Criminalized for the Concept of Beauty P4

Part 4: Criminalized for the concept of beauty.


This part maybe particularly interesting to those Asians/Chinese who fantasize about marrying into the Whites to gain memberships of the privileged class. Probably the biggest mistake I ever made in my case is that I, from my Chinese cultural perspective, believed that marriage means acceptance and respect of the spouse including her/his ethnic background, so that I trusted a White professor James Cahill of UC Berkeley, who married a Chinese woman and chose him as an “expert” for the academic dispute involved in my human rights case. But the outcome proves that an inter-racially married White person may not be free of racism, and even worse, may harbor even more racial bias and contempt on the Asian/Chinese than the ordinary American Whites, like this White professor Cahill who willfully took a part in the conspiracy to persecute me a Chinese student.

I wish that I had never worked in Royal Ontario Museum, because it was in there I learned about Cahill’s marriage to a Chinese woman when those Whites there made this old man marring a Chinese woman of 27 years’ his junior a laughing stock in my presence. My story is a wake up call to all Chinese/Asians: we have to rely on our own struggle to advance ourselves.

At the time, my term paper for Waterhouse’s course was also in dispute because I claimed that the grade (B) Waterhouse gave to my paper did not fairly reflect the academic merits of my paper, but was caused by Waterhouse’s retaliation and his prejudice that “poor Chinese still want to claim historical inventions.” According to the university’s policy, any such dispute shall be resolved by an “external rereading” by experts in the field, but the university was unable to reach an agreement with me, for I disagreed with the way the university proposed everything, believing the method would enable them to choose candidates not objective to me.

The OHRC then took over the re-evaluation of my paper on the terms of U of T’s policy, and asked me to designate two experts and university professors in Chinese art history to reread my paper.

I chose two professors, one was Professor Sullivan from the UK, and the other was James Cahill, in the Chinese Art History Department at the University of California, Berkeley. They both are renowned professors, and also, both were married to Chinese women, which I believed, would make them not racist. Professor Sullivan got married to a Chinese woman decades ago. At first, I had little hesitation on Cahill, since Cahill had only recently married his current wife, a student of his from mainland China, 27 years’ his junior, and since once in the class, Waterhouse told us that James Cahill, although famous, “not all his works were done by himself”, implying that his students should take the credit. Nevertheless, I thought even if that meant that his morals might be in issue, but one thing is certain that Cahill would not have some kind of personal connection with Waterhouse. Little did I know…

The Commission sent a clean copy of my term paper to these two experts along with the course evaluation criteria that Waterhouse pre-set for the course. It was made very clear to the experts that the re-reading must be independent, objective and confidential as the U of T’s external re-reading policy requires.

On November 22, 1994, Cahill called the OHRC officer in charge of my case, Alan Strojin, and commented that my paper was “Quit good”, as quoted by Strojin in his telephone message to me. When I called back, Strojin told me that although Cahill gave an oral evaluation of my paper as “Quite good”, he was reluctant to give a written grade as he was supposed to do, and said he would not get involved in an unknown situation, as he himself had problems with some of his Chinese students before as well. I was not surprised by that since Waterhouse already told us in class that Cahill exploited the intellectual products of his Chinese students to get his fame.

Cahill then inquired about the situation surrounding my paper at the OHRC. Strojin told me that he “briefly informed” Cahill about my human rights complaint against Waterhouse at the OHRC. This was in violation of the U of T’s re-reading confidential rule that for external re-reading of student works, the circumstances surrounding the paper can not be disclosed to the re-reader. Cahill then requested to get a copy of waterhouse’s article in dispute from the OHRC, and said it would be the most interesting thing that he would do at his retirement, (months after, he retired from the UC Berkeley.)


The OHRC decided to send Waterhouse’s article to Cahill, despite of my objection for reason of the University policy. I then requested that I make a written submission to be sent out together with Waterhouse’s article to describe my dispute with Waterhouse in the class on the concept of beauty. Although little alarmed about Cahill’s admitted problems with his Chinese students, I still trusted Cahill’s ethics as a scholar and his compassion for me because of his marriage formed bond to the Chinese. I also did not have other choices since Strojin told me that he had never heard back from the other expert Professor Sullivan of UK.


In April of 1995, Cahill faxed his written Opinion to Strojin, and then Strojin called me from Hamilton to tell me about it. When Strojin read it to me, I was totally shocked because Cahill’s oral assessment of my paper “Quit good” now became a low B grade, and at the first beginning of his opinion, Cahill himself already openly acknowledged the change and its cause that “At the beginning, when I thought it was simply a matter of assessing the paper and saying what I thought a fair grade would be, the matter seemed fairly straight forward. Of course the basic issue is still that. But some knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the paper and the grade certainly complicates the matter.” This is a confession of the change of his assessment – political consideration upon my human rights Complaint.


Cahill further deliberately disclosed in this Opinion that he had acquired even very detailed knowledge and supposedly confidential information on the disputes on my paper, clearly implying that behind my back, in violation of the university’s re-reading rules, he had already made intimate exchange of information with U of Toronto or even Waterhouse himself.


