(I am backed up three deep on the “Comments of the Day,” and I apologize to the deserving and patient commenters.)
Alex Yuan raised an element of the revolting Jimmy Kimmel stunt discussed in my post, an extension of his penchant for using children as uncomprehending props for his often ugly comedy, that I glided right over: Why was showing a child suggesting that wiping out the Chinese was a viable solution to national problems even considered fit for broadcast, when a similar comment about Jews, gays, Hispanics or blacks would be considered instantly taboo? Why doesn’t the ethics alarm sound when the minority being slurred or threatened is Asian?
Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Jimmy Kimmel, Child Abuse, And Signature Significance:
It is interesting that you should mention political correctness because I can’t help feeling that in deciding it appropriate to air this segment, ABC – perhaps as a reflection of societal attitudes at large – is illustrating the alleged double standard against Asians when it comes to how topics concerning minorities and other protected classes are handled in public.
Imagine if Kimmel had asked the kids a question concerning problems in America resulting from, say, illegal immigration or drug cartels from Mexico (not that he would’ve, since those topics are likely verboten), to which one of them exclaimed, “Kill everyone in Mexico!” Likewise, I am confident that any question that would have elicited a remark from a kid that conveyed the slightest negativity – much less calling for genocide – toward Blacks, Jews, Muslims, or homosexuals would have been cut on the spot. While this could be just an isolated incident, given what seems to be an almost nonexistent advocacy in the public sphere of Asians and Asian Americans (e.g. exclusion from the provisions of affirmative action in admissions and employment, being largely ignored by pandering politicians and the media, etc.), it seems to me that far from being an incidence of political incorrectness, this segment was allowed to aired precisely because negativity toward Asians still remains – if not politically correct – at least politically “neutral.”
All in all, I think this is just another tempest in a teapot for which people took offense for all the wrong reasons and are demanding all the wrong redresses. Of course, if Kimmel weren’t exploiting children as fodder for comedy, then none of this would’ve happened. Besides, any uproar-worthy “racial hatred” promoted in this segment would just be another symptom of the dysfunctional state of race relations in this country – interestingly concerning a race no one deigned to care about until now – and ironically seeking action from an administration that has consistently demonstrated itself capable of utterly botching and exacerbating any racial issue that it touches.
I’m back. Alex has opened a major topic, and I will be on the look-out for opportunity to examine it. Before his comment arrived, I had mentioned to a friend that the Franklin D. Roosevelt deification in this country is remarkable, given what a mixed bag of courageous and brilliant achievements under incredible pressure and shocking decisions that showed callousness, careless or worse his four terms were. If FDR had decided to round-up and imprison all the African Americans, Jews or Irish as he did the Japanese-Americans, I cannot imagine that he would have ever been chosen, as he was by a historians poll a few years back, as the greatest American President. Even waging World War II and guiding the U.S. through the Depression wouldn’t fully compensate for such a human rights violation.
Why the double standard for Asians? Six theories, not all of which I agree with, and none of which sufficiently explain the phenomenon:
- The last three wars the U.S. fought in with the greatest U.S. casualties all involved Asian enemies, and the U.S. has been in an adversarial stance with China, with occasional thaws, since the end of World War II.
- The U.S. is Eurocentric; and has a powerful residuum of guilt regarding blacks (because of slavery) and Jews (because of the Holocaust). It doesn’t carry such guilt about Asians, in part because of ignorance. The treatment of Chinese laborers in the West was often just as brutal as slavery, and the Rape of Nanking is regarded, by the few Americans who know about it at all, as Asians mistreating Asians.
- The national bitterness over Pearl Harbor still runs deep. The “Greatest Generation” was encouraged to hate the Japanese, and they passed a lot of that hate along to the Baby Boomers in various ways.
- Asians in the U.S. are somewhat like the Jews in pre-World War II Europe and the U.S.—they are seen by many as successful, talented, and insular. The stereotyped Hispanic immigrant is poor; the stereotype Asian immigrant runs a successful small business and has a kid getting A’s at Stanford. Asians are not seen as needing any special consideration, protection, or political correctness taboos. They are seen as doing just fine.
- The success of Asians makes other minorities look bad, and challenges many deeply held convictions that prop up favored policies from the Left. If we need affirmative action for other minorities, why is it that Asians routinely out-perform everyone in high school and college, often with the language challenge? If there are no intelligence and ability differences among race pools, why do Asians always test higher than every one else?
- It’s considered acceptable to say things about Asians that would be considered racist if uttered about any other ethnic or racial group because they can take it: they are able, successful, not victims, and there are so many of them.