Yang's side includes empiricism, too. See: Yang's mention of published research that was not considered in the Radiolab piece, especially that by Dr. Mirocha. Here's a hit of empiricism for you: there is no actual conclusion as to where Yellow Rain came from. There is evidence missing and, as of yet, no certainty about how Yellow Rain was produced. Analysis of raw, --empirical-- data has been contested. Just take a look at the Wikipedia article on Yellow Rain. It chronicles the debate and shows you just how many holes there are in the data. Yang's point is that the Hmong side of the data was ignored, glossed over, handled dismissively. It's not that the white U.S. folks have the empirical data vs. the Hmong with their personal experience.
And, by the way, personal experience actually can count as empirical data. Empirical data actually means information acquired by observation using any of the 5 senses, which is what Eng Yang provided the Radiolab interviewers with.
You have to admit, she obviously experienced it as racist. To her, the reason why she and her uncle were not treated with respect was racism. Doesn't that matter, that she experienced it that way? Who are we to argue with her experience? Gosh, that's what she's saying all along. Just hear my experience...just let my voice be heard. You don't have to believe it. Why would we bother to argue with her point by point?? It is enough to let her voice and her experience be heard!!
"This is racism, pure and simple, and it must stop."
It will stop when people stop supporting politicians that support admission based on anything other than merit.
I will correct you on one point: Stop the use of the term "deserve". If you support admission on merit, then you EARNED your way in.
For the people here who are saying that this act is not racist, in ways like "Not racism, more like horrible lack of empathy" or "Using a term like racism out of context in an attempt to stir up more outrage or garner more sympathy is just as offensive as misusing the term holocaust or genocide.," may I ask you what exactly is your definition of racism? What is the context it should be used in?
I regret that I was unaware of the story of the Hmong people and the persecution they faced until I heard about it on Radiolab. This is another chapter of history that has been swept under the rug, another example of the terrible price of the Cold War between America and the Soviets -- a price that we too often have failed to acknowledge in the West because it did not cost us personally. Now I find that there is a whole chapter of this story that I had not even heard about. I don't know whether to be more embarrassed at my own ignorance or at our government for failing to honor the sacrifices of the Hmong people on our behalf.
I did not hear the original Radiolab broadcast, only the doctored version that aired later on the podcast, but even then I was angered by the way Robert treated you and your niece. I am a scientist myself, and so the idea of objective truth is important to me, but the way he behaved was shameful and discounted the very real, objective experiences of you and your people. It is deeply upsetting to me that he and the rest of the Radiolab team still have not apologized appropriately for their conduct.
In spite of the distorted and shameful way it was handled, I am glad that I listened to the episode and heard your story. It opened my eyes to a part of history of which I had been ignorant, and one with important lessons for us as a country. You helped me to share, in a small way, the story of your people. I will not forget it.
If they did, perhaps it was just an alternate reality version of themselves where they actually display some resemblance of human cognition rather than simply projecting their own issues into the comments section. But if such a person exists in linearity with the persons that comment in this reality, why can't we have them instead? Or would the merging of these separate timelines result in space-time collapse?
Amusing piece, Mic. You put flowers on the grave of this silly controversy.
First off, the content of the radiolab segment in question here is a near perfect exeplification of one of modernity's greatest hindrances: the conflict between empericism and individual perception. Uncle Eng "knows" that chemical weapons were used on his people in the post-Vietnam War era because of personal experience and a community narrative that confirms the objective truth of yellow rain. Jad and Robert "know" that there were no chemical weapons used on the Hmong people in the post-Vietnam War era because there is no emperical evidence for this assertion. And so the question becomes that of persuasiveness, do you the listener and reader find yourself more compelled to believe a passionately recounted first hand description or that of research that is conducted in a scientifically methodological manner? Do you believe in God because you "feel" sure that there is some sort of extra-physical force of order within the Universe, or do you reject the existence of God because again, it's an assertion for which there is no emperical evidence. Ghosts? UFO Sightings? The quote of Ms. Yang's that demonstrates this divide quite well is when she says that Robert and Jad engage in "the privileging of Western education over indigenous knowledge." If most readers of this article could agree to privilege the core-tenets of the western, academic canon over say, those of fundamentalist Islam and eugenicism, why not privilege it over a particular group's interpretation of a historical event that has no corroborating evidence aside from
Which leads me to my other point. Accusing Radiolab of racism in this instance is hysteria-driven and a purely ad-hominem attack. I wish that I could convey how much damage is done to meaningful causes through the lexical adoption and casual usage of words like 'racist,' 'sexist', 'classist' etc. From the mouth of a far left ideologue, they generally seem to mean 'bad' and 'does not comport with my analysis.'
