Looking for real diversity

I love the Asian American Journalists Association. I really do. When I was a reporter, I was a huge cheerleader for them. I’d cover high school graduations, and if there was at least one out of the dozen or so kids I’d interview who said they wanted to explore journalism, I’d tell them to look up AAJA. When I was a Pulliam Fellow in Arizona, I told my roommate she should join, but she remarked, “I’m not Asian.” (She’s Korean. However, there is some dispute as to whether she was kidding or not. She’s now president of the Arizona chapter.) I’m still a huge cheerleader, and I truly hope I can participate more than I am doing so now.

But I’m not blind, nor do I lie to myself. It’s a pretty liberal organization, and its something I’ve come to terms with, just like I’ve come to terms with living in liberal Los Angeles and having close friends who are mostly liberal journalists. Hey, its either come to terms with it and be OK with it, or be angry all the time – and I just don’t have the energy to be that angry all the time. But last week, when I filled out my convention survey (the online form they use to get convention attendees to rate the workshops, events and convention overall), I drew a complete blank on who I’d like to see speak next year.

But later that night, it occurred to me – Michelle Malkin is a journalist of color, and it surprises me that I’ve never seen her participate in one of these conventions. In fact, she’s not just a journalist of color, but she’s a pretty well-known journalist of color. So why have I never seen her or heard about her participating at one of these conventions? Because she’s a “right-wing” conservative?

I don’t know all the circumstances, of course. Maybe she has been invited, and she declined. Maybe she was never invited because she’s so unabashedly conservative. Maybe its because she makes regular appearances on Fox News, who knows. But it really seems to be a shame that she’s not included, because that would constitute some real diversity. Diversity is not just color – its diversity of opinions, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, life experiences.

(And as an aside, she has a funny little quiz that demonstrates how people are more conservative than they think. Check it out:

1. I have never voted for a Democrat in my life.
2. I think my taxes are too high.
3. I supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
4. I voted for President Bush in 2000.
5. I am a gun owner.
6. I support school voucher programs.
7. I oppose condom distribution in public schools.
8. I oppose bilingual education.
9. I oppose gay marriage.
10. I want Social Security privatized.
11. I believe racial profiling at airports is common sense.
12. I shop at Wal-Mart.
13. I enjoy talk radio.
14. I am annoyed when news editors substitute the phrase “undocumented person” for “illegal alien.”
15. I do not believe the phrase “a chink in the armor” is offensive.
16. I eat meat.
17. I believe O.J. Simpson was guilty.
18. I cheered when I learned that Saddam Hussein had been captured.
19. I cry when I hear “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood.
20. I don’t believe the New York Times.

You score 5 points everytime you mark “Yes” to each statement. I scored a 45, so I guess I’m really not that conservative.)

Anyway, my challenge to AAJA is to diversify their lineup – don’t just include liberal or centrist Asians, especially since not all Asian Americans are liberal or centrist. I truly do enjoy hearing keynote speakers like Lisa Ling, Sanjay Gupta, Connie Chung and other notable journalists.

But they’re so safe. C’mon AAJA. Live a little.

16 thoughts on “Looking for real diversity

  1. Come on Darleen you know liberals don’t want to rock the boat, or else as usual the special guest speakers or those who attend will write a letter and voice their concern, by saying they will boycott.

    When liberals boycott it gets attention, when conservatives do, it’s just laughed off.

    I’m not a journalist, I am however Asian and have raised a major concern of mine at a Asian forum regarding Female Genocide by using ultra sounds to abort females in Asian countries.

    I haven’t heard too many famous Asian Americans speaking up about that lately, perhaps I missed it.

    Keep up the good work and good luck with your issue.

  2. There’s also another group the 80/20 which presumes to organize Asians into a political force. Over the past two Presidential elections, they have been on the side of Gore, then Kerry, while I believe most Asians voted for Bush both times. I wish that 80/20 group had 20/20 vision.

  3. Hmm, do you think maybe, just maybe, they never invited her because of that horrible book she wrote defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2?

    Inviting her to an AAJA meeting would be like inviting the a Klan member to an NAACP meeting in the name of diversity.

  4. It is misleading and in error to state that those affected by the evacuation orders were all “Japanese-Americans.” Approximately two-thirds of the ADULTS among those evacuated were Japanese nationals–enemy aliens. The vast majority of evacuated Japanese-Americans (U.S. citizens) were children at the time. Their average age was only 15 years. In addition, over 90% of Japanese-Americans over age 17 were also citizens of Japan (dual citizens)under Japanese law. Thousands had been educated in Japan. Some having returned to the U.S. holding reserve rank in the Japanese armed forces.

