Thursday, February 16, 2012

"China" political ad proves that racism is a losing strategy

Pete Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican running for the United States Senate, ran this Super Bowl ad that offended pretty much everyone.

Accusing his opponent, Debbie Stabenow of increasing US reliance on China by passing "wasteful spending bill after wasteful spending bill," it used a caricature of a Chinese woman to push xenophobic buttons among his supporters.

Instead, the ad rallied support (and funds) for "Debbie Spenditnow" and critics from both parties called the ad “offensive and insensitive,” “very disturbing” and “really, really dumb.”

It was also parodied by Funny or Die:

Even the actress involved in the ad became the focus of negative attention, and she was outed by the Angry Asian Man blog:

The details about her identity are out there, slowly trickling in. And I imagine Ms. Chan is about to receive a lot of unwanted attention. I actually agonized over whether or not to post this information. I'm not trying to demonize her -- people have already done plenty of that, and I think that takes our attention away from the real culprit, Pete Hoekstra and his blatantly racist fear-mongering. And I hope you, good readers, will keep cool heads about this. 
I'm not saying Lisa Chan is blameless. I go back and forth between wanting to hang her out to dry for making such an idiotic, destructive choice, and feeling sorry that she was just doing a job, manipulated by a politician's ugly tactics.  
The truth is, I fall somewhere in the middle, and in the end I'd just like to know how a seemingly intelligent, educated person with a history of community involvement could willingly take part in something so fantastically awful and so harmful in ways that we can't even anticipate. 
For her part, Ms. Chan issued a full and heartfelt apology (in the manner of our times):

 And the man who "approved this message"? He still doesn't get it.

Lose, Pete Hoekstra. Lose big.

UPDATE: Hoekstra pulled the ad from YouTube. But it lives on.

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