To the Editor:

As former president of the Hong Kong Club at Yale and a participant in a number of Asian American Students Association (AASA) committees and events, I witnessed four years of Asian-American activism at Yale. I had long ago come to the conclusion that at the core of this activism is deep-rooted insecurity. Insecurity based on topics ranging from the lack of Asian-American political issues, questions over Asian-American self-identity, and yes, perception of Asian male virility. The Yale Daily News joke issue column has garnered a fierce reaction because it brings to light these very insecurities.

This insecurity compels the leaders of the Asian-American community to react in a number of ways including ultrasensitivity about the portrayal of Asian-Americans in the media, an inability to tolerate dissenting opinions, the need to conjure up political issues, and attempts to cajole and guilt others into joining their cause.

During AASA executive committees meetings in April 1997, I saw the indignation that AASA leaders felt after a genuinely inoffensive cartoon cover appeared on the National Review which portrayed Al Gore and Bill Clinton in Chinese garb. I witnessed preparations for protests after AASA leaders discovered that the editor of the National Review, John O’Sullivan, would be speaking at the Yale Political Union. The protests would later lead to complaints of violence, the arrest of the AASA moderator and an admonishing article about the incident in The New York Times. One friend bragged to me about punching O’Sullivan in the stomach. I also recall being called “pathetic” by a fellow student after I declined to participate in the protest rally.

All the News needs apologize for is publishing an embarrassingly unfunny attempt at humor. In fact, the leaders of the Asian-American community should thank the News for giving them an opportunity to feel good about themselves again. It is, yet again, an opportunity to compel the Asian-American community to react. Asian-American leaders have had their presence felt on campus again — a temporary fix to much deeper insecurities.

Franklin Yao ’99

April 10, 2001