  5. I’ve been a member of AAJA for over 10 years (was a full member, now an associate member). After the UNITY conference in Washington D.C., where both George W. Bush and John Kerry spoke and Connie Chung did her little song and dance at the banquet, I knew I was done with AAJA. I went from the accepting (more like denial) that the “gatekeepers” of news are very liberal to downright angry. I just can’t “cheer” for AAJA anymore. I liked your post and suggestion of having Michelle Malkin speak at a future conference but I don’t think convention hosts would invite her. They worry too much about attendence and bringing “popular” panels in.

  6. Thank you for your 1 minute lesson in justifying racism. Oh so it was mostly “children” who were the Japanese-Americans that were “evacuated” (weasel word alert, evacuated = forced to remote fenced in camps with armed guards), that totally justifies it! Just like the mass “evacuations” of German and Italian residents from those areas were totally justified. Oh wait, that never happened.

    BTW, have you heard about those sneaky Filipino’s that are infiltrating our country? They even found one of their spies working in the White House! They better lock up all of them before they cause any real trouble. I bet Michelle Malkin will be the first in line to “evacuate” herself.

  7. Roger Dodger rather identifies himself, doesn’t he? She? It? Well, in the name of diversity, who really knows these days… (That’s called humor.)

    There’s no reason to be quite so angry that history doesn’t match your ideology. Nor is there reason to be quite so angry that contemporary reality doesn’t fit your ideology.

    Raging at those who disagree with you won’t change a thing…indeed, such rage will only marginalize your position.

    You can dodge the truth all that you like.

    Eariler hyperbole involving a comparison of Malkin to the KKK isn’t apt. She doesn’t advocate rascism.

  8. Would Malkin even accept such an invitation? It seems to me that her speaking at an ethnic-based trade organization would be anathema to her core beliefs.

    Further, i think RgrDgr has a point. Why would the Asian-American Journalist Association invite someone who has written a book defending the illegal internment of Asian AMeircnas, an act for which a conservative, Ronald Reagan, apologized?

  9. Do you mean the “relocation” of specific Italian and German citizens who were individually suspected of treason, which happened, or the mass “evacuation” of all people of Italian and German descent, which never happened?

    Because it would be quite foolish of you to bring that up, since it only further the point that the internment of ALL citizens of Japanese descent was a racist, repugnant policy. It’s truly incredible that there are so many people out there still willing to defend it, decades after, as Richard wisely pointed out, it was denounced by Reagan.

  10. Darleene, your thought is a good one, but certain kinds of diversity are impossible in certain kinds of organizations. The problem here is, I believe the racial identity-based organization is an inherently leftward-leaning concept, for the most part.

    I’m an Asian journalist, but I have never been interested in participating in such things, going back to when my parents tried to get me involved in some Taiwanese student group as a kid. You could say that I considered it racial profiling. What did I really have in common with those kids? Nothing I saw, other than race.

    As for Malkin, I’m not a fan. But the internment book is a semi-red herring, as least as it pertains to not being invited in the past. It came out in 2004, and she’s been prominent for much longer than that.

  11. I think it behooves everybody to consider that as draconian as its internment of Japanese Americans was, the Roosevelt administration was much more fundamentally concerned with liberating Asians than locking them up and the many white men and boys dead in the Pacific theater attests to this arch-seminal fact. Dominic

  12. Knowing full well the consequences of debating history with a person who’s intial response is “you’re a racist” here is my response to rgrdgr.

    Ethnic Japanese first given an opportunity to voluntarily move to areas outside the military zones. Thousands did so. Those unable or unwilling to do so were sent to Relocation Centers operated by the War Relocation Authority. More than 33,000 evacuees voluntarily left the relocation centers to accept outside employment. An additional 4,300 left to attend colleges.

    The “barbed wire” was three strand cattle wire that served as a permimeter and was routinely crossed by those living in the centers.

    Sure the soldiers had guns. When a cop pulls me over for speeding he has a gun, too. Making an image that ethnic Japanese were evacuated with guns pointed at their backs is a myth.

    After the WRA took over management of the camps the only gaurds were at the front gate.

    As for the mass evacuation of Italians and Germans, there is a significant difference in an ethnic German American who’s family arrived in 1700 and a 15 year old ethnic Japanese who most likely had dual citizenship and who’s family arrived in 1900.

