Montezuma Record Publishes Racist Report on U of I Salaries (Updated)

March 14th, 2013 · 4 Comments

UPDATE II, Friday, March 15, 1:09 p.m.: Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic told the Progressive that GOP state Rep. Dave Maxwell, who represents Poweshiek County, requested that House members receive a copy of Thursday’s Record, which is how the paper ended up in Des Moines. Maxwell owns a business in Gibson called Maxwell Tiling, which ran an advertisement in the paper. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but we’ll update the story if he does.

UPDATE, Friday, March 15, 9:48 a.m.: Record editor in chief Chuck Dunham didn’t reply to the Progressive’s request for comment, but he did return a call from Jim Romenesko, who picked up our story on his media blog. Dunham told Romenesko this morning that he was unaware of the controversy, which was also picked up by Gawker, because he doesn’t use the internet (no big surprise, considering his paper doesn’t have a website). “I only deal with what’s on paper,” Dunham said. Asked about his paper’s “Hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names” remark, he replied that it “is a clue to what’s to be found there” and saw nothing wrong with it. Asked about Matt Denner’s petition demanding an apology, he replied, “If they want to write me a letter, that’s fine; I only deal with what’s on paper,” and then hung up on Romenesko.

ORIGINAL STORY: Des Moines resident Matt Denner made an interesting discovery this morning flipping through the Montezuma Record, a small weekly newspaper in Poweshiek County. A report listing the employees at the University of Iowa who earn at least $100,000 was introduced by noting, “The relatively high numbers of employees with names from Asia and the Near East is interesting. While there are SMiths [sic] and Jones, there are eleven Ahmeds to only 30 Browns.”

Later in the report, the paper astutely observed, “Hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names may get you the big bucks”:

Denner has launched a petition on Credo Action, the progressive activism arm of the San Francisco-based phone company Credo Mobile, calling for an apology from Chuck Dunham, publisher and editor in chief of the Record. The report, Denner wrote, “included comments that are hard to read as anything but racist and disgusting.”

The mockery of (presumably) foreign names as “unspellable” aside, journalism stylebooks typically advise to refer to people from East Asia as “Asians” rather than “Orientals,” which can be considered offensive.

According to the Iowa Newspaper Association, the Record has a circulation of 884 and readership of 1,768. The paper’s Facebook page refers to it as “[a]rguably one of the rarest newspapers in Iowa.” Montezuma, an hour and a half drive southeast of Ames, is a town of about 1,500 people.

Dunham has not responded to a request for comment. We’ll update the story if he does.

Tags: Ames Prog Blog · Gavin Aronsen

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Fred Pottger // Mar 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I only have information about the article that was available here. The information does not have the full context so comments can be speculative, stupid, or maybe based on some truth. I am an American Mutt and I was adopted by people from “Monte” 40 years ago while one leave and visiting with my Commrade in Arms family. Guess what we are still friends today and we live half way across the country. Why don’t you pick up some good news about Americans and stop defending Immigrants who take offense at everything we do. If the Articles was racist which nobody here can attest to because the paper doesn’t have a website. Oh someone else put it up on line? Give me a break. You must think all Americans are stupid. We are not we are wide awake and we are a country of immigrants and we know we have a variety of backgrounds that sometimes clash but for the most part get along . How Many Boys and Girls From Monte or the county for that matter have served this country and now their racist! Racism is a function of Leadership or lack thereof. Immigrants should show a willingness to assimilate some of our good values and not just the value of the dollar. Stop polarizing Americans and start paying attention to poor leadership and expose it for what it is. What’s the matter your pen is only mighty when you attack a town of 1500 Americans. Let’s see you go after the ruling class tough guy. I am praying for your wisdom to come out. May God Bless You and Forgive us all for our sins.

  • 2 Fred Pottger // Mar 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I just wanted to add this to the above . I have a good
    friend that immigrated here from Asia many years ago. His port of entry I believe was Chicago and ended up going to the University of Iowa and living their with his parents. He lives in New York now many many years. We talk about Iowa and the Farmers and the people and he says to me from his heart that if he had to do it all over again he would have stayed in Iowa because the people he met treated him so nice he couldn’t believe it. He said I have to watch out for my own kind to do me wrong. Now what does that say. It says regardless of the background of people most are good, but many are not so nice. Not so nice sells papers,media whatever, so now you have some real information.

  • 3 Learn how to proof read // Mar 16, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Fred your comments are hilarious. You should assimilate some intelligence.

  • 4 Derek DeVries // Mar 18, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Fred –

    Actually, sociological studies have shown current immigrants to the United States are assimilating to the culture at the same rate or faster than previous generational waves of immigrants.

    The US has a long history of assimilating immigrant culture and values as well – we just celebrated an Irish holiday over the weekend. Tolerating St. Patty’s day hasn’t destroyed ‘Merica. Tolerating Ramadan or the Dongzhi Festival won’t either.

    Since you’re apparently clueless about why this story was offensive: featuring an analysis of a salary study focused on the non-Anglo names (and going so far as to point out that they’re not Anglo names) is racist. The implicit conclusion is that “those people” are taking away well-paying jobs from white people who “deserve” them (which is racist).

    Why are these things racist? Two reasons:

    One – the ignorant assumption ignores the possibility that these professors may be naturalized citizens who grew up in the US all their lives and that they studied hard in specialized academic areas that are valuable and important.

    Two – the ignorant assumption also ignores the possibility that these individuals were recruited from elsewhere to fill much-needed gaps in some areas of research or education.

    Your lone anecdote about one person who was treated well (face to face) in “Monte” doesn’t square with a town that didn’t blink when this sort of inflammatory racist pablum was circulated.

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