Affirmative Action is the only law in the USA that is still actively and openly racist against a specific group, in this case Asian Americans. Joshua, I'm very happy for you, and I'm glad things worked out for you. But think about all of the Asian Americans with a better resume than you (yes, including extracurricular activities) from a disadvantaged background who were denied admission because of this law. Think about this: with affirmative action, the son/daughter of a poor Asian family living in Chinatown, with the father working as a dishwasher and mother working as a house cleaner, has a lower chance of getting into UT than a black/hispanic son/daughter living in Beverly Hills, whose father is a doctor and mother has a lawyer. This is racism, pure and simple, and it must stop.
I mean, you seem pretty awesome to me. Wouldn't the destruction of the universe be worth the few minutes of brilliant, tongue-in cheek discussion you might have?
I am also curious as to how far you can go with yourself before paradox kicks in. I mean, maybe second base is ok? Maybe if you stop just short of actual asexual reproduction? Worth looking into.
Are you so cynical as to think a woman would calculatingly use the death of her unborn baby to inspire sympathy for herself? You sound like Krulwich when he interpreted her emotional reaction as an attempt to manipulate. Both backhandedly brushing off her emotional response to the situation and insinuating she has selfish intentions. She was not trying to insinuate that Radiolab was a contributing factor in anyway to her miscarriage. Most people understand that when you lose a child you somehow have to try to come to peace with what's happened. Her piece let's you know this incident is not insignificant.To Radiolab it was an interview gone wrong that's probably caused them some headache and at most regret for their reputation. But for Kalia and her uncle Eng it hit close to home.
So sorry for your and your husbands loss. Also for your uncle's and your experience with NPR. I hope you and he will write more about those times, also about the Hmong experience in the US. It is a valuable history.
I just wanted to say that I cried with you when I heard you on the radio.
Due to my own experiences, I think it's very easy for uninvolved people to talk about traumatic events in a cold and dismissive way. I also think this comes from a place of privilege. People who haven't had these experiences often think they can have opinions and sometimes even tell you their opinions are more valid, because they see things objectively. But this is not true. Part of the reason wars and genocide are important in our history is the huge emotional impact they have on the population. You can't study or analyse events like these without taking feelings into account. If war and genocide did not create trauma and psychological wounds, they wouldn't be nearly as relevant as they are.
Your interviewers may have had a scientific reason to do what they did. But they forgot empathy. Even before hearing you react, I felt they were using your suffering to prove their completely unrelated point. This is the kind of behavior that feeds the stereotype of the cold, calculating scientist.
I am not sure it was racism, though. I think the issues here are a massive lack of empathy and tact, not to mention dishonesty, because they should have told you what the purpose of the interview was.
A reporter was an insensitive jerk who came to a story with an angle and some preconceived notions (how's that for novelty?) - and then spun the story in post-production to give it the slant . . . and that's racist because . . . the interviewer is caucasian and the interviewee is asian?
Using a term like racism out of context in an attempt to stir up more outrage or garner more sympathy is just as offensive as misusing the term holocaust or genocide.
I'm a big fan of MMA, Boxing and Wrestling. I've been into lots of live fights in these categories. This December it would be more interesting to watch the marquez vs pacquiao 4 and I've already reserved a ticket for this. I sensed something great in your video and photography project.
She did not blame anyone for her miscarriage. As a writer and as a women who had to endure such an emotional and horrific ordeal, she was putting into perspective her emotions at the time. As someone who had a miscarriage myself, it helps to talk about it. The pain is real.
I had meant to mention this in my last post. While the interview did not meet Ms Yang's satisfaction, it is not an all is lost situation.
Radiolab did the broadcast and keeps a podcast available. They did include a discussion of the interview and story. More know about the situation after that broadcast than before. More know about the Hmong after the broadcast than before. Uncle Eng has created a record that says this event did occur.
Someone "out there" who hears the story from someone's else's mouth may recall the Radiolab report and may investigate further.
Many investigations are conducted from the most inauspicious of starts.
Also, this post from Matthew Salesses is an incisive critique of Radiolab's response, as well as good overview of the MPR comments.
I didn't say such a scenario could not exist. Certainly it could. I'm just saying that you and I are not in a position to identify it.
Thanks for linking to this, Mina. I'd be very interested to hear what people have to say in response.
My initial, extremely glib reaction: Radiolab needs to hire better PR people!
My much longer reaction to one of Mr. Capello's points:
In part three of his rebuttal, responding to "the accusation that Radiolab refuses the statement submitted by Kalia Yang", Dean Capello writes:
"Kalia initially sent Pat a very kind email. The email praises Pat for the powerful balancing of perspectives.
A day later, when the team asked her permission to run her response, she declined and followed up with a very different response. Our team evaluated her criticisms openly and honestly.
