Heath Urie, Rocky Mountain News, February 20, 2008
BOULDER—A column penned this week by a University of Colorado student has divided some past and present members of the Campus Press—the official student newspaper at CU—and enraged other students for what some said is a racist and inflammatory commentary about people of Asian ethnicity.
Administrators in November 2006 investigated Karson because of a satirical newsletter he circulated called “The Yeti,” which angered some students and faculty members for writings that included columns about how women are not designed to enjoy sex and that he is “afraid of black people.”
Then, last year, Karson was arrested and suspended after classmates reported that he said he was “angry enough to kill” during a heated discussion about the Virginia Tech shootings.
Published on the newspaper’s Web site Monday, Karson’s piece begins that he’s noticed “some tension between the white students and the Asian students” at CU in the past year.
“They hate us all. And I say it’s time we started hating them back.”
The article, which appears in the opinion section of the paper’s Web site, appears to be satirical but contains no editor’s note or other explanation about its content.
Karson’s article angered Pasha Minallah, a 27-year-old junior music major at CU and member of the South Asian Student Association.
“I just can’t believe it,” Minallah said. “It’s stereotypes left and right. It’s hard to believe that people think this way.”
“I don’t get it,” Minallah said. “This person isn’t very comfortable with the way he sees minority students in general and wishes they would be different—wishes they would be more like himself.”
Campus Press editor-in-chief Cassie Hewlings and faculty adviser Amy Herdy also declined to comment Tuesday about Karson’s column, although both women posted messages on the Campus Press Web site defending attacks on the paper from three former Campus Press editors who criticized the decision to run the article.
Stephanie Clary, who butted heads with the paper’s administration over a proposed name change in 2006, was among the former editors critical of the column. Herdy said Clary “did not run the paper” from 2004 to 2006, as reported in the Camera.
Clary told the Camera on Tuesday that she agrees Karson has a First Amendment right to “say what he wants” but questioned why the piece was allowed to run with such a vitriolic tone.
Hewlings responded to critics online.
“Thank you so much for pointing directly to yourselves as the absolute enemy of the very core of journalism as you advocate for self-censorship and prior restraint,” Hewlings wrote. “There is news judgement when offering commentary on a very real phenomenon on this campus and I stand by my decision.”
Since I transferred to CU last year, I’ve noticed some tension between the white students and the Asian students. There’s never any outright conflict, but I notice little things. Like, Asians always seem surprised whenever I talk to them. They stare at me for a few seconds as though I must have made some mistake, and once they realize I’m intentionally speaking to them, they aren’t always thrilled.
On the other hand, white people are quick to ridicule Asians. They have no problem with making demeaning remarks about their looks, mannerisms, and accents—things they would never say about black people.
So when an Asian refuses to make eye contact with me or dismisses me with a one-word sentence, I just say to myself, “Max, Asians are not evil cyborgs. They’re human, just like you. And if you were a minority student in a sea of walnut-brained business majors and skiers, you’d be crabby, too.”
But last week, I had an epiphany.
After my friend and I finished working our abs at the Rec Center, we decided to head upstairs to tighten our buns on the StairMaster. As we walked down the hallway, a rubber ball bounced out of one of the racquetball courts and landed at the feet of an Asian in front of us. He picked up the ball and leaned over the railing of the court nearest to him.
“Hey, that’s not ours,” I heard a guy call up from the court. The Asian stared down at him for a moment, and then held the ball out to him. “That’s not ours,” the guy said again.
Then another voice called out from a different court, “Hey, does anyone see a ball up there?”
The Asian looked over, confused.
“I think it goes to that court,” I said, pointing to the one nearest to me.
The Asian stared at me blankly for another second, and then he looked back down into the court next to him and offered them the ball again.
“That’s not our ball,” the guy called up.
“Excuse me,” I said. The Asian whipped his head around and scowled at me. “I think it goes to that court.”
He paused a few seconds, and then he said, in a perfect American accent, “Okay,” and tossed the ball into the court next to me.
That’s when it hit me.
The Asian was so jaded by his experiences with the whitebread, brainless tree sloths of CU that even though three people had explained to him that he was trying to return the ball to the wrong court, it was inconceivable to him that we might be right.
And when he looked into my eyes, it wasn’t just irritation and disgust that I saw-it was hate. Pure hate.
I’m such a fool for not realizing it sooner. 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.
The first step, or “Phase 1,” is to find them all. Anyone who is interested in signing up to volunteer can do so by e-mailing me. Next Sunday at noon, we will all meet at Farrand Field. Each volunteer will be issued an extra-large butterfly net.
The hunt will then begin.
When I blow my whistle, we will scatter in every direction and catch as many Asians as possible. Make sure to pay special attention to the Rec Center, the UMC, the math and engineering buildings and Lollicup. If you’re not sure if someone is an Asian, give them a calculus problem to do in their head. If they get it right, net ’em.
Captured Asians will be dragged to my apartment on the Hill and hog-tied. Once they’re all secured in my living room, “Phase 2” will come into effect.
The Asians’ reformation will begin with a 100-round beer pong tournament. They will listen to “It’s a Small World” on repeat while they play.
When the tournament is finished, the Asians will then be forced to eat bad sushi from Hapa-with forks. When all the sushi is gone, they will be permitted to sleep for four hours, but the entire time I will shout through a megaphone, over and over, “Why didn’t you make enough Wiis?!”
In the morning, the Asians will arrange themselves in rows, if they haven’t naturally done so already. I will stand in front of them and hold up a card with the name of an emotion on it such as, “sad,” or “surprised.” The Asians must then make a facial expression to match the word on the card. Any Asian who remains deadpan or makes the wrong face will be tickled until they pee. When all Asians make the correct face at the same time, the game will end, but then they will be yelled at for being conformists.
The Asians will then be allowed to play “Dance Dance Revolution.” However, the game will be rigged so that the Asians will receive no points, regardless of how robotically they dance.
Any Asian who tries to escape will be butterfly-netted and sent back to my apartment for another “Phase 2.” Anyone caught speaking any language other than English will be kissed on the lips.
Once the Asian spirit has been broken, “Phase 3” will begin. Before we let the Asians go, we will go to their homes and redecorate them in a traditional American style. We will replace their rice cookers with George Foreman Grills, their green tea mochi with fried Snickers bars, and their rice rockets with Hummers. And booster seats.
When “Phase 3” is complete, the Asians will be released.
Now, I understand that this plan may upset some of you Asian readers, but the only other way to make peace would be to expel you. If you’re smart, you’ll turn yourselves in now, and it will all be over in a few days.
Besides, look on the bright side-we’re not going to put you through anything we haven’t put ourselves through, and we all turned out fine.