Update: Best and brightest

A H.K. paper names the student as Tommy Brothers.

Edited to add:  Apology at the end of this post.  I stand by my opinion that intention should not be included in an apology.

I would like to apologize to the entire Dartmouth community for the offense and harm that I caused by writing the Generic Good Morning Message listserv on Tuesday morning. I was the anonymous GGMM intern cited in the D as “Lozar Theofilactidis,” and the words were all mine.

I understand that the message I wrote was very hurtful and insensitive. I know that no apology can make up for the pain I’ve caused, but I hope that it can be a start. I also know that no matter what justification I can attempt to provide for my actions, I’ve directly harmed the College, and I’m sorry for that.

I hope you can all understand that my intent was never one of malice against the Asian community, but an extremely crass attempt at hyperbolic satire. I was initially trying to criticize what I perceived to be surprise among many at the naming of an Asian-American President-Elect, Dr. Kim. I then tried to broaden my attack to encompass all of the reactionary, xenophobic, neo-Patriotism that exists in our post 9/11 America. I tried to create a narrator that would be viewed as ignorant, and I hoped that by removing any semblance of subtlety, this voice would not be taken seriously. I realize now that somewhere in that transformation, the specific target of my satire was lost, and all that remained on the page were my extremely racist words.

That being said, I now know that I can’t hide behind my “intent.” Intent and execution are two entirely different things. I know I hurt many people personally, and damaged the reputation of the College publicly. I deeply regret my actions and the harm I have caused. I had no right to spread a message that alienated and belittled one ethic group, particularly one to which I do not belong.

I also realize that this reaction of surprise that I perceived among some students was not racist or xenophobic at all, but rather appropriate. Come July, we will have the first Asian-American Ivy League President, proudly breaking a tradition of largely Caucasian male Presidents. I know the entire College community is very proud of this fact.

The student body’s response in defense of Dr. Kim, both privately and publicly, has been overwhelmingly positive. The D’s article yesterday, “E-mail on Kim stirs controversy,” clearly showed that my misinterpreted words do not represent Dartmouth’s actual opinions of Dr. Kim’s election. I know that my message seemed to act as a flagship of student opinion outside of Hanover, and I apologize for giving that a chance to happen.

I have started, along with the rest of the GGMM staff, to try to find ways that the whole community can learn from this experience. We are meeting with OPAL and the Pan-Asian Council to try to find a constructive strategy moving forward. Among the comedy groups at Dartmouth, I hope we can find a way to try to prevent offensive lines in satire from being crossed again, as they have been in the past. I hope that my incendiary message at least provoked some discussion about race and inclusively on campus, but I am ashamed that it required so much offense and hurt for this to happen.

I know I can never take back what I wrote. I am sorry if I hurt you personally, and I am sorry for affecting the College in such a negative way. If you would like to speak to me individually about this, I would love to do so. Perhaps at the beginning of next term, after finals, would be the best time. I promise you I am going to learn as much as I can from this mistake.


Tommy Brothers
Class of 2011


8 thoughts on “Update: Best and brightest

  1. That being said, I now know that I can’t hide behind my “intent.” Intent and execution are two entirely different things.

    So he seems to recognize, kind of, that it’s not ok to just hide behind “it was satire.” He does get weaselly in the last two paragraphs. I think it comes down to whether you believe his claim that it was meant as a satire of racists, rather than a straight up racist rant. That’s easy to believe reading the apology alone, but much more difficult to believe reading the initial email that this guy sent. So, I dunno. I wonder if he really wrote this apology or if someone told him all the words to say.

    I’m trying to put myself in this guy’s shoes – which is hard, because I can’t see myself ever sending an email like that, and yet I know I have done racist things in the past. At the very least, I can definitely see it within the realm of possibility that I might, in the process of trying to be anti-racist, do or say something racist. It wouldn’t be the first time. And if that did happen and I was called out on it I think my apology might look similar: “Crap, I was trying to be anti-racist and wound up being racist instead, and I’m really sorry to the people I hurt.” I suppose I’d probably try to come up with some concrete and non-weaselly way to make amends, but I honestly don’t know what that would be. How could anyone possibly make amends for an email like that?

    Anyway, feel free to have a go at what I’ve said here, because I suspect it is entirely possible that you are right and intentions should not be included in an apology. But I am not entirely convinced. I’m thinking about this.

  2. Another apology from a racist pig!

    How many more do you think we are going to get
    before the year ends?

    Big yawn!

    Thanks for the Chinese version.

  3. I do not believe his apology for one moment, I think he meant every word he wrote in the first place, why, because he sounds like he means it, and he sounds just like a whole bunch of other white people who say these things, he probably had to make some sort of phoney apology. And his moniker, Tommy Smothers, isn’t that from Laugh-In?

  4. I still am just so blown away by the initial email – I couldn’t imagine what an apology for something that blatant would even look like.

    I will say that this is an improvement over most ‘apologies’ I’ve seen, he seems to get some concepts that usually aren’t even mentioned. BUT — I wonder, like Human, above, whether this guy even wrote all of this himself, or whether he had help. I could even see him or the college calling in an “expert” to help them “make this go away” once they realized how big it had gotten.

    I do agree that intent doesn’t mean squat, and has nothing to do w/ an apology, but that being said, I’ll admit that I sure was curious as to what the writer had intended, if he was going to claim anything other than a blatant racist rant.

    I think, if his “I was trying to use anti-racist satire” is even to be believed (doubtful, as it’s really the ONLY excuse one could even conceivably come up with, once caught), it ties into what writers of this blog have brought up before: using racist/mocking language to illustrate racism is basically … racist. (Like the Engrish bit from a few posts ago)

    He tried more than most in his apology, I guess, but in the end, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – one could say to justify the extreme racism that was spouted in that original email. In the group I work with here, we like to say it’s not about intent, it’s about impact. The impact of this can not be softened by ANY intent.

  5. Pingback: Open Thread: Of Racism, “Satire,” and Humor at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  6. The part that cracks me up is this:

    If you would like to speak to me individually about this, I would love to do so. Perhaps at the beginning of next term, after finals, would be the best time.

  7. surfed in from racialicious. I, too, was floored by the “don’t whine til after my finals, bro” closer.

    Tom, yeah, dude, you’re racist. And your entitlement reeks like a 13-year-old wearing Drakkar Noir.

  8. I also like how he acknowledges that “all that remained on the page were my extremely racist words”, then later writes that those words were somehow “misinterpreted”…Whenever someone uses the words “misinterpret”, or “misunderstand” in an apology my b.s. meter goes off the charts!

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