Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael Friedly

Creator of Chang flier comes forward in letter

First Published: The Stanford Daily, Volume 197, Issue 65, 25 May 1990.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A former employee of the Recycling Center acknowledged Wednesday night that he had distributed posters attacking Gordon Chang, who has been offered a tenure-track professorship in the History Department at Stanford.

In “an open letter to the Stanford community” submitted to The Daily, Tom Terrell, who still lives in the area, explained his reasons for making the poster. He described his disillusionment with the politics of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, the organization of which he accused Chang of being a leader.

Since its distribution, the poster has come under heavy attack from members of the Asian-American community and others as being “McCarthyist” and racist.

Since the poster was distributed, members of the Asian-American community have made various statements strongly in favor of Chang as their choice for an Asian-American studies tenure-track position.

In a Wednesday letter to The Daily, outgoing Asian American Student Association chair Joseph Park and incoming AASA chair Edward Morimoto defended Chang’s qualifications for the position, based on his academic record. “Professors should be judged by their scholarship, not by smears about their supposed political lives,” the letter said.

Chang could not be reached for comment.

“For many years, I held socialism as an ideal: a better, more just society without disenfranchised people or great poverty,” Terrell said in his letter. But he said the democracy movement in Eastern Europe and his experiences with the League at Stanford “have combined to impel a thorough soul-searching and a drastic re-evaluation of my ideas.”

According to the letter, one of the reasons for publicizing his views in an open letter is that “everybody and their orthodontist has been talking about this subject lately.”

In a rambling style that characterized an earlier paper he wrote on the League titled “Maoism on the Farm” and the poster attacking Chang, the letter attacks a number of other Stanford students and staff members who he alleges are members of the League.

“This letter is going to embarrass and anger certain people on this campus, but they should take a good look in the mirror and face the fact that they have only themselves to blame for the discomfort this is going to cause them,” the letter said.

The letter was submitted to The Daily Wednesday night and was also posted in several residences around campus.

According to the letter, one source of “inner turmoil” for Terrell was an incident in which the League allegedly expelled a Stanford student from its ranks because she was a lesbian. Terrell said he learned of her expulsion in a “casual conversation” in which he was also told of a reported provision in League bylaws that excludes gays and lesbians.

It is unknown whether such a provision actually exists. The student who was allegedly expelled could not be reached for comment.

In a League publication titled “Peace, Justice, Equality and Socialism,” the League sets forth its policy on homosexuality in two points after 24 pages about the rights of people of color.

The two points are “the right to livelihood and housing” and “an end to police harassment.”

Gay and lesbian rights “is at best a peripheral part of their agenda,” according to Richard Suh, a former AASA chair who said he was recruited by the League. Suh said that the homophobic image of the League was one of the reasons he decided against joining.

In the letter, Terrell said another incident that made him disillusioned with the League was a rally last spring sponsored by the Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford in support of the student democracy movement in China. Terrell said he was struck by the almost complete absence of League members from the rally.

The League has traditionally been in support of the Chinese government and its policies. However, the League condemned the June 4 massacre of student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, saying the crackdown was “not in the spirit of socialism” in an editorial printed in Unity newspaper, a League publication.

Terrell was adamant in not apologizing for his public attack on Chang, saying the poster “expresses what I think of him.”