Minority Defense Pretense: No-Apology Hypocrisy

pete-hoekstraThis week’s Smackdown goes out to Michigan GOP Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra, for this unabashedly racist campaign ad.

Let’s take a moment to think about how many people were involved in the process of creating this ad – from conception (can you imagine this person?) to its national airing to millions of people across America.

And not just White Americans.

Asian-Americans live here, too.

Does it boggle the mind that the thousands of people involved in the process of creating this ad saw nothing wrong with it? Didn’t see anything racist about it? Thought it was just fine and dandy to broadcast on the most-watched night of American television to a nation which includes millions of Asian-American citizens?


Characters in Disney's "Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers."


Yet we somehow manage to remain unaware of, and even scoff at the idea of systemic racism.

Go figure.


But this Smackdown has a double-billing on its ticket. This one also goes to the reporter in this video.

Reporter Lawrence O’Donnell’s effusive praise of a minority victim whom he initially sought out for attack, reveals a disturbing double-edged sword of racism. O’Donnell first attacks the minority – thereby inciting a racist feeding frenzy – then uses the same blood-stained sword to save her from same feeding frenzy in an effort to disguise his own complicity.

While Hoekstra’s brand of racism slaps you right across your damn face, O’Donnell’s represents a much more subversive brand of racism. The kind disguised as ‘aid’ as he reconstructs his own self-image.

lisa-chanO’Donnell “put out an APB” in a very public forum – Twitter, no less – to “locate” (and, in the process, humiliate) the aspiring Asian actress, Lisa Chan, shown in Hoekstra’s bigoted campaign ad.

Rather than expend this enormous public effort humiliating Hoekstra, O’Donnell instead  targets Chan – a young girl without even a mili-tenth of the smooth political savvy Hoekstra undoubtedly used to convince her to participate in his scummy ad. In his own display of journalistic savvy, O’Donnell latches onto this ethnic actress, and smears her with tar in prep for the feathering he knows will launch his ratings into orbit.

In a subsequent newscast, in which he reverses himself completely, O’Donnell performs a long-winded monologue berating politicians for both not apologizing for their errors, and for offering up insincere apologies.

news-reportYet, this reporter himself does not apologize for singling out this particular Asian girl from the thousands of actors who daily sell out in some form. He does not apologize for his dogged, and very public targeting of her. He does not once apologize for being the self-righteous catalyst for what he describes as Chan’s “personal hell that she never saw coming.”

While I agree with everything he says about politicians and apologies, the manner in which he presents this comeuppance is disturbing in light of the fact that he himself threw Chan to the lions in order to garner ratings, and now uses her battered carcass to score points as a diversity advocate after the fact.

Throughout his ‘report’, O’Donnell offers no apology for his own over-the-top pursuit and humiliation of his targeted victim.

The degree of hypocrisy here is astounding.

A sincere apology from O’Donnell – the kind he attacks politicians for not giving – would have been much more appropriate. And more easily forgivable.

God help minorities on the receiving end of this smarmy brand of “advocacy.”


What’s your view of this issue?


Sylver’s Saturday Smackdown


12 thoughts on “Minority Defense Pretense: No-Apology Hypocrisy

  1. First, as you well know from your many comments to my posts, you realize that I abhor racism or any other sort of hatred. I have to confess, while I think the ad was poor in communicating the message that former Rep. Hoekstra tried to suggest in his interview, I didn’t find it particularly racist. I sent it to several Asian friends for their commentary. They weren’t offended by it either. Although we were all in agreement that without the benefit of the young lady in the ad – a compelling case could have been made for the economic benefits that China is enjoying at the USA’s expense. (But as you said, it was aired during the Super Bowl – so maybe a listing of statistics and facts wouldn’t have appealed to that particular viewing audience).

    I’m already steeling myself for what I expect will be the most flagrant political commercial season – with half truths and outright lies to be showered on the viewing public like battering rams. In light of that, this commercial would probably get a PG rating.