And Robert's public apology was a response to her note.
The comments section of the website reflected a wide range of viewpoints, including, within days, comments posted by Kalia's husband that voiced her concerns."
Four questions this raises in my head:
(1) How do some of Kalia's sentiments being echoed by her husband in some comments, at all refute the accusation that Radiolab refused to publish Yang's criticism of their segment? People can say whatever they want in the comments to this article, and as long as the comments aren't outrageously homophobic, racist, etc, they'll be allowed through. That is a completely different thing than Hyphen putting up their statements in an article, and that Mr. Capello is conflating the two is disingenuous at best.
(2) I'm not going to touch on the accuracy of Mr. Capello's portrayal of Ms. Yang's initial email, both because I haven't read it, and I don't find it relevant. (Others are, of course, more than free to disagree with me on this point, and address it directly.) What I will touch on, because I find it immensely intriguing, is this. Robert Krulwich's multiple clarifications and justifications have all been published, put on the podcast, edited and put on the podcast again, etcetc.
When offered the same platform, Ms. Yang sends a response that, as can be seen in her article above, talks incisively about the underlying power imbalances that come to play in the podcast. This response is never published because initially she sent Pat "a very kind email". Yet how is her initial communication being more positive, enough to disqualify her later criticism from being valid?
Listening to Radiolab's Yellow Rain podcast, it seemed to me that the show was alarmingly backwards on both race and gender issues. For one thing, it doesn't take a PhD scientist, or several months of reviewing academic papers, to know that one of the most pervasive and damaging stereotypes in our society is that of women being naturally irrational, emotional, conniving, indecisive, manipulative, etc. Sometimes all it takes is turning on the TV, and realizing how disproportionately few women occupy positions of authority.
Radiolab's editing of the Yellow Rain story, and Mr. Krulwich's dismissal of Ms. Yang's perspective as an emotionally manipulative attempt to wrest control of said story, among other things, seemed to draw upon and resonate with such sexist undercurrents. Yet it seems that instead of realizing this, Radiolab is seeking to once again justify it, and in doing so drawing upon some of those same undercurrents.
(3) A corollary to the point above: Instead of putting up Ms. Yang's words, Radiolab chose to put up Mr. Krulwich's reaction to her words. And they're using the fact that they've done this... to support their arguments that they haven't neglected her viewpoint, haven't deemed Mr. Krulwich's thoughts and reactions and truths more important and valid at every turn, that they've always been fair and balanced in presenting all viewpoints to their listeners without prejudice.
I find it rather remarkable that we're presented with contrary evidence here that manages to so thoroughly contradict itself and support the opposing viewpoint.
(4) This is a very obvious point, but Mr. Capello at least seems to have missed it, so: that Radiolab generously offers to post a statement by an interviewee that praises the show, yet is totally unwilling when the interviewee submits something critical instead -- does not say very good things about the show and its open-mindedness and receptiveness to criticism!
There's a lot to unpack in Mr. Cappello's rebuttal, and this comment has already become rather long. I might come back later if I have time, and I hope that others will also step in and air their opinions.
Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is really important to hear the whole story behind the manipulated version. I'm sorry it was such a painful experience. If there is any way I can help-- I would love to start a petition?-- please let me know. Best, lily
"The candidates both agree that China is the greatest economic rival of the US and the easiest punching bag"
With good reason. In a world of free trade low cost producers can do severe damage to nations like the US, Europe and Japan.
There are only 2 alternatives:
1) Drive China's costs up
2) Radically reduce everyone else's costs.
"The sudden attention on China is reminiscent of the 1980s, when Japan was the source of angst for many in the US due to the dominance of Japanese cars and electronics."
I remember the Japanese saying to us "Lazy Americans! Just work harder!". The Japanese didn't appreciate what the cheap yen did for them. Now that they are competing against China with it's low value currency, they realize hard work is not enough. Japanese workers stand by helplessly as they watch their jobs go to China. Like their US counterparts Japanese graduates leave college with degree in hand to find they can't get anything but burger flipping jobs. The Japanese government predicted by next year the country will be living off their capital investments as they will start seeing continual merchandise trade deficits. Part of me wants to laugh yet I feel a bit of sympathy for them.
The US is bettered position than Japan, we are still rich in resources that can feed basic industries where Japan is not so well positioned. The US's problem is we have a social/political class that wants to snuff out these prime businesses because they are seen as so yesterday,
Ross Perot was not incorrect when he said the great sucking sound of jobs going to Mexico (in fairness it's not only China).
"when the Chinese government removed the currency’s peg to the dollar."
Officially, unpegged. Unofficaily, still pegged. Chinese currency trades within a relatively narrow range.
"Once elected, neither candidate can do much by punishing China, because the US stands to lose tremendously if a trade war broke out."
