We, the Pacific and Asian Community Alliance, University of Oregon Vietnamese Student Association, University of Oregon Southeast Asian Student Alliance and allies, are writing to express our deep concerns regarding your statement on March 10th, 2016. When asked about your stance on the Syrian Refugee Crisis you replied, “We need to help people appropriately and we also need to not jeopardize ourselves and our citizens in the process.” You then gave an anecdote regarding how Vietnamese immigrants “created a huge problem because their culture and their lifestyle didn’t mix with ours…What ended up happening was they didn’t know how to heat their homes and started a fire in the living room in the middle of an apartment complex. When they needed something to eat, they went to their natural ways of doing it by harvesting people’s dogs and cats, their pets.”
You may be a “compassionate” person who “wants to help people” but that does not excuse your ignorant, racist and anti-refugee remark. Your statement perpetuates the false notion that Asians are stupid savages that “jeopardize” US society by willingly burning down apartment complexes and killing pets. It dehumanizes them as an uncivilized people while ignoring the struggles these refugees faced having been displaced from their homes due to war. This “foreigner” rhetoric is still repeated today: “fresh off the boat” to “dog eaters” stereotypes are continuously used to discriminate against Asians and portray them as unfit to be in America.
Your statement also ignores the positive impact and contributions made by Asian immigrants and refugees. Activists such as Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs have contributed to the civil rights movement to end discrimination and racial injustice. Tue Nguyen, Tuan Vo-Dinh, and Xuong Nguyen Hu are all Vietnamese American scholars that helped advance the fields of physics and AIDS research. Yet, you glossed over these facts and vilified a whole group of people in a derisive, negative light in order to caution against taking in Syrian refugees. You do not want more of “them” here. The “them” in this case being men, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives.
As the Pacific and Asian Community Alliance, University of Oregon Vietnamese Student Union, University of Oregon Southeast Asian Student Alliance and allies, we would like you to take ownership for your statements concerning Vietnamese refugees. We believe that your “apology” stated in the Register Guard article published on April 1st, 2016 is insufficient. There was not a single statement made by you in the article stating that you were sorry or why that is so. You saw that the posting of the short clip as an unfortunate occurrence of “dirty politics,” which cut out the context and “paint