For example, Cahill himself clearly indicated in the Opinion his detailed knowledge about Waterhouse’s viewpoints on my paper: “from P’s viewpoint…”, (“P” denoted Waterhouse, “S” for the student, as Cahill made clear in the Opinion); “from the instructor’s point of view…”. Obviously there was an intimate exchange of information between the U of T and Cahill. And, not only was the grade B that he gave to my paper consistent with that of Waterhouse, so were his reasons for giving the grade – mainly for my “poor English”. This violated the University’s grading policy that evaluation of student works should be based on the assessment criteria pre-set for the course, but English fluency level was not required by the criteria pre-set by the course instructor Waterhouse.


At the same time, in his opinion Cahill also commented on Waterhouse’s article and my dispute with Waterhouse. In the face of Waterhouse’s own written admission to me at the end of our dispute on the concept of beauty “Here I have to agree with your findings”, Cahill found that I “misunderstood” Waterhouse’s theory because of my poor English, without giving any explanation as to how I actually misunderstood it; and contrary to what I misunderstood, what Waterhouse really meant in English when he described in his article that the concept of beauty is one “we can safely identify as a European concept”.


In finding that I misunderstood Waterhouse, Cahill could only give out the reason as that I “quotes P as saying things I can’t imagine he did, since they also don’t make sense”, although in fact, what I quoted is black and white in Waterhouse’s paper.


As if a well tailored design, on basically every issue that he concluded against me in his Opinion, Cahill would at the same time acknowledge that he was in fact fully aware of the truth contrary to his conclusion.


For instance, for my paper, while blaming my “poor English”, Cahill also says: “in spite of having attained an admirable degree of proficiency for a non-native user”; while blaming my citation problems etc., Cahill says “As for S’s paper: it is a very ambitious piece of work, with notable strengths; a good mind is clearly at work here. Good points are made, and valuable insights expressed.”


This was an admission of a deliberate wrong doing by Cahill that he did the wrong thing despite he actually knew it was contrary to the truth, and that he did it for a political/racial purpose. It appears that Cahill had close connections with the Chinese, but that doesn’t mean he treats the Chinese people as his equals. Using his Chinese students’ works to get ahead in the Chinese art history field, marrying a Chinese woman a 27 years’ of his junior, having 2 half Chinese blooded young twin kids…means not only nothing to him, but perhaps even giving him more contempt on the Chinese since he could so easily exploit the Chinese, using the power of his position and as a White man. When it comes to a conflict between the Chinese and the Whites that he identifies himself with, he can do anything to ambush the Chinese, perhaps even including his own Chinese spouse. Yet I made a mistake to assume from my Chinese cultural perspective that a marriage is based on at least the respect to the ethnic background of one’s own spouse.


Further, this admission by Cahill was to serve a purpose – to provoke my rage using such flagrant disregard of any decency as a scholar and such blatant racism, in order to set me up for criminal prosecution. As the evidence shows that, Cahill, U of T and the OHRC had already planned the outcome of this re-reading and dismissal of my case together, and particularly prepared for my devastated reaction together, for they already knew I had already been very devastated and might get emotional.


16 days before Cahill’s opinion was completed, the lawyer for U of T Margot Blight wrote a letter to OHRC, in expecting the devastating shock that I could feel, asked the Commission to take precaution to give U of T advanced notice before the release of Cahill’s Opinion, for Liao “might react negatively to the release of your report and/or the release of her mark for the course”, and she “urged Alan STROJIN to take steps to have a physician available when the final result is made to her”.


Indeed, their plan worked. When I was informed by the OHRC officer Strojin over the phone about Cahill’s opinion and that this Opinion would “stand at the Commission” so that my case would be dismissed, I was overwhelmed with rage and disbelief, so that I began to panic and cry. When Strojin asked me at this point “what are you going to do now?” I burst out: “If they are going to kill me, I’m going to kill them too…”.


One hour later after this conversation, I called back Strojin to apologize for my emotional break down, and claimed that I would have to challenge Cahill’s Opinion as it was apparently biased. Strojin encouraged me, suggesting I could use the fact that Cahill had problems with his own Chinese students. Following that I made further move to send Strojin faxed letter, and made phone calls to assert my objection to Cahill’s Opinion on the grounds that it was apparently biased.


I received no response from OHRC to my objection. The only thing happened to me next was that I was arrested by the police for Uttering Death Threats against Waterhouse on May 10th, since Strojin behind my back informed the U of T on April 26 that I had made death threats to Waterhouse. Immediately at my arrest, a bail condition was imposed on me that I “can not initiate any contact with any member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission”.


Since the alleged target of my threats was not any one of the Commission, and since I had made similar angry expressions previously to Strojin but never got even a warning, this bail condition and the criminal prosecution itself clearly had an immediate political purpose: to forbid me to pursue my challenge to Cahill’s Opinion at the OHRC and to insist that the OHRC obtain the other expert’s opinion, so that the conspirators can assure the standing of Cahill’s Opinion at the OHRC.


My pursuit of my human rights case at OHRC was successfully cut off by this prosecution, so that the OHRC never needed to respond to the problem that I raised for Cahill’s Opinion, and to obtain the other expert’s opinion as the all parties agreed re-reading condition required. The OHRC then conveniently dismissed my complaint based on Cahill’s Opinion in 1997.

The “Expert Opinion” by James Cahill, Chinese art history professor, University of California


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