Romney is right on this one, we trade a little to them, they trade a lot to us. The US would sustain some damage, China's economy would implode. Nothing strikes fear into Beijing like the thought of millions of unemployed wandering aimlessly around the country,
The issue of trade and it's effect on the economy is fairly complex. The free trade/international trade argument was always faulty on it's face, you can not run billions of dollars of trade deficits year after year after year and expect to have a healthy economy with high wage jobs. Eventually these deficits will work their way up the economic ladder and many experts that write about the wonderfulness of trade theory will see their positions cut and eliminated as there is no economy left to sustain the expense of keeping them.
I deal with some Chinese companies. There is NO WAY American companies can compete against their cost structure. If you want to compete against Chinese companies, you will have to move your factories to China. Some heavy, bulky and expensive to ship items can be made here, but Apple will not be building Iphones in South Carolina anytime soon.
I do not blame China or the Chinese, I would expect their government to do what ever their government can for them. Even if their government likes to beat up it's citizens, jail protesters and steal poor people's homes, Beijing still works to make sure the general population is well fed and clothed. China's government is doing exactly what it should be doing for it's people.
On the other hand, Americans are stuck with weak, pandering politicians put into place by a well moneyed class that benefits from trade. One reason I like Romney is his we trade a little with them, they trade a lot with us comments. You can be sure Beijing finds that troubling beyond belief and hopefully he'll play some serious poker/hardball with China, they do have more to lose.
"the unintended effect could be a spike in nativist, us-versus-them sentiments at home"
I am surprised it has taken this long for a post like this to show up.
Seeing this as a possibility, I realized there was a money making opportunity here, selling American flag lapel pins with the inscription "Made In America" on them to Chinese, Japanese and Korean Americas. A deluxe model that plays "I'm A Yankee Doddle Dandy" is possible. I am waiting for quotes from some Chinese vendors now.
I do not think anyone has fired up this board like you have.
Regarding Kirti Kamjob's comments:
"than the racism/sexism/etc being called out and critiqued."
When racism becomes an everyday everything event, it evolves into meaninglessness. The race hobbyist ends up marginalizing the very thing they hope to stop.
"in drawing attention to the many affects of underlying hierarchies (not just of racism, but through intersectionality,"
I think you bumped up against the real issue. The host had to choose between a man who literally walked out of the jungle vs men with big expensive lab equipment.
In the dynamic of the Post 1970's Liberal/Progressive world, credentials mean a lot and the more degrees the more infallible the degree holder becomes. Real world experience is nice, but the guy with the PhD simply can not be wrong. Add Harvard to the mix and you have infallibility the Pope himself could not hope to attain.
You drop a case of beer on your foot, you say damn that hurts. If a professor from a name school writes a 20 page paper on it, it certainly must be so. Despite more than abundant evidence to the contrary, the experts are never wrong.
The hosts sounded more suited to doing a Hollywood red carpet story than a thoughtful expose on the Hmong. The story should have been given more time considering the very serious charges of genocide. Back ground on the Hmong, their work with the United States and events that followed should have been more detailed. 20 minutes was simply not enough to do the issue justice.
For those who moan about evidence, if you ever have false charges placed against you, you will learn to love evidence that exonerates you. The Hmong lodged serious charges against Vietnam, solid evidence is needed to support that claim. What does work in their favor is unless suffering mass delusion large groups of people do not make up such charges.
As for "ism's" they'll always be around though the players change and the issues become musical chairs.. During the great Chick-Fil-A dust up, it was most amusing to see a Chinese-American mayor practicing exclusion, A study of human history shows one thing, nothing ever really changes.
Here's a pretty detailed response from RadioLab. Sounds like Kalia might have gotten a couple things wrong?
I haven't come across Judith Butler before, so can't comment on the specific example you're bringing up. However, I do feel that there are some common straw man arguments being set up in the discussion over institutional racism.
Can someone misuse the framework of structural inequalities and systemic oppression (from which the concept of institutional racism arises)? Yes, but that is true of most things. However, that doesn't negate the fact that this framework is very powerful in drawing attention to the many affects of underlying hierarchies (not just of racism, but through intersectionality, also of sexism, classism, etc). Saying that at times it can be misused, so therefore this framework is not just utterly baseless but also dangerous, seems a logical leap equivalent to saying that sometimes medical drugs can be abused, so in conclusion they're not only ineffective but dangerous. It also presupposes that the act of calling someone a racist/sexist/etc is much more damaging, and has much greater negative social, political, and economic repercussions, than the racism/sexism/etc being called out and critiqued. In other words, one of the unexamined assumptions embedded in your criticism is that those with the privileges being called out, in this case through racial hierarchies, matter more than those without.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!