From today’s column by Jon Carroll:
See, the person I worry about is Samson Wong, editor in chief of AsianWeek, a free publication aimed at the Bay Area Asian community and published by the famously powerful Fang family. I put myself in his place. He gets a new column from his feisty young columnist Kenneth Eng. The title of the column is “Why I Hate Blacks.”
So Samson Wong apparently says to himself, “Sure, why not, it’s a free country,” and he prints the column. Did he not perhaps think that a newspaper has many missions, and fostering community understanding is one of them? This wasn’t a reasoned screed against affirmative action; this was a goddamn “Why I Hate Black People.” One has been in the newspaper business many years; one’s jaw is agape.
I also fret about David Lee, spokesman for the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. He said that Eng’s column reflects the way some Asians really feel and that it’s good to get this stuff out on the table. “Rather than refute and bury this, we should be calling for a community dialogue to address this.”
I’m just guessing here, but if I wrote a column called “Why I Hate Yellow People,” I’m pretty sure that David Lee would not be quite so sanguine about it. I imagine he would refute the column, probably really strongly, and I don’t imagine he’d want to have a town hall meeting first. I’m all for dialogue, but there’s a baseline of respect that’s necessary for the dialogue to work. If there’s no respect, then the dialogue can often turn into what we like to call “war.”