    The Germans and Italians didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor either nor were they in control of most of the Pacific Ocean.

    Think about it. The Americans knew neither Germany nor Italy had a navy that could sufficiently project enough power to invade the East Coast of the United States.

    Japan had developed such a force that had succeeded in developing the largest empire in the history of mankind in a matter of months.

    One reason for the lack of preparedness that led to Pearl Harbor was the belief Japan could not project forces so far to the east.

    You may recall when the Japanese Imperial Army arrived in the city of Davao in the Phillipines on December 23, 1941 the colony of 18,000 ethnic Japanese living there (as long as ethnic Japanese in the West Coast) welcomed them with open arms. Many volunteered their services as scouts and translators for the invading forces.

    If Japanese-Filipinos with a history in the Philippines as long that of Japanese-Americans in America could so quickly side with the invading forces in Davao, who’s to say the same thing wouldn’t have happened on the West Coast?

    The history is a bit more complex than the “hysterical racist” line.

  13. If you want to read a fair and impartial book about one Japanese man’s experience during the evacuation, read “An Enemy Among Friends”. It is a beautiful book. Unfortunately Prof, Murata died in Tokyo last September. I’m glad his legacy is remembered in his book.

    The Japanese American reparations acitivists hated him.

    Here is a comment he made some time ago:

    Professor Kiyoaki Murata, M.A.
    Yachiyo International University – Tokyo

    When Japanese naval forces struck Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, I was studying English at a private school in San Francisco, the Drew School. I had come to America six months earlier as a student, not knowing, of course, that war was coming.

    The Western Defense Command, headquartered in the Presidio of San Francisco, declared a 75-mile coastal strip from Washington through Oregon to California as Military Zone Number 1, from which all persons of Japanese ancestry were to be evacuated before the end of March 1942. I moved out of this zone to Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley. In a few months, however, the Army ordered the evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from all of California, the western half of Oregon and Washington and from the lower one-third of Arizona.

    If I had gone to, for instance, the Middle West during the very first months of 1942, I would not have been affected by the Army policy. Along with people from Visalia and vicinities, therefore, I went to a war relocation center at Poston, Arizona, which had been hastily built in the desert. The summer I spent there was the hottest I had ever experienced. But food in the mess hall was plentiful. School classes were provided for youngsters of all grades. Some Japanese residents formed a kabuki group to stage classical numbers.

    My intellectual life in the Arizona desert was not a total loss – I was able to improve my English because I taught Japanese to Nisei residents by using English as medium of instruction.

    From the very beginning of this camp life, I did not expect I would have to live in the desert until the end of the war, which I am sure no one knew when it would end. Eight months later, the U.S. Government announced that any able-bodied person, citizen or alien, could leave a relocation center for gainful employment outside. I was one of the first to take advantage of this new policy.

    When I went around the barracks to say good-bye to older campmates, one of them was puzzled and said, “Why do you leave here? This is the best (safest) place.” I laughed and said I could not afford to sit idle there because I had come to America to study in school.

    I began my freshman year in June 1943 in Chicago and completed requirements for a B.A. degree from Carleton College in January 1946. I also earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago before returning to Japan in 1948.

    In Japan, I worked with The Japan Times, the oldest and largest English language daily newspaper published in Japan, for thirty-three years. I ended my career there as its Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director.

    Currently, I am professor of “media English” and International Communication at Yachiyo International University.

    In 1991, Kodansha Publishers, (Tokyo & New York) published my book titled, An Enemy Among Friends

    Kiyoaki Murata
    October 7, 1994
    Tokyo, Japan

  14. According to the NYTimes… (figures released by several Asian American community groups actually show the Asian American community voting 74% for Democrats in 2004.)

    White – D/41 R/58 O/0
    Black – D/88 R/11 O/0
    Latino – D/56 R/43 O/2
    Asian – D/58 R/41 O/0

    White – D/42 R/54 O/3
    Black – D/90 R/8 O/1
    Latino – D/67 R/31 O/2
    Asian – D/54 R/41 O/4

    White – D/43 R/46 O/9
    Black – D/84 R/12 O/4
    Latino – D/72 R/21 O/6
    Asian – D/43 R/48 O/8

    White – D/39 R/40 O/20
    Black – D/83 R/10 O/7
    Latino – D/61 R/25 O/14
    Asian – D/31 R/55 O/15

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