The best and the brightest

What do you call a Korean American with a dual M.D./Ph.D. and an impressive resume?

Answer:  A [racial slur omitted].

So Jim Yong Kim was named president of Dartmouth.  How did the Dartmouth community welcome him?  Why, they sent out a mass e-mail using a racial slur, the switched R/L thing, the poke-fun-at-the-name thing, references to Chinese restaurants, Charlie Chan and the Dragon Queen and suggestions that Kim is not a real American. From Angry Asian Man:

>Date: March 3, 2009 11:06:39 AM EST
To: GOOD-MORNING@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU
Subject: Good Morning

This is the Generic Good Morning Message for March 3, 2009.

Yesterday came the announcement that President of the College James Wright will be replaced by Chinaman Kim Jim Yong. And a little bit of me died inside.

It was a complete supplies.

On July 1, yet another hard-working American’s job will be taken by an immigrant willing to work in substandard conditions at near-subsistent wage, saving half his money and sending the rest home to his village in the form of traveler’s checks. Unless “Jim Yong Kim” means “I love Freedom” in Chinese, I don’t want anything to do with him. Dartmouth is America, not Panda Garden Rice Village Restaurant.

Y’all get ready for an Asianification under the guise of diversity under the actual Malaysian-invasion leadership instituted under the guise of diversity. It’s a slippery slope we are on. I for one want Democracy and apple pie, not Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. I know I sure as shit won’t ever be eating my Hop dubs bubs with chopsticks. I like to use my own two American hands.

I bet you can guess the response, because I did. Satire! Poor attempt at humor! No intention to offend!

Yet again we see a demonstration of white people’s inability to think critically.

“We cannot stress enough the intention behind this message was not malicious,” Courtney Davis ‘09, a member of the GGMM staff, said in an e-mail to the listserv. “The writer is full of regret; did not intend to offend anyone, and has committed to meeting with others, from diverse backgrounds, to learn as many lessons as possible from this experience. Although the GGMM is a listserv administered by six students and is not affiliated with the College in any way, we recognize the impact that this unfortunate incident has had on the community.”

Source.

So at least two members of the GGMM staff thought this was an appropriate thing to send out.  First, the idiot who wrote it.  Second, the idiot who approved it and sent it through to the listserv.

Notice again the emphasis on intention, which is very important to white people.  They just can’t stress enough that the intention was not malicious. The writer did not intend to offend any one.   Everybody, be on alert!  You need to understand the feelings of the racists!  You need to understand that they did not mean anything by this and that it was completely unintentional that they typed a plethora of racial slurs and stereotypes and insults and sent it as a mass e-mail.

Note also that the GGMM has not named the writer.  So if this isn’t really such a big deal, why isn’t s/he standing up and taking credit for this satire?

In addition, this incident is a good example of how racist incidents encourage and embolden other racists.  Clearly there are more than just three racists at Dartmouth.  From the posts at the Dartmouth Review:

Just when you thought this hilariously over-blown situation was about to resolve itself, the institutional activists (OPAL interns) snapped into action with an emergency meeting with campus power brokers Molly Bode, Sylvia Spears (of OPAL), and the Inter-Community Council. The outcome of this meeting was the drafting of a list of (non-binding) “punishments” for the author of the original satire:

Got that? Hilariously over-blown.

The following blitz was sent by “AfriCaSo” this afternoon, purportedly in response to an offensive blitz (reproduced below) which was sent out yesterday regarding Jim Yong Kim’s appointment. Dartlog also urges its readers to remain calm in the face of this admittedly sophomoric missive–only the specially-trained first responders at OPAL are qualified to deal with this calamity, which in our estimation scores somewhere between the Rape of Nanking and Japanese internment on the Richter Scale of injustice.

What the fuck.

So you can see that as in the Miley Cyrus incident, this isn’t just about the racist action of one person. It’s about a racist system that encourages and furthers racism. It’s about institutional racism and a culture of racism that leads people to believe that this is perfectly acceptable.

Because you know, it’s just a joke. Dr. Kim may be highly respected in some circles. But in others, he’s obviously just a [racial slur omitted].

