Freedom of Speech: American Style
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Seeds In the Winds, Springfield and Stanford cases
CAMW: The following letters by various individuals document the winds of changes in 2001 when anti-China sentiments bred racism against all Chinese people.
Two cases are presented here: 1) The Springfield, Il case, where people like Larry Golden, Michael Haas, and Lindy Gelber fight against racism. 2) Stanford University case where Asian American students speak up on a recent hate crime. The cases are seeds in the winds. Which seeds will grow? Fifty years from now, our future generations will perhaps see this in textbooks.
Subject: China Crisis and Racism Comments:
To: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com
From: Golden, Larry
I wanted to alert you to a developing situation here in Springfield with regard to reaction to the China/U.S. "crisis" and to find out whether this is happening elsewhere in the country. One of our local radio talk stations has been fielding comments that are very derogatory to Chinese--both nationals and Americans. The rhetoric has varied from downright bigotry to fostering an environment that could encourage greater hostility. In one instance this morning I heard the commentators talk about first, boycotting all Chinese Restaurants (referred to at one point as places that serve cats or catfood) and secondly, sending all Chinese home to "their country". A Chinese-American friend wrote me her description about this earlier today:
DJs of WQLZ (92.7 FM) have been making demeaning, racist remarks against Chinese Americans because of China vs. U.S. standoff. Yes, you read me correctly, attacks on Americans of Chinese heritage. It doesn't matter how many generations or years we have been in this country. Asian Americans are considered foreigners. Among those disparaging remarks, the most hateful one was when one DJ suggested a Chinese camp for Chinese, just like the one similar to Japanese camp during WWII. This ridiculous act was continued during today's show when they phoned people of a Chinese last names randomly and harassed them when the call was answered.
My wife was born in a concentration camp in California in 1944. The internment occurred within an environment of media stereotyping and the fostering of a hostile environment. While we may not be anywhere near that situation, we all saw how easily such hostility can be generated if we think back to the Iranian hostage situation.
I am wondering if any of you are experiencing similar things and how your communities are responding to them.
Larry Golden Professor of Political Studies and Legal Studies Project Director, Community Outreach Partnership Center University of Illinois At Springfield
From: Mikehaas Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 22:11:19 EDT
Subject: What to Do About the Anti-Chinese Media Backlash
To Larry Golden:
I would not stand for any racial profiling by the media, as such action is clearly contrary to the terms under which WQLZ received a license from the FCC. The appropriate remedy, which I recommend to all who read my remarks, is to write a letter of complaint to both WQLZ (please supply the address for us, Larry) and to the FCC in Washington. With 200 letters of complaint, WQLZ would be hard pressed to justify any license renewal, and that precedent would inform other broadcasters that Asian Americans will not tolerate such misconduct any more. To do nothing but express regret serves only to prepare you for more of the same. Aloha, Michael Haas
From: "Golden, Larry"
Subject: RE: Racial Profiling and the Media -- Anti-Chinese Backlash Date:
Thu, 12 Apr 2001 11:38:27
The suggestion that letters be sent from a national level to these radio stations is an excellent one.
Letters of concern should go to: Mr. Tom Kushak] WMAY/WQLZ P.O. Box 460 Springfield, Illinois 62705.
Thank you for your support. I am sure you are aware that we are not the only place where this has been happening. Larry
Federal Communications Commission 445 12th St. S.W. Washington DC 20554
From: Lindy Gelber
To: Dr. Luke Kim"
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 08:12:54 -0400 Subject: Fw: Anti-Asian events, Invest $.68 in Positive Change
Dear Luke, Thank you for sharing this travesty with me and I want to share with you what I did. Sometimes I think folks may get lost in how much time it takes to write a letter and make serious change. So I suggested the following simple two liner. Also, I sent this on to FCC in NY- Families with Children from China and asked them to send it on to FCC's nationwide. There are 1000 families registered with FCC in NY ALONE! Actually, I think it might really punch the point home if Gov. Gary Locke CALLED the owner of this station and as a citizen wrote his own letter to the FCC. Think I might get on this task Monday morning! I will also be in touch with NBC, ABC, and CBS national news producers MOnday. Judy Woodruff of CNN, is an adoptive mom of a Korean born daughter and a member of Korean Focus. I sent Margie a copy too. thought I might send my letter with a white sheet for the dj to wear! Lindy
From: Lindy Gelber Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2001 3:52 A Subject: Fw: Anti-Asian events, Invest $.68 in Positive Change
Dear All, Please read the attached and send a simple, immediate letter to both the radio station and the FCC to stop this blatant racism. As an adoptive parent when I am hit with these things, I often think if I don't take the time to change this, I am allowing it to continue. It doesn't have to be a Pullitzer Prize Winning letter.
