Posted by debito on March 2nd, 2007
Hi Blog. I think I should probably start a site which talks about how other societies deal with problems of discrimination. Offer a template for what Japan can similarly do. First a comment, then the case:
The first case (thanks to Karen for notifying me) is about hate speech in the US, where somebody wrote an essay for a prominent media outlet on why he hates black people. Look at how other media and the anti-defamation leagues (not to mention national politicians) immediately pounced on it.
You don’t see that happening often enough in Japan–and when human rights groups and activists like us do react (often successfully), we get accused of “Western moralizing” (a la Gregory Clark), cultural imperialism, or worse of all censorship or denial of freedom of speech.
The US, for one, has long progressed beyond that. They don’t necessarily arrest the perpetrator, but in the following case, the media and pundits came through to debate him down.
In a similar example in Japan, the GAIJIN HANZAI magazine, the Japanese press just about completely ignored it, and it was up to us domestic bloggers and activists to tell the distributors to disavow. Which they did, eventually. But it wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because civil society is not sufficiently developed here (not to mention is suppressed by “press club” media cartels, even more so than in the US) to set things right and make the debate arena a fair fight.
This is what prominent J politicians (even people like Education Minister Ibuki Bunmei–contrast with Nancy Pelosi below) would pooh-pooh as “human rights metabolic syndrome”? Phooey. I think it’s time, given Bunmei’s Butter comments, for people to realize that Japan’s suffering from too few human rights enforcement mechanisms, not too many. This is what people should be doing in any society.
Anyway, the case study follows. Arudou Debito in Kurohime, Nagano
“WHY I HATE BLACKS”
US SOCIETY SHOUTS DOWN HATE SPEECH
Asian Week Suspends Writer Of Racist Column
POSTED: 12:56 pm PST February 28, 2007
UPDATED: 12:50 pm PST March 1, 2007
Courtesy NBC San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO — An editor of a weekly newspaper calling itself “The Voice of Asian America” apologized and suspended a columnist after Asian-American and city leaders condemned an opinion piece titled “Why I Hate Blacks.”
The controversial column by 22-year-old New York based Kenneth Eng appeared in the current edition of Asian Week, which came out Friday.
In the piece, which appeared in the Feb. 23 edition, Eng lists reasons why he supports discrimination against blacks — including because “they are the only race that has been enslaved for 300 years.”
Leaders at the Asian American Justice Center, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans and other groups are circulating a petition denouncing the column as “irresponsible journalism, blatantly racist, replete with stereotypes, and deeply hurtful to African Americans.”
Ted Fang, AsianWeek’s editor-at-large, called the decision to publish Eng’s piece a “mistake” and held a news conference with NAACP leaders in San Francisco on Wednesday to discuss how the Asian and black communities “can be different and yet get along and work together.”
Fang said he suspended Eng from writing for the paper.
“The newspaper is sorry that this got published, and I am personally sorry that this got published,” Fang told The Associated Press. “The views in that opinion piece do not in any way reflect the views of AsianWeek.”
The paper, with a circulation of 48,505, plans to review its policies to “understand how this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he added.
Fang’s family publishes AsianWeek, along with a local newspaper called the Independent, and owned the San Francisco Examiner between 2000 and 2004.
The petition being circulated by Asian-American groups calls on AsianWeek to cut ties with Eng, issue an apology, print an editorial refuting the column, and fire or demote the editors who published it.
“It certainly does not speak for the vast majority of Asian Americans,” Stewart Kwoh, who heads the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles, said Tuesday. “This kind of inflammatory (column) really can hurt and damage relations with the broader African-American community.”
Kenneth Eng, who has described himself as an “Asian Supremacist,” has written several columns for AsianWeek since November, including pieces titled “Proof That Whites Inherently Hate Us” and “Why I Hate Asians.”
Eng is in his early 20s and a graduate of New York University, according to a biography on a Web site promoting his science fiction writing.
A telephone listing for Eng could not immediately be located.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the column had “no place in a city that is known around the world for civil rights and equality for all people. I am deeply concerned, both for the opinions expressed in the column and the fact that these opinions were published in a local newspaper.”
Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, one of the city’s top black officials, has co-sponsored a city resolution condemning the article and AsianWeek’s decision to publish it. But she doesn’t believe Eng’s column will hurt relations between blacks and Asians in San Francisco.
“This man clearly is very ignorant of African-American history and his own history, and he’s very angry,” said Maxwell, who represents a district with large black and Asian populations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on the matter.
“AsianWeek’s recent apology is a step in the right direction. Asian Week needs to make clear that despite this setback, it will move forward with policies that have no room for hate speech in its publication,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Full Pelosi Statement
“The hateful views expressed in Kenneth Eng’s column must not be tolerated and AsianWeek’s decision to print them was irresponsible. Eng’s words were not only offensive to African Americans, but to all Americans.
“AsianWeek, a publication known for promoting diversity and civil rights, has now issued an apology and has decided to no longer run material by Mr. Eng. These are steps in the right direction.
“I am proud to represent a city that prides itself on its diversity as its strength. Speech that promotes hate has no place in San Francisco or anywhere in our country. We must continue the fight to end racism and promote social justice for all.”