Words Hurt – Karen Women Demand an Apology from Foreign Policy magazine

A Tweet from James Palmer, deputy editor of Foreign Policy has provoked outrage among ethnic Karen community groups. Palmer’s critics accuse him of comparing the derogatory term ‘Karen’ - used to scorn entitled Western women – with ethnic Karen women.

The letter from the ethnic Karen women acknowledges Palmer may have been attempting to be funny, but criticized his execution and choice of subject.

“It was most certainly offensive and not in the least amusing. He has trampled on the ethnicity and lived experience of women who are living under an oppressive military dictatorship.”

Karen women and people of Myanmar have taken to Twitter and written to Foreign policy demanding an apology for Palmer’s Tweet.

“Displeasure is an understatement for the standard that has been set by a Deputy Editor at Foreign policy – a respected publication. Please immediately issue an apology to the Karen Women and the Myanmar community and censure Mr Palmer for his shameful tweet.”

Ethnic Karen voiced their concerns about Palmer’s on social media – “He knows too well the difference between ‘Karen’ used in the US and the Karen ethnic [people] from Burma. Instead of using his privilege to help uplift those who are persecuted, he participates in abusing other’s rights instead.”

Since March this year the Burma military have launched airstrikes and ground offensives against ethnic Karen people in eastern Burma, displacing more than 70,000. Karen community groups are battling wet season rains, flooded rivers and Covid-19 border restrictions to deliver medical care, medicine, food and shelter to the displaced.

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