I’m always amazed at how young “journalists” can write really stupid stuff and then hide behind the cloak of “satire” to defend themselves. That’s what happened this week, when the University of Colorado’s amateur student news site, CampusPress.com, ran a commentary by Max Karson titled “If it’s war the Asians want… it’s war they’ll get.”
It’s not very well written. It’s self indulgent in an immature, self-possessed manner. It’s confusingly filled with hate language and alarming statements for much of the column, then it veers into surrealism, and suddenly, if you weren’t sure whether it’s supposed to be a joke (I wasn’t), you start to realize it’s not serious. The problem is, so much of it sounds serious, and feels serious, and perpetuates racist stereotypes and statements about Asians that I’ve heard all my life. So why wouldn’t I take it seriously?
Karson writes about tensions between Asian and white students on campus. He shrugs them off at first as mismatches of cultural values. Then he comes around to the realization that Asians don’t like anyone else, and hell, he doesn’t like them either.
“I’m such a fool for not realizing it sooner,” Karson writes. “I can’t tell you how many times the Asians have treated me like a retarded weasel and I’ve forgiven them. But now I know that Asians are not just “a product of their environment,” and their rudeness is not a “cultural misunderstanding.
“They hate us all.
“And I say it’s time we started hating them back. That’s right-no more “tolerance.” No more “cultural sensitivity.” No more “Mr. Pretend-I’m-Not-Racist.”
“It’s time for war.
“But we won’t attack their bodies or minds. We will attack their souls.”
It shouldn’t have run. Sure, raise the First Amendment. Karson has the right to say dumb things. But a thinking editor or gatekeeper should have wondered about the appropriateness of the column on a taxpayer-funded state university news venue. The site’s staff sponsor, ironically, is Amy Herdy, a former colleague of mine at The Denver Post.
Read it for yourself and decide. But don’t come back with “aww, come on, can’t you take a joke?” First of all, this ain’t funny enough to be a joke. And second, nope, I can’t — not when it’s barely disguised hatred and ignorance glossed over with a glop of frat-boy lowbrow humor. I’m not going to allow my self-respect to be stomped on by half-baked attempt at humor barfed up by a poor thinker at a keyboard. Reading it, I felt my gut clench with the familiar wrench of angry bile, and my face flush with a mix of shame, embarrassment and outrage.
The article is supposed to be a companion piece to one titled “A few words on the Asiaphilic plague,” by an Asian American student journalist, Felix Im, but you know what? His piece is about how he grew up a banana and is now getting in touch with his Korean heritage. It’s not a “satire” taking cheap shots aimed at white people.
Joe Nguyen at AsiaXpress.com wrote a fine commentary. The APA community is up in arms. Erin and I will be emceeing the annual Mile Hi JACL/OCA Lunar New Year Banquet (Japanese American Citizens League and Organization of Chinese Americans) this weekend, and this will be undoubtedly be a hot hot topic. We’ll try to get these two organizations’ local chapters to make a forceful stand and do something about this.
The University of Colorado’s Chancellor tonight posted a statement on the school’s website about the column.
The fallout’s just starting to sprinkle. This should be interesting.
Here are other posts that covered the “War Against Asians” controversy: