After Jim Romenesko picked up our story about a racist report in the Montezuma Record, its publisher and editor in chief Chuck Dunham shrugged off the controversy, explaining that he wasn’t even aware of it because he didn’t use the internet. Yesterday, the Cedar Rapids Gazette published more thoughts from Dunham, who continued to dismiss charges of racism over his suggestions that a disproportionate number of “orientals” and people named Ahmed receive high salaries at the University of Iowa.
“I don’t know just what to suggest the agitators look at that would give them more satisfaction and be more useful to society,” Dunham, who has been in the small-town newspaper game since 1958, told the Gazette. “It’s too early to tell them to go weed the garden, but that would be a pretty good thing for them to do”
The Progressive broke the news after GOP state Rep. David Maxwell, who lives near Montezuma in Gibson and advertises his local business in the paper, requested that members of the Iowa House receive copies of the paper to see the salary report. Maxwell didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Gazette or Progressive.
The Record wrote in its report that “The relatively high numbers of employees with names from Asia and the Near East is interesting. While there are SMiths and Jones, there are eleven Ahmeds to only 30 Browns,” and that “Hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names may get you the big bucks.”
“In lily-white Iowa it does seem they are over-represented compared to the rest of the population. Does it mean Orientals are being educated to a degree that they outshine the rest of the natives of Iowa?” Dunham asked the Gazette. “I haven’t got the answer, but I noted the anomaly.”
Dunham said he wasn’t worried about losing any subscribers over the report. He also claimed that his paper is the only in Iowa to publish salary reports from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, even though several papers (including the Gazette) do so — a fact apparent after a quick Google search.
As for Dunham’s prejudice against hyphenated names? “It’s a problem for a newspaperman,” he told the Gazette, because while they are fashionable they make alphabetizing lists difficult.