- By Christine Y. ChenChristine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
We’ve finally gotten to the point where it’s entirely plausible that the next U.S. president will have had a black father, a white mother, and a half-Asian sister. America has finally moved beyond race, right?
Not so fast. All you have to do is look to my hometown, “liberal” Boulder, Colorado, as this week’s Exhibit A of how screwed up the United States still is when it comes to race. At the University of Colorado, a columnist for a student newspaper wrote that Asians should be rounded up with an “extra-large butterfly net,” “hog-tied,” forced to drink and eat sushi with a fork, and ordered to dance until their spirits are broken. Lovely, eh?
The university has issued an apology. So have the editors of the paper. They claim the column was meant to be a satire and a commentary on racism. But the column was never clearly labelled as a satire, and the columnist’s writing skills are so poor, that… well, let’s just say he will be getting employment at neither a reputable paper nor at The Onion. He may not even be really racist. But he’s a total and complete idiot. I hesitate to bring his column to your attention because he’s pulled immature, stupid, controversial stunts like this before.
But the bottom line is, there’s a very real danger that readers of his column will take him seriously. It wasn’t that long ago that 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps in this country. The Jena Six incident, where nooses were hung on trees at a high school in Louisiana, took place only a few months ago. There are no excuses: Racial violence is not something to be taken lightly, whether you’re a college student or not.