Student Column’s Satire Not Funny

By Guest Columnist Feb 28, 2008

by Alex Jung Maybe it’s because I’m Asian American, but I’m confused by Max Karson’s "satirical" opinion editorial, "If It’s War the Asians Want…It’s War They’ll Get" in the Campus Press at Colorado University, that has caused a veritable firestorm on campus. He suggests they play a catch-the-Asian-game (which evokes eerie parallels to the "Catch the Immigrant" game played by Republicans on different university campuses) and then subject them to a regime of brainwashing tactics to force them to act more vanilla. Much of the criticism, and rightfully so, has been directed onto the Campus Press editorial staff who stupidly printed the piece (and others like it) to begin with. The predictable "freedom of press" arguments have been made and critiqued, but what vexes me (and maybe this is the literatus inside of me) is the argument that the article was satire, implicitly asking, "Why can’t you take a joke?" I mean, I watch Stephen Colbert too, and he has a clear subject that he satirizes: the blathering white male conservative that takes real-person form in Bill O’ Reilly. But what point does the piece make by declaring "War on Asians"? Is it supposed to illustrate how ignorant white people are? It begins, I think, with a story probably similar to something Karson has experienced (I say this mostly because his racquetball story is so uninteresting it must have actually happened). As a solution to his frustration over how different Asian people are he goes into what I think he thinks is "satire" or a hyperbole of how to force Asians and Asian Americans to assimilate to white norms. I realize these are somewhat rhetorical points that might be better left in an English seminar, but they reveal how the piece is just thinly veiled racism. Then what separates this piece from a more readable piece by the KKK? Would Campus Press staff print blatantly racist material on the grounds of freedom of the press? Maybe Karson is just really upset that he grew up in a community that feeds its children Corn Flakes and McDonalds, can’t speak languages other than American, and has half of its marriages dissolve in divorce.* Understandably, I’d be upset too. *Just kidding!