CU-Boulder students and community members are up in arms over a column published Monday on CU’s online student newspaper that some readers say was a racist attack on the Asian-American population.
The column in the Campus Press, titled “If it’s war the Asians want . It’s war they’ll get,” addressed relations between Asian-Americans and white students on the CU campus. In the column, the author, Max Karson, suggested a “three-phase plan” in which Asians are captured and forced to engage in activities to break the “Asian spirit.”
Karson garnered national attention last year when he was suspended and arrested for saying he sometimes feels angry enough kill people in a class discussion the day after the Virginia Tech Massacre.
Karson declined comment Wednesday.
Patricia Kaowthumrong, a former Campus Press copy editor, said Karson is known on campus for writing gritty, highly offensive satire in his underground newsletter, The Yeti.
“He was probably just trying to get attention and shock people,” the junior journalism major, who identifies herself as Asian, said. “But if you’re going to print it, and it’s going to offend people, then it’s not right.”
Kaowthumrong said many may attribute the column to Karson’s personality but people all over the state are feeling offended by his message.
“In general, no matter what the intention, hate crimes, violence is a serious problem against Asian-Americans,” said Janice Lee, deputy executive director at the National Office of the Asian-American Journalists Association.
Lee said responsible journalism should be thought about more often with any publication. She said it doesn’t matter whether the column was meant to be satirical or not, adding that it should have been more closely examined before it was published.
Justine Bledsoe, a staff member at the Asian Pacific Development Center, said that Karson’s column was not acceptable.
“I understand free speech, but you have to have enough common sense to know when to stop,” she said.
While many CSU students said they were initially shocked at the stereotypical nature of the column, their opinion of the piece changed after looking at it more closely.
“To categorize all of these people and target all of these people is juvenile,” said Jessie Groth, a sophomore liberal arts major at CSU. “But the more I look at it, the more I think it’s maybe not serious.”
Although the piece may have been written as a satire, some said they were confused about Karson’s motives.
“The unfortunate thing about public media is that even if it’s satirical, people may not understand that,” said Tony Krezel, a senior mechanical engineering major. “An opinion column is just not a good place to play with the whole racism game.”
While some said the column was just good for a cheap laugh and others said it was racist and disgusting, Darcy Orahood, a junior bio-chemistry major, said it wasn’t either.
“(Karson) just seems ignorant to how people from different cultures are treated,” she said. “He’s making it sound like there’s a much greater cultural difference than there really is.”
Campus Press editors declined to comment but told CU students the backlash is a learning experience and that it was an issue of free speech in a formal apology for the “satire” on their Web site Wednesday.
Senior Reporter Cece Wildeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.