I don’t easily get offended; sure, there’s a lot of stuff for APAs to get riled up for this summer, but I always pride my self for being a good sport, finding humor in poor stereotypes, and understanding how a Hollywood casting process works. So, I usually give columnists the benefit of the doubt when reading opinion pieces, until one of my fellow 8 Asians pointed out Joel Stein’s TIME column, My Own Private India.
I was shocked, I was angered, I tried to find the real purpose of this “piece,” but then I was just plain offended.
Here are excerpts of Mr. Stein’s eloquently written reflection of his hometown, after being invaded by “dot heads:”
“For a while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to understand why India is so damn poor.”
“Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians “dot heads.” … In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if “dot heads” was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose.”
First of all, that’s “Gods,” not “gods.”
Second of all, this is the highest degree of editorial recklessness. Sure, I believe in the freedom of speech as strong as the next Berkeley-born-vegan-liberal-hippie –all of which I am, proudly — but this kind of tone and language is not acceptable just because you are a ‘journalist’ for TIME Magazine, and are reflecting on how your town has changed, for the better or the worse.
What if Mr. Stein took the word “Indian” and replaced it with “Mexican?” Would he be as brave to make such bold statements as, “we started to realize why Mexico is so damn poor?”
Obviously many people are not happy with this ‘article’ either: Google Joel Stein, and this shows up in his Wikipedia:
Doesn’t really sound like an apology.
So what’s the moral of the story? THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE. Asian Americans, as polite and quiet as some may think we are, also have feelings — and we also have a voice. And Joel Stein’s attempts be funny ends up looking like a major league jackass.