    • Hi, J. I’m glad you’ve added your wisdom. It’s great to have lots of viewpoints on this issue. Yes, I know how you abhor racism – your views are open-minded and inclusive, which is one of the many reasons I love reading your posts. Well, that, and of course Gracie 🙂

      That said, I, too, know a handful of Asians who weren’t offended by this ad. I also know dozens of friends, family members & co-workers who are very offended by it, along with hundreds of protesting university students, personnel and Asian-American groups & organizations – all deeply offended and speaking out against it. As well, many White Americans also found the ad offensive – I have an uncle who expressed it best the night it aired: “I’m offended, as an American, by that very public display of racist propaganda!”

      I agree the ad was poor in communicating the message (understatement of the year). And yes, pull on your muck boots (which, really, we should already be wearing because the slime’s already knee-deep) because I think you’re right about this being “the most flagrant political commercial season.” And if you rate this racist ad “PG,” then I’m pulling on a slime cape to go with my boots! 😐

  2. Asians are an easy target for racism since they usually aren’t very vocal about it. If they made an ad with black people gorging themselves on fried chicken and watermelon there would be an uproar. Why don’t Asians have as loud of a voice?

  3. Let’s agree to disagree. I spent most of the afternoon trying to write a response and I’ll just have to confess that I was unable to solve the problems which have plagued mankind for as long as we’ve been here. How do you treat everyone as equal under the law and still satisfy Dr. McIntosh? I’ll confess that I don’t know.

    Like the policemen in New York, I’m tired. It’s not about whose right or wrong, it’s about how long all this has been going on. I’m sorry that in my fatigue I said things which obviously violated ideals that are very important to you. I was wishing there was a way to expedite the process. I’d be willing to take shortcuts if it meant this chapter in our history would be over, but I meant no disrespect.

    • Of course you meant no disrespect. As I said, I know you have a good heart. 🙂
      The fact that you spent the afternoon trying to craft an appropriate response shows clearly how much you care. I count myself lucky to have had such an enlightening discussion with someone whose views oppose my own. It’s easy to congregate with those who think like us. But the real learning, the true enlightenment comes in exchanges with those unlike ourselves. And I can honestly say that I learn something new, or see something from a different view in our exchanges. To me, that’s the best gift in the world. So, thank you Jane! 🙂

      • I kept wondering what my trigger was. What was it in your blog that set off my explosion of frustration with the status quo. Somewhere in the night I figured it out. It wasn’t really anything you said. It was something in one of the articles you linked to.

        The author commented that the actress didn’t even LOOK Chinese. That just pushed my button. I thought, “All this angst about a politician’s racist ad and one of the accusers is obessessing over whether the actress in the ad looks like the Chinese person she was portraying or not.” Isn’t that what we’re fighting – making judgments about people with nothing to go on but a glance?

        Anyway – that gave me some closure and I was finally able to go to sleep.

  4. I remember Pat Buchanan lamenting a while back about all the immigrants ruining our culture. Well, whose culture? His Irish, white, Catholic culture? Come to Miami. 51 % foreign born.

  5. Obviously this guy is an idiot, but here’s my question. When are we going to get over the whole minority thing? Hasn’t the pot boiled enough? Let’s just start enjoying the stew in our melting pot and quit asking where the ingredients came from.

    Red and yellow, gay and straight – we’re all in the same boat. Life is tough. Money makes a difference. Having the right connections makes a difference. However, WASPs no longer have all the money and certainly not all the influence. In fact, taken together, the minorities out weigh the WASPs.

    And who can claim to be all anything these days. My Dad is a Son of the American Revolution and I think that’s great, but spend a few minutes on Ancestry. It becomes pretty clear very quickly that I’m a bottle of Heinz 57. My heritage is spiced up with a little bit of everything. Race, sexual orientation and the like doesn’t matter. The more we talk about race, sexual orientation and the like, the more it divides us.

    We need to get over the polls. ‘Forty seven percent of whatever thinks this and that’ shouldn’t make a bit of difference. What is important is each of us taking the time to make our own mind up about our own goals and values. The media quotes these facts and figures at us as if they meant something. They don’t. Take any set of numbers that you want and give them to a spin doctor. He’ll get them to say whatever you want them to.

    • Hi, Jane. Thank you for expressing your viewpoints so openly here. That is always & greatly appreciated. I’m all about dialog, so here goes. 🙂

      Though your opening statement gave me a chuckle, I disagree strongly with the majority of your points, here:

      1. “Hasn’t the pot boiled enough?”
      Yes, I think virtually every minority in this country would agree that the pot has boiled enough. But unfortunately, they are in the pot. And it’s still boiling.

