March 21, 2011

Union Weekly apologizes for powwow story

Union Weekly apologizes for Pow Wow story

By Laura RuizThe Union Weekly issued an apology yesterday for a highly criticized review of the 41st annual Pow Wow American Indian gathering, stating that it was "meant as an unflattering view of the event itself" and not "an assault on an entire culture."

The article titled "Pow Wow Wow Yippee Yo Yippy Yay" was written by the publication's campus editor, Noah Kelly, and published on March 14 in last week's issue of the Cal State Long Beach student publication funded by Associated Students Inc.

The Union published several disapproving letters from the community, and apologies from Kelly and Editor-in-Chief Kevin O'Brien.
And:In a letter addressed to the CSULB administration, the American Indian Student Council "[demanded] that the university and Union Weekly officials condemn the ignorance and racism shown in the article."

They also called Kelly's article derogatory, racist and ignorant, stating it was clear that he had no real interest in learning about the event and calling the review biased against the American Indian community.
And:President F. King Alexander responded to the article, saying CSULB does not "support the insensitivity nor the opinions" of the Union Weekly writer, but the writer is protected under the First Amendment.

Kelly said he received death threats in response to the article.
Comment:  Death threats are way over the top for something like this. Kelly's article was nothing compared to, say, Bryan Fischer's columns justifying America's genocidal actions against Indians.

I just watched The Son Also Draws episode of Family Guy again. It also was much more offensive than this article. Let's keep these things in perspective, people.

On the other hand, the newspaper's rationalization--it was "meant as an unflattering view of the event itself"--sounds disingenuous. Kelly didn't write that other powwows are impressive but this one seemed shabby. Moreover, he attacked Indian tacos and frybread in general. Since they're a staple of Indian events, insulting them is equivalent to "an assault on an entire culture."

Let's sum it up: Kelly wrote an ignorant and insulting column. Indians took him to task for it. Kelly and the newspaper apologized. So the system worked the way it's supposed to. Everyone learned a lesson about attacking minorities and their cultural traditions without cause.

We can hope these people have begun to rethink their ignorant views. If not, we've taught them to keep their ignorant views to themselves. That's all you can do sometimes.

For more on the subject, see Powwow Participants Compared to Homeless.


HideStyle said...

How can one write an unflattering review of an event, without even having the least shread of care about the reason for the event itself? *sigh* Yet another lame "apology".

Jaine said...

"We can hope these people have begun to rethink their ignorant views. If not, we've taught them to keep their ignorant views to themselves. That's all you can do sometimes"

It seems so inadequate, it's a shame there aren't anti-racist workshops these people could be made to attend (in the same way some people who commit physical assault are mandated to attend anger management courses).

none said...

As a writer, he should understand the impact of his words and choose them carefully and not, say, this: "When you write an article, it's an automatic thought of ‘that's what I do' and I didn't give it much self-reflection. It wasn't until later that I realized its impact."

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Our View--Students shouldn’t be punished for nonthreatening racist remarks

This—in the wake of UCLA student Alexandra Wallace's anti-Asian YouTube video—has started a dialogue regarding free speech on college campuses. The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to free speech, and in no way do we support infringing on that right. But, perhaps, Noah Kelly and the Union should have taken a pause to consider the code of ethics and human decency that we, as journalists, have a responsibility to uphold.