Yale Law School Students to Media: 'What the Actual F—!'

Asian-American student group says comparisons to Maoist China are 'offensively racist'

Yale Law School / Getty Images
October 20, 2021

Yale Law School's Asian-American student group has a message for the media: "What the actual fuck!"

In the wake of widespread coverage of the law school's treatment of Trent Colbert, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association on Oct. 19 sent a law school-wide email that blasts the "people in the media who chose to write stories painting the Federalist Society – a multi-million dollar organization – as a victim instead of centering the pain experienced by Black students [emphasis original]."

Especially offensive, the email said, was media coverage that compares "[Yale Law School] to Maoist reeducation camps"—a jab at the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, who joked that such camps "have nothing on Yale Law School."

"What the actual fuck!" the email exclaimed. "Not only is this offensively racist in and of itself to [Asian Pacific American Law Student Association] members, especially those of us with direct family who lived through the Cultural Revolution, it also distracts from and misleadingly reframes the core problem as one of 'free speech.' The problem is not free speech."

The Asian-American student group also declared its solidarity with Marina Edwards, the president of the Black Law Students Association, and the members of the Dred Scott Society—both of whom issued statements citing the Maoist intellectual Paulo Freire. Freire, best known for his work on "critical pedagogy," repeatedly praised the Cultural Revolution as a real-world application of his theories.

The Asian Pacific American Law Student Association did not respond to a request for comment.

The email is the latest in a series of statements by Yale Law School student groups, many of which have condemned Colbert by name. "We unequivocally condemn Trent Colbert's email for its anti-Black and racist language," the Asian-American affinity group wrote, echoing the language of the First Generation Professionals at Yale Law School. "Whether it was Trent's intention to do so is entirely beside the point – his words were racially pejorative and they deeply hurt Black people in our community."

"To move forward," the email added, "we must all acknowledge, reckon with, hold ourselves accountable to, and work together to never again replicate this harm."

All of the statements have praised Yaseen Eldik, the Yale Law School diversity director who implied that Colbert could have trouble with the bar's "character and fitness" investigations if he didn't apologize. "We especially want to uplift the work that Yaseen Eldik has undertaken to attempt to call Trent into a productive and critical discussion," the Asian-American student group said. During that discussion, Eldik told Colbert his membership in the Federalist Society had "triggered" his peers.

Some of those "triggered" students appear to be members of the Asian-American group. "Conservative pundits," the group said, "have invented a crisis of free speech in higher education as a way to distract from the substance of what they are doing in the world—accelerating the climate crisis, propping up the prison-industrial complex, eroding the rights of marginalized communities, deepening economic inequality, and waging perpetual war around the world."

The cochairs of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association board are Colette Le Brannan and Kyra Blas. The board's "Political Action Committee" includes Aaron Bryce Lee, Kevin Chen, Liz Jacob, and Raymond Fang.

Fwd Fw TheWall APALSA Board Statement Regarding Free Speech and Recent Events by Washington Free Beacon on Scribd