      2. “When are we going to get over the whole minority thing?
      “The whole minority thing” is much easier to “get over” when you belong to the majority group, rather than to the group being oppressed. “Get over it” is a common statement made by many White people, and I can tell you from both personal interaction, and extensive research, that this statement both hurts deeply and enrages minorities. The statement neither recognizes nor acknowledges the repeated acts of racism minorities experience every day; they would, literally, have to “get over it” every day of their lives. Can you imagine being [figuratively] pinched, slapped, and kicked daily, weekly…for life? In a myriad of historic and newly evolving ways? All because you’re not White?

      However, I believe from the comments you leave regularly, that you have a good heart and do not mean to insult minorities with this comment. I believe you mean that we, as a society, should ALL “get over” it. In which case, yes we should. But we haven’t. And that must be acknowledged, discussed, and dealt with if it is to be rectified.

      3. Which is why I disagree with your statement “The more we talk about race, sexual orientation and the like, the more it divides us.”
      When we remain silent – don’t talk about differences – we miss opportunities to nip erroneous impressions in the bud. Silence leaves us to our own assumptions, you know? Allows us to absorb racist views coming at us daily, hourly from every avenue in our lives (advertising, news, movies, racist family members, friends, associates, etc.).

      You said: “What is important is each of us taking the time to make our own mind up about our own goals and values.” This, I agree with one thousand percent! 🙂 And I know, from your comments on other posts, that this is something you believe strongly. I not only applaud you for that, I completely concur.

      But the reality is that many people in this society are accustomed to being spoon-fed what they should think. In the absence of open and frequent discussion about something as destructive and demoralizing as racism, where would their information come from? No anti-racist action is taken as long as we refuse to discuss differences.

      Rather than divide us, I believe, dialog provides us golden opportunities to correct damaging viewpoints, to provide alternate ways of seeing one another, and to unify us through interaction based in open discussion rather than so-called ‘colorblind’ silence. The “get over it” statement is a perfect illustration of why discussion is sorely needed. The statement shows a lack of true understanding of the depth and breadth of the racism which proliferates in this society, even as we are being led to believe that it is lessening. It isn’t. It’s just evolving in new, less overt ways more quietly because we don’t want to talk about it.

      4. “Red and yellow, gay and straight – we’re all in the same boat.”
      I believe there is nothing further from the truth. We are most definitely not in the same boat. Never have been in this country. Our history proves out the extent of the differences between the boats of Whites and minorities. This history is still in effect, still being written as we speak.

      This sentiment of us all being in the same boat, I believe, falls under the ‘colorblind’ (“I don’t see color.”) theory which assumes that minorities are on the same playing field as Whites, have the same opportunities, problems, peeves. ‘Colorblindness’ sounds progressive but, as explained by Dr. P. McIntosh (a renowned researcher on topics of bigotry), it in fact, “negates the cultural values, norms, expectations and life experiences of people of color. Even if an individual White person could ignore a person’s color, the society does not. By saying we don’t see their color, we are also saying we don’t see our whiteness – which denies their experience of racism and our experience of privilege.”

      “Life is tough.”
      Yes, life is tough. No argument here. But there is a strong case to be made that it’s a lot tougher in a minority boat.

      5. “In fact, taken together, the minorities out weigh the WASPs.”
      In my own research, I hear this repeatedly from Whites across many different sectors. Each time, it shocks me anew. The shocking aspect of this statement is the assumption that more minorities means more power. Yes, the number of minorities in this country is increasing steadily. But the balance of power is not. Not even close. This is key because the institution of racism is alive and well in the most powerful sectors of this country. As with slavery, more slaves did not equal more power for Blacks. It, in fact, increased oppression by White landowners who were terrified of being overtaken, terrified of losing their power. Let not our Black president fool anyone into believing that the balance of power has shifted. 🙄

      Well Jane, what do you think? 🙂 I hope we can discuss it further, or agree to disagree on this hot-bed issue while continuing to learn from one another through our exchanges here. There’s nothing I value more than dialog, especially when it involves learning how others see things. To me, there’s no better gold for improving our interactions with each other in this society.

      P.S. You’ve given me a great idea for my next Foreign Eyes Friday post – thank you! 😉

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