Revisionist history under the guise of the First Amendment

Angry Asian Man has linked to an opinion piece by an editor at the University of Colorado campus newspaper. Titled “If it’s war the Asians want, it’s war they’ll get,” the piece is a dehumanizing piece of garbage that falls under the category of post-denial hipster racism™. AAM also links to the statement by the chancellor:

On behalf of the University of Colorado at Boulder, I want to apologize to the members of Colorado’s Asian and Asian-American communities for a satirical column written by a student columnist at the CU Campus Press … The column was a poor attempt at social satire laden with offensive references, stereotypes and hateful language. It was not properly labeled as either satire or commentary, and readers were left with the impression that the author spoke for the collective staff and leadership of the Campus Press, and perhaps even the University of Colorado …

… let me reiterate the support of the CU-Boulder campus, our collective campus community, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for our Asian and Asian-American students, and for all students of color from all walks of life. Let me also reaffirm my commitment to building a campus that embraces diversity in all its forms, and that also promotes free speech, open debate and discussion of issues and ideas, and that will not trade one to achieve the other.

I tend to think that the chancellor should apologize to all members of the community rather than just the “members of Colorado’s Asian and Asian-American communities.” [BY THE WAY, THERE IS NO HYPHEN.] Because racism is harmful to everybody, and not just its victims. This kind of crap feeds white superiority and dehumanization–because we all lose a little bit of our humanity when racism is allowed, sanctioned, reinforced and recreated.

Additionally, emphasizing the support of the campus and the school for “our Asian and Asian-American students, and for all students of color” [NO HYPHEN] suggests not that the students of color are an integral part of the community, but rather that they are “allowed” onto campus through white benevolence. Which unfortunately has some truth to it.

The chancellor also needs to apologize for Amy Herdy, the current adviser of the Campus Press, as well as for the deletion of comments under Karson’s article. (Hey, whatever happened to free speech and open debate?) Here’s Herdy’s response to a poster, Steph, who expresses disgust with this “opinion” piece:

You are certainly entitled to your opinion–that’s not why I am replying to you. I’m replying because I disagree strongly with this portion of your comment:

“…doesn’t mean you’re allowed to make these statements.”

Yes, he is–he is “allowed” under the First Amendment. I realize as a budding journaliast you may not have much experience realizing the full implications of it, but that is why the First Amendment exists.

So you may certainly agree or disagree with Mr. Karson. And you may certainly voice that opinion.

But please think twice before you make statements that can be construed as stifling speech.

I have 20 years of exerience as a journalist, and a body of work that I am very proud of. Yet I can honestly say that I am most proud to work with the journalists here at Campus Press–every single one.

They may not always agree with each other, but the ensuing discussions are a healthy vetting of journalistic debate, not a lobby of anonymous scathing remarks.

Amy Herdy

Got that? Patronage (“as a budding journaliast [sic] you may not have much experience,” “you may certainly voice that opinion” and “I have 20 years of exerience [sic]”) and an absolutist presentation of the First Amendment all in one packet. “Stifling speech”? Who’s attempting to stifle speech? Sounds like Herdy is trying to make Steph shut up, not the other way around.

In any event, the First Amendment refers to the right of people to speak without gubbermint interference. But you notice how both the chancellor and Herdy invoke free speech/the First Amendment as being privileged over addressing racism. Conveniently ignoring (or perhaps completely ignorant of) the fact that all speech is not protected speech.

I was poking around on the website and read a few of the articles, and my opinion is that maybe the author of the “If it’s war the Asians want” piece does speak “for the collective staff and leadership of the Campus Press, and perhaps even the University of Colorado.”

Because here’s a piece of regurgitated drivel from the day before, entitled “No hablo ingles: Try speaking English, this is the United States” by Lauren Geary:

How many times have you walked into McDonald’s and not been able to order easily, or at all, because the person taking your order can’t understand English? Perhaps I’m the only one absolutely frustrated by the fact that we have Mexican grocery stores. And you know, I also think you shouldn’t be able to hold a driver’s license if you need a translator for the test. That thought makes me scared to get on the road. All the street signs are in English, and I know what you’re thinking: we should resign them in Spanish, too. No, we shouldn’t! Just like we shouldn’t allow our government to spend millions of dollars on re-signing all the metro stops in D.C. in English and Spanish. I’m also irritated by the fact that more money was put into ESL classes than art classes. Why are we accommodating?

The United States was once called the melting pot. My great grandparents immigrated here from all parts of the world including Ireland, Hungary and Poland. When they did arrive in the United States, their parents forbid them from speaking their native language. They wanted their children to succeed in the new land of opportunity, and speaking English was part of the transition. What happened to this idea?

The writer is quick to add the following:

I grew up in the metropolitan suburbs of Washington, D.C., surrounded by politics and a multitude of ethnicities. Sure, there are your average brilliant Asians, successful blacks, and of course, millions of Hispanics flooding our area. Please don’t consider me a racist–I am nowhere near that.

And honestly, my problem is not really with the people themselves.

I am not a racist! Check!

