East Asia Panel

"Americans were not as special, were not as benevolent, were not as pure as we were brought up to believe in our relations with the outside world," James Thomson Jr. curator of the Neiman Fellowships, told an audience of 50 last night.

Thomson co-author of "The Sentimental Imperialists," discussed the book, which focuses on American involvement in East Asia, in an Institute of Politics (IOP) panel.

He argued that racism, a "total enduring mutual ignorance of each other's culture," and "a desire to do good" has characterized American-East Asian relations over the last 200 years.

In their critiques of the book other panelists said they felt its treatment of China and Japan was fair.

"We seldom hear of Christians killing heathens," Yao Wei, a fellow at the IOP, said, adding that the book includes examples of American abuse of the Chinese.

Benigno Aquino, a fellow at the Center for International Affairs, said the chapters on the Phillipines were a "great disappointment."

"If America knew what happened in the Phillipines at the turn of the century, maybe Vietnam would not have happened," Aquino said, and added that Peter W. Stanley, the primary author of the Phillipines chapters should have used recently declassified documents to show past American abuses.