in Rosemead citywide taxable retail sales in 2007, a $21,000 increase in such sales from the year before the store opened,” Rosemead Mayor Steven Ly wrote recently in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “Rosemead saw an increase of 9.4% in new retail permits [near Wal-Mart].” In addition, the company has been generous to Rosemead’s charities, giving more than $52,000 in 2011 to the local Boy Scouts, the town’s Regional Food Bank, the American Diabetes chapter, Rosemead High School, and the Rosemead Kiwanis Foundation.
And what about Mrs. Hu? She has strong words for the people “pretending to speak for Chinatown.” Sitting up straight in her chair at the mention of local Chinese-American politicians, she said: “Judy Chu and Mike Eng don’t live like we do. They don’t know what it’s like to live here, and they don’t speak for me.”
Charles C. Johnson is a writer in Los Angeles and author of a forthcoming biography of Calvin Coolidge.