[Updated] Petitioners call for Iowa newspaper to apologize for racist comments

UPDATE: Read the salary list introduction and editor/publisher comments.


The Record of Montezuma, Iowa, on Thursday published the salaries of University of Iowa employees and noted that “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.” The weekly paper also said that “hyphenated, unspellable, and oriental names may get you the big bucks.”


Matt Denner writes: “Editor-in-chief Chuck Dunham owes an apology to not only people of color at the University of Iowa, but to the people of Montezuma and all of Iowa whose tolerant reputation he has besmirched. Mr. Dunham, it’s time to apologize for your paper’s racist and disgusting remarks.”

I’ve emailed and phoned Dunham for comment.

UPDATE 2: Dunham returned my call on Friday morning. He said he was unaware of the controversy because he doesn’t go online. (“I only deal with what’s on paper.”) The editor said he’s received only one call about the salaries list and that was from a state legislator “who was very pleased to see the four pages of names.”

Dunham said his comment about university employees with “hyphenated, unspellable and oriental names” getting large salaries “is a clue to what’s to be found there” in the list. He didn’t see a problem with it.

I started to tell him about the online petition demanding that he apologize, but he interrupted and said, “If they want to write me a letter, that’s fine; I only deal with what’s on paper. Thank you for calling.” He then hung up.

* Apologize for your paper’s racist comments, Chuck Dunham (credoaction.com | amesprogressive.org)