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When will the Globe let us in on the secret?


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A couple of weeks ago, the Globe ran a story about how well some guy named Sam Yoon was doing in raising money for a city-council race. The story told us he's doing well raising money and that he's Asian. But for people like me, the story left out an important point: Why he's running. In that sense, the story fails just like the Globe's first story on Yoon, back in September, which discussed how excited Asians might get that he's running.

Today, Adrian Walker, who normally tells you why you should care about an issue, devotes his column to Yoon. Walker informs us that Yoon is Asian and that diversity is good. But beyond referring to some running battle involving a Chinatown parcel that Yoon wants the turnpike authority to sell to the community for $1, Walker once again fails to tell those of us who don't know anything about this guy why we should care.

Yoon may well be the cat's meow. But after two long articles, I still don't really have a clue why I should vote for him in the next city council election. In 2004, "diversity" isn't enough. As Walker himself says:

Ultimately, as he is the first to say, Yoon will succeed or fail on his own merits, regardless of who else is in the race.

If the Globe is going to devote so much ink to this guy, couldn't they spare a paragraph or two to tell the 99% of us who've never heard of Sam Yoon why he's running? And maybe they could spare a couple of column inches to considering whether all Asian-Americans will vote for him just because he's Asian-American? Isn't that kind of insulting, like saying all European-Americans would be excited by the candidacy of Michael Flaherty?


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Big Bri says (on December 20, 2004 07:52 PM):

Check Craigslist today... Yoon is looking for someone to film his campaign.

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adamg says (on December 20, 2004 08:48 PM):

Ah, yes, here it is:

It reads just like the Globe story (and the story in the Dorchester Reporter and in Sampan): Maybe he really is running just because he's Asian-American.

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Otter says (on December 21, 2004 04:06 PM):

Yeah, while far be it from me to pass up an opportunity to badmouth the Globe, I think the likeliest explanation is that they've told us everything there is to say.

Honestly, the need for a documentarian to chronicle his rise to glory probably tells you more about him than the Globe ever could.

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Chris S. says (on December 22, 2004 10:42 AM):

How about the fact that he is not an insider, is a strong advocate for affordable housing in Boston, and as a former teacher can be counted on to support education? If you're interested in his candidacy, maybe one should do some research on him, or better yet try and meet him in person, before developing your opinion.

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Susan says (on December 22, 2004 10:49 AM):

Yoon stands for making sure that the housing in Boston remains affordable. He has fought to prevent the city from becoming nothing but commercial buildings and high end condos.

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adamg says (on December 22, 2004 11:08 AM):

Finally, answers!

My complaint isn't with Yoon. It's with lazy reporters who don't provide even that modicum of information about the guy.

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Patriot says (on December 23, 2004 10:24 AM):

All the questions look like they were written by Yoon's friends and family.

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New England Resident. says (on January 1, 2005 08:17 PM):

Yea, I'm Italian American, and when the Italian Americans first came to Boston in The North End and East Boston a Centory ago No one voted for a Italian Immigrant because he was Italian. Same with the Irish, actually there were actually signs on stores saying, Irish Need not applied. So why should I vote for someone because he's Asian. I am very disapointed with the Globe.

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Chris S. says (on January 7, 2005 08:40 AM):

Yoon ethnicity will undoubtedly make his candidacy more, rather than less difficult. There are alot of people who will vote against a candidate based solely on whether the name seems "American" enough to them.

The Asian community has always been underrepresented politically. Tip O'Neil talks in his autobiography, Man of the House, about how a common trick used in Boston was the "Chinaman Hat Trick". Pols would hire a group of Chinese-Americans and give them a set of different hats, and then would cycle them through the voting booth, exchanging their hats each time. The Boston pols could get away with this trick because the Chinatown community was so disorganized politically.

So I think it is incorrect to make any assumption that things will be easy for Yoon, with regard to his ethnicity. To the contrary, he is facing a steep uphill struggle on that front. His prospects will be solely dependent on whether the city is willing to assess him on his positions, and ignore superficialities.

- Chris

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