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The Back Burner

We Do Not Apologize!

Image Source: Bacteria-Animal Symbiosis Site at University of Conneticut http://sp.uconn.edu/~mcbstaff/graf/AvHm/AvHmsymbiosis.htm
Political discourse worthy of Hirudo medicinalis.

The Cornell Daily Sun is usually so averse to controversy that in recent years, it had considered its op/ed staff too liberal for Cornell’s tastes — and, like a Renaissance doctor, opted to hire an eclectic combination of radical conservatives, vacuous Long Islanders and self-centered sex columnists on its op/ed roster to balance this campus’ Aristotelian fluids. And as usual, intelligent political commentary was the true victim. The only uproar The Sun has been able to stir up in recent months has been through its not covering issues of controversy, or alternatively, publishing corrosive conservative tripe fit only for the pages of the old Cornell Review of Joe Sabia fame. TL Staffers have mulled over officially recommending that the Sun change its motto to ‘WE DO NOT APOLOGIZE!’

Recently this trend has been reversed, but alas, the causes of the nation’s oldest college daily’s recent hullabaloo were the same tactless editorial decisions and aimless, unintelligent and uninformed leadership that have become CDS trademarks. The Sun’s editorial board decided it was appropriate to publish an article on the front page of its March 11 issue about mental health issues of Asian and Asian-American Cornellians while also printing an episode of Stephen Davis ’08’s comic which played off of the very Asian stereotypes cited as causes for concern in the news report.

Certainly, Stephen Davis, a TL contributor and oftentimes cartoonist, is no racist. In fact, the talented freshman had enough tact to apologize for (in his words) his ‘inappropriate’, ‘insensitive’ and ‘ignorant’ comic to a variety of members of the Cornell community, in particular individuals who voiced their concerns about the juxtaposition of the comic and the news article in the first place. Davis made clear that he believed he erred in the decision to create the comic, apart from its simultaneous publication with the Asian mental health news story.

But the Daily Sun, being what it is, refused to apologize for the error of judgment, and in fact published an editorial defending its decision to run the equivalent of an article on black stereotypes next to a cartoon drawn by staffers at The Cornell American entitled ‘UNQUALIFIED!’ The April 5 editorial claimed that comics are meant to encourage ‘conversation and commentary’. Funny, but TL Staffers thought that comics were for a laugh. In any case, The Sun didn’t comment on the fact that it had disdainfully published the comic and the news article at the same time. Presumably that, and not a simple apology, was in the interests of ‘conversation and commentary’, too.

Adding insult to injury, at a rally against Asian stereotypes on campus prompted by the March 11 issue of the Sun, former Sun Editor in Chief Andy Guess ’05 and current Business Manager Christopher Mitchell ’05 decided they had had enough! These two courageous leaders of political discourse on campus led a counter-protest at the rally, holding a sign that read ‘The only stereotype being reinforced is that Asians have no sense of humor’. Actually, the only stereotype propagated here at Cornell is that we are in desperate need of a new staff at The Daily Sun. If it’s any consolation, we at TL share the embarrassment.

CORRECTION: The printed version of this article stated that Daily Sun Managing Editor Eric Finkelstein '06 led the counter-protest against those questioning The Sun's editorial decision. Business Manager Christopher Mitchell '05, not Finkelstein, participated in the counter-protest with Andy Guess '05.

Created January 15, 2008 by Andrew Garib and Wayne Huang | Last updated February 15, 2008