I also have serious misgivings about the journalism school if this sort of drek (both Karson’s and Geary’s pieces) substitutes for opinion. (Herdy said she was proud of all of them, remember?) Needless to say, the writing sucks and lacks the type of intellectual analysis that is the hallmark of good opinion writing. Karson did little more than vomit a bunch of insipid thoughts into the computer. But Geary should have done at least a little homework before spewing, because Latino immigrants tend to “assimilate” language-wise at the same rate of other immigrants–that is, the first generation speaks limited English, the second generation speaks the ancestral language but predominantly English and the third-generation sadly becomes monolingual.

Geary’s great-grandparents were immigrants, so I don’t imagine she had much time to observe their hardships or listen to stories about the discrimination they suffered. She probably never saw people whom she loved treated as inferiors. People who were educated, smart and quick-witted being treated like sh*t just because they had a heavy accent or weren’t entirely fluent in English.

And she probably doesn’t have any association with current Polish immigrants, or she would know that they have many of the same struggles now. Does she rail against Polish-language resources? What about those Polish grocery stores?

If you ever want a lesson in humility, work in the immigrant communities. You’ll find the people taking ESL classes (who also work two full-time jobs) were doctors and physicists in their home countries. You’ll find the guy at the dry cleaners was an engineer. You’ll find that the person cleaning the toilet at your office has more education than you do. But there’s a limited number of hours in the day and it’s hard to learn English when you’re busy pushing that broom.

I feel sorry for Geary and those of her ilk. Apparently she doesn’t feel loss of language to be a loss as I do, and she doesn’t feel the overwhelming pleasure at being able to communicate in another language. Because language opens up the world.


Ironically, these articles were running at the same time as the Diversity Summit!

And finally, as a digression thrown in for free, does Max Karson ever envision that he might need a job someday?

12 thoughts on “Revisionist history under the guise of the First Amendment

  1. Max is from the PT Barnum school of PR. He wants to write a book someday and figures the more press he gets the better. No matter if it’s good or bad as long as they spell his name correctly (that’s Karson with a K)

  2. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be American-Journalists….

    A teachable moment allowed to run amock, snuffed out by the defensive pride of an experienced journalist; this rhetorical spewing is no more sophisticated than any I’ve heard from educationally deprived Retail-Workers.

  3. I can’t believe how much I read/hear the EXACT same pathetic racist drivel spewed over and over again while the people who spew it think they’re so original and “gee whiz, no one’s ever thought of THIS before!” Ugh.

    I also fail to see why the existence of Mexican grocery stores is “absolutely frustrating.” What exactly are they preventing this woman from doing??

    The other comment which offended me and which further proves which particular segment of the POC population she really dislikes is the reference to “brilliant Asians” and “successful Blacks” while Hispanics are relegated to “millions flooding our streets” and setting up those BLASTED GROCERY STORES WHICH ARE SO FRUSTRATING. How dare they?!

  4. Not to pick on you, Sue, but isn’t what you said about the “educational deprived Retail-workers” kind of classist? Why not just say ignorant people?

    I guess the article’s author would prefer that Hispanics not set up their own businesses like grocery stores and instead be on welfare.

  5. Good point panracial. I could have phrased it better.

    I meant to point out that I’d expect more from journalism majors and especially their mentors.

    The racist statements coming from my retail coworkers actually were ignorant, but not necessarily because they were poor. In fact, not all of them are poor, or even educationally deprived, so I can see how classist that sounded. My apologies.

  6. I am surprised that the college hasn’t requested a mental health evaluation for Max.
    He’s been in trouble for his writings before, and his you/tube video is just more violence promotion. I don’t find his writings funny or satirical on any level. He’s scary.
    The poorly written apology is one more reason for education reform. Sounds like just another teacher with a lack of comprehension skills.

  7. This post calls this egregious yellow journalism “hipster racism.” Despite being a college student, I don’t know what a hipster is — I’m sheltered, I know:) I’ve googled it, but still don’t realy get it. Could someone please explain? Thanks.

  8. I am a graduate student of journalism at CU Boulder (one of the only minority students) and I am concerned and dismayed that the slanted (and inelegantly) written editorials, in addition to amy herdy’s defense of them, is ruining the program’s credibility. please know that for every amy herdy, there are four times as many angry professors (with more than “twenty years” experience) who don’t believe that hate speech falls under the our first amendment rights. what a couple of idiots. and amy herdy: i will never take a class with you.

  9. Pingback: …Shall Make No Law… » Blog Archive » Editors of online student publication sent to diversity training after posting of “hateful” anti-Asian column

  10. I read Sue’s comment to reference how often edumacated folks believe that they can’t possibly be racist. Unfortunately I think a lot of us buy into that idea. Also how most people tend to believe that only “lower class” people are racist.

    Post-denial hipster racism™ refers to open racism perpetrated by people who think that by acknowledging that something is in fact racist, they have license to spew. You know, people who think they are “edgy” and “pushing the envelope.”

    cu student, I’m curious about what actions the other students and professors at the school of journalism are taking?

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