22 thoughts on “The best and the brightest

  1. Wow. I am…..wow. I mean, people defending “a teenage joke” a la M. Cyrus is bad enough – but now to have supposedly intellegent, educated people defended for being so CLEARLY and without question racist??? It’s beyond disgusting.

  2. Holy shit. As if “satire” really was the original intent. As if intent even matters (your evisceration of that standby defense is marvelous).

    Words fail.

  3. One thing I don’t understand at all is why one would attempt to explain these really incredible insults.

    If I think about myself making a mistake because I was completely unaware, as the idiots that did this could NOT have been, I would simply take responsibility and shut the hell up.

    I guess I don’t see how you can redeem such a thing other than a very thin hope of forgiveness many years hence.

  4. I’m curious, what was their intent? How is this ‘hilariously overblown’ in any way? Exactly how should racism be handled on a campus in the US?

  5. Oh, I don’t know…I found myself laughing out loud while reading the excerpt from the email. Pretty funny stuff. My cousins and I are half Thai. Should I be offended? [WHIB #14, 18]

  6. I think intent should matter. But there are examples (such at this) when either the person who wrote it did have malicious intent (it sure seems like it) or they are too dumb to be believed.

  7. it certainly seems to be an angry diatribe about Asians. I could stretch to see all kinds of other things as at least skating on the edge of satire and racist, but this just seemed like a full-blown racist tirade that got too widely publicized. I can’t see signs of anything other than malicious intent.

    Awful.

  8. Isn’t that the way of the bully. Say something mean and racist, and then say, “Oh, I was just joking.” This is a form of abuse. It’s kind of like the “Barack the Magic Negro” song. If you even have to explain to someone why that (or this) is offensive, then there is no point in trying.

  9. OK, I am not from the US, so I apologize in advance, but I am in complete disagreement with most of you. If you look up Ivy League and Dartmouth, you can see the stereotypes of these students Ivy League = “The term also has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.” Now what that means is that stereotypically these school have had White Privileged and in Dartmouth’s case predominantly male populations. Now let’s consider satire – “In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, ideally with the intent to bring about improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour in itself so much as an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves, using the weapon of wit.”
    So is this satire? well The way I read the initial e-mail is that the student is attempting to satirize the age-old stereotype of Dartmouth, and in fact to shame racists, (you know real ones that aren’t posting campus). What he got instead is a severe reaction back from everyone, whether it be honestly offended members of the Asian community or even people that were afraid to seem insensitive.
    Was it good satire? well clearly not, as the desired effect to shame racists was not achieved.
    And as a side note, to the author of this article, when you make statements like ” Yet again we see a demonstration of white people’s inability to think critically.” your article against racism loses some value.

    Once again feel free to disagree with me, but please do so civilly and without insults.

    Sincerely,

    A Dartmouth Student of Non-American (and non-Asian origin)

    [WHIB #18, 19]

  10. Note: my two first quotes are from Wikipedia articles on “Ivy League” and “Satire” respectively.

  11. ^Non-American, Non-Asian? Let me guess–white European. Please, keep your convoluted leaps of logic to yourself.

  12. What was truly upsetting is that the guy who did this had absolutely NO CLUE that it was not at all funny and in poor taste. This is especially embarrassing in light of the fact Dr. Kim was being considered by President Obama to head up the international HIV/AIDS program.

    @Concerned Dartmouth Student
    First off, trying to make an argument by using definitions you found on the internet is generally not a good idea. It shows that you yourself are unable to think critically and independently about this issue (i.e. racial ignorance), which is one that plays a major role in the lives of many of your fellow students (whether you are aware of it or not). This isn’t some paper you’re writing for a freshman seminar, these are real people with real feelings we’re talking about so please show some respect for the matter at hand.

    Secondly, this article IS in keeping with the author’s previous assertion that the GGMM message is an example of a white person who fails to think critically. How the author could fail to recognize that the message would be read an insult and not as a satire is beyond me. If he had any empathy at all, he would have understood that a “satire” like that only brings up hurtful prejudices and sentiments and does little to “shame racists” (in your words).