Maybe something as simple as: "The racist format of this show is unacceptable in our diverse, inclusive nation, and tears at the very fabric of America, which includes Asian Americans and all their positive contributions to this society. American values dictate an immediate stop to this format."
Can you also pass it on to lists or groups that you have access to. May is Asian American Heritage Month and doing something of this nature is probably very, very significant in advancing the positive input of all Asian Americans. Okay, only two thirty four cent stamps and two one penny envelopes separate us from inaction. Lindy
Forwarded Message List
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 19:29:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Stanford Incidents Content
I know some of us think of California as an exceptionally tolerant and welcoming place for Asian Americans. This sobering message comes from the AASA at Stanford.
in unity, Howard Lien ECASU Internal
Official Statement of the Asian American Students' Association on Recent Hate Crimes
To the dismay of the Asian Pacific American community at Stanford, an unfortunate series of hate crimes were committed in the past few weeks. Several areas in the history building and Meyer Library were found vandalized with graffiti containing explicit anti-Asian and anti-Black sentiments.
Three separate incidents of the graffiti were found in varying places on campus. The first evidence of the graffiti was found in the history building on Thursday, March 15. The second in Building 50 on the morning of March 20, and finally on a table from Meyer Library on Monday April 2.
According to the police, these crimes have been classified and quoted as "hate crimes". Examples of the kinds of anti-Asian and anti-Black sentiments included the following:
rape all asian bitches and dump them rape all oriental bitches KKK White man rules niggers don't get it, this is a whites only class nuke hiroshima kill all gooks rape all asian bitches and dump them I'm a real white american nuke japan nuke niggers rape all oriental bitches I'm a klansman gooks out!!!
Before stating our organization's opinion on this matter, we would like to first recognize that within the Asian Pacific American (APA) community, a broad range of opinions exists regarding the occurrence of this act of hate. There are individuals who are enraged by this incident, while others may wonder what the fuss is all about. As is in the "real world", we are a community that consists of people with a broad range of ideas and opinions. We respect their opinions and hope that they may agree with the reasoning behind ours.
We, the Asian American Students' Association (AASA), as the representative undergraduate student organization for APA's at Stanford are deeply grieved and scarred by the blatant act of hate committed by this/these individual(s). Indeed, this is a harsh learning experience for those of us who have been affected. As an organization that has dedicated its existence to the safety of students of Asian/Pacific Islander descent, we have been dealt a hefty blow as a result of this hate crime. Yet as a result of this travesty, our goals and our agenda have become that much clearer-to educate students.
The University has shown concern pertaining to these remarks and has taken brisk but frankly limited measures to apprehend the perpetrator(s). They have also taken measures to allay the fears of affected communities by attempting to withhold the details of the evidence in order to preserve a sense of dignity and order. To the University and the university police, we thank them for their efforts in helping the campus maintain a state of calm in the midst of turbulence.
Nevertheless, we strongly believe that in spite of the disgusting nature of this vandalism, we have a stronger obligation to our community and beyond to inform them of the dangers and the grim reality of the hateful opinions that hover around us-from classmates to even our peers. We believe our responsibility to educate our peers-as painful as it may be-far exceed the call to comfort through appeasement or ignorance. Indeed, this is an ugly mark on Stanford's reputation for tolerance across ethnic boundaries. These marks can be hidden, but not for long. These marks are ugly, but they can also be dealt with more effectively. We believe the time is now for the University to act upon its solemn promise of maintaining and promoting ethnic tolerance and understanding by shifting its focus toward creating pro-active, permanent, long-term solutions.
To those who sympathize and for those who have been affected by this incident, we hope that you will take a pro-active stance with us. We hope that this message will spark widespread civil and meaningful conversations among your peers regardless of their background. We also hope you will help us create dialogue with the University's new administration to create an institution that we all can be proud of. As students, we too have the obligation to effect change by keeping open communications with our University's administration.
We expect many-even APA students-to be confused, apathetic, or even enraged at our stance. However, we encourage those of you to take on the difficult task of putting yourself into our shoes. Try to understand how it feels to be afraid to walk alone at night for fear of being raped, how it feels to be treated like a foreigner in your own native country, or how it feels to be targets of a hate crime. We are convinced that once you see what those of us have seen, you too will be compelled to support our cause to seek an effective long term solution to the real underlying problem behind this incident-a long overdue institutionalization of education on cross-cultural understanding and social justice. [CAMW: The blue highlight indicates our strong agreement.]
Asian American Students' Association '00-'01 firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit ECASU's homepage at http://www.ecasu.org