In the same week that freshman Congressman Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) launched a racially tinged assault against his Asian-American opponent, accusing her of “working to advance the cause of a hostile asian power”, troubling photos emerged of Rouda’s college fraternity holding annual parties with horrifically racist themes and props during his time as an active member of the fraternity.
The University of Kentucky’s Delta Tau Fraternity played host to these controversial, Vietnam war-themed parties from 1980 through Rouda’s graduation in 1984.
The disturbing images remain publicly viewable on the fraternity’s alumni Facebook page along with their congratulatory posts about Rouda’s 2018 congressional victory.
When given the chance to address these images by media, Rouda has refused to comment nor condemn these parties.
Many of Rouda’s classmates however have spoken out against these racist themed parties as not just insulting to Asian Americans but also to American service men and women.
“does not escape us that students on college campuses, and fraternity and sorority members by extension sat out the war on deferments leaving the actual fighting to blacks, Hispanics and whites with neither money nor connections. We are thus not surprised that these same kind of people now celebrate a human slaughter with a beer blast.”
- The Kentucky Kernel, University Newspaper, 1983
This all comes at an inopportune time for Rouda who is seeking reelection in a county with over 200,000 Vietnamese residents and a much larger, growing Asian American population.
Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Rouda’s opponent, Michelle Steel, has called on Congressman Rouda to apologize to the local Vietnamese community and explain his involvement in these “parties”:
“Harley Rouda owes an apology and explanation as to why he would condone and attend racist parties that denigrated our Vietnamese families,” Steel said. “I know first-hand the struggles immigrants in our country face when coming to America – parties like these perpetuate stereotypes and racism that we work every day to stop.”
Compounding the trouble for Rouda are recent political advertisements launched on his behalf on Vietnamese media using low-quality translations with numerous pronunciation errors inviting accusations that Rouda is pandering to the community and doing so with minimal effort.
[This article will be updated if and when Congressman Rouda’s addresses this issue.]