    The stereotype of the Dartmouth student as a wealthy, bigoted, Caucasian male is slowly (but surely) dying. Nobody, up to that point, had made any public racial slur against Dr. Kim; the author of the email brought it to the forefront of everyone’s mind. He only caused trouble where there had not been any. THAT is why the email was inappropriate and offensive.

    Also, to the readers on this site: Dartlog = the Dartmouth Review (you know, the paper D’nesh D’Souza founded). Although they have stirred up many racist sentiments with their some of their more hateful articles, they do not reflect the majority of our campus.

  13. Pingback: All About Race: Racial Insult Is Not Satire | Pop + Politics

  14. I would just like to point out that this post, and many of the comments are classic examples of misunderstood satire. I will state again, that the original e-mail was indeed a satire, but I was wrong in my first post, when I said the satire was unsuccessful. The very fact that this post is here and all over newspapers and blogs makes it successful. The Author of the e-mail made us confront the issue of racism, and now no one on (at least) our campus will feel like they can not speak out against racism. And please I urge all of you who read this to read the Wikipedia article on Satire
    Particularly this section – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire#Misconception_of_satire

    @cad: Yes, I am a White European, I am glad to see that my race somehow invalidates my opinion in your view.

    @Dartmouth College Junior: Using definitions and axioms is the cornerstone of valid logical arguments. When trying to make a point, not about the emotional impact of something, but about whether or not something is satire, a definition of satire is perfectly acceptable. I believe that your personal outrage at the language of the e-mail, has hindered your understanding of the message. You see, I am in no way qualified to label this message as offensive to someone other than me, so I will avoid that. Also I agree that the Dartmouth stereotype is changing, but the “wealthy, bigoted, Caucasian male” stereotype still exists.

    Though at first I though this blog provided a forum, for both opinion and civil debate it seems as it is not so. When faced with my arguments (yes, using dictionary definitions, because indeed I am not personally outraged and hurt by this situation, and thus can I resort to making logical statements), you resorted to, not a refutation of them but rather of stating that my entire method of presenting them is silly (WHIB # 19 for instance). Now I thought about why that is, and came up with only one reasonable explanation after further perusal of this blog. This is a forum for RANTing about your hurt emotions and bashing those that disagree with you (here I do not use rant as an offensive word, but rather as a literary term, a form of monologue). You see if you refrain from using valid arguments, and definitions, the following happens: someone who dislikes a post replies with a generic “your statement is invalid, because (and then a generic personal insult or label).” You see it is much easier to refute an individual’s statement than a logical argument. (I wonder how many WHIB tags I will pick up this time).

  15. Hey Dartmouth College Junior, thanks for your contributions! But I tend to think that lots of folks simply can’t understand that dictionary definitions don’t convey the total meaning of words, nor can they be definitively used to describe how words are used in context. You make a good point about impact.

    I had forgotten about Dinesh D’Souza. In my mind that was a good thing. Pass the brain soap, please.

  16. The problem with the whole, “at least a lesson was learned” argument that I see in Concerned Dartmouth Student’s post above (going so far as to call this email “successful”), and in the email author’s apology (in the update post), among other places, is the total failure to look at WHAT lesson was learned, and by whom, and at the expense of whom.

    The logic behind this argument is that the pain caused by this racist rant *at the expense of Asian Americans* (and I mean primarily at the expense of Asian Americans because this kind of racism has more wide-reaching consequences then its “target”) is somehow excused if a lesson was learned *by white folks*. There are far more productive ways to engage in a dialogue about race and racism (damn, there aren’t really too many LESS productive ways, in fact) than an email like this. Spinning it around to a, “well, we all come out stronger in the end” message is almost a way of excusing the action without having to endorse it. I know in the aftermath of a racist incident on my college campus some years back the “we learned from it, so it’s okay” line was bandied about a lot, but if THIS is what it takes for college campuses to learn about/discuss race (I mean on an institutional level, since often student organizations or individual academics/departments DO in fact engage in anti-racist organizing and consciousness raising), it just goes to illustrate what a long road we have to travel, and how important it is that we continue to reflect on race and engage in anti-racist work.

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