February 28, 2007
Written by C.N.
For some time now, I’ve been a fan and supporter of AsianWeek magazine, a free weekly news-magazine published in San Francisco. Unfortunately, I have now lost virtually all of my respect for them after they printed an opinion piece by one of their regular columnists, Kenneth Eng, entitled “Why I Hate Blacks.” As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Eng’s column has set off a storm of controversy and backlash against AsianWeek:
Eng called himself an “Asian supremacist” in January in another installment of the column, which runs under the label “God of the Universe.” Prominent Asian Americans immediately condemned Eng’s current column. “The hate is based on ignorance and is very similar to the rationales that the KKK uses against African Americans,” said Henry Der, director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. “What gives me the greatest concern was AsianWeek’s judgment in printing such a piece out of context,” Der said. “It is so trite and hateful, it doesn’t speak well for the publication.” . . .
Eng’s “reasons” for hating black people include: * “Blacks hate us. Every Asian who has ever come across them knows that they take almost every opportunity to hurl racist remarks at us.” * “Contrary to media depictions, I would argue that blacks are weak-willed. They are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years.” * “Blacks are easy to coerce. This is proven by the fact that so many of them, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, tend to be Christians.” . . .
Leaders of the Asian Law Caucus, Asian American Justice Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action and other groups and individuals began circulating a petition Friday calling for the paper to apologize, terminate its relationship with Eng, print an editorial refuting the column and review its editorial policy. The leaders’ statement, issued in Washington, D.C., called the piece “irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes and deeply hurtful to African Americans.”
Beyond the excerpts quoted in the article, I haven’t read Eng’s column and AsianWeek has since pulled it from its website. Nonetheless the excerpts are enough for me to join the chorus of other Asian Americans — for that matter, other human beings — and denounce it as unequivocally racist and unimaginably ignorant, and AsianWeek’s decision to publish the piece as blatantly irresponsible and completely unprofessional. For that reason, I have decided to remove AsianWeek from my list of APA news links on this blog.
Of course, free speech gives Eng the right to have an opinion about anything or anyone he wants. But that freedom of speech also gives the rest of us who have some intelligence the right to call his opinion deeply offensive and to call him an embarrassment to the Asian American community — or for that matter, to the human race.
Update: On Feb. 28, 2007, AsianWeek issued a statement and apology. It reads in part:
AsianWeek rejects Eng’s biased views on a critical segment of American society, African Americans. While AsianWeek continues to truly believe in diversity of opinion and freedom of the press, we are also very aware that the promotion of hate speech is not appropriate, nor should it be encouraged. . . . [T]he failing of our editorial process in allowing this opinion piece to go forward, was an insensitive and callous mistake that should never have been made by our publication.
We will be reviewing that editorial process and making any changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again. The condemnation of this serious lapse in editorial judgment was rightfully taken by civic and community leaders and organizations. . . . [W]e are humbled and overwhelmed at reader response not only chastising our editorial process, but strongly urging our paper to sever all ties to this contributor. We have heard the call and Mr. Eng has been terminated from writing for the paper.
I applaud AsianWeek for issuing the apology and admitting that the publication of such racist garbage was a serious breakdown in judgment on the editorial staff’s part. However, you cannot simply just say sorry and walk away from an offense as heinous as this. For AsianWeek to regain the trust and respect of the Asian American community, it needs to put its money where its mouth is.
That is, some initial suggestions that come to mind are that they need to first fire the editor who approved this piece in the first place, have a community forum to discuss their monumental failure, devote an entire issue to the positive relationships between Blacks and Asian Americans, and show their face in the Black community to support their issues and needs. This is just the beginning. AsianWeek, the ball is still in your court. Until then, my opinion has not changed nor am I ready to forgive anything.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "AsianWeek’s Racist Opinion Column" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/02/asianweeks-racist-opinion-column/> ().
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