Comment of the Day: “Jimmy Kimmel, Child Abuse, And Signature Significance”

(I am backed up three deep on the “Comments of the Day,” and I apologize to the deserving and patient commenters.)

And who can forget Mickey Rooney's hilarious turn in that beloved American film masterpiece "Breakfast at Tiffany's"?

And who can forget Mickey Rooney’s hilarious turn in that beloved American film masterpiece “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”?

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.

14 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Jimmy Kimmel, Child Abuse, And Signature Significance”

  1. Another possible reason for the disparity: Asians are thicker-skinned about these things (which may not be true, but at least they are perceived that way.)

    Asians don’t have a loud-mouthed Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton staging rallies and appearing on television after every slight, real or imagined.
    They do have advocacy organizations and such, but the perception is not present that a racist joke about Asians will result in loud, angry, possibly harmful retribution. This could also be said of southerners, Christians and fat people, also acceptable targets in media.

  2. First, I think that the way people think of Asian-Americans and Asian countries need to be separated. For the former, I think the last three points on the list are things I have seen a lot. I went to high school with a large number of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ and I went to college with quite a few people from a variety of Asian countries. Their stereotype in the U.S. is that they are smart and hardworking. This doesn’t make them a good target for the typical liberal ‘we need programs to help the underprivileged minority group’ programs. In fact, they are an inconvenient truth to groups that claim that insitutionalized racism makes it impossible for minorities to succeed. At the same time, this image of success breeds resentment from the ‘native’ U.S. population (people who don’t know when their ancestors arrived in North America) who aren’t doing as well as these newcomers.

    As far as Asian countries go, I think there is a lot to be fearful of and resent. Would YOU like to live in North Korea? In mainland China? With the increasing military buildup and muscle-flexing of China, we are likely to come into conflict with them sooner or later and these cultural differences make this more worrying. In addition, China (and Japan) manipulate their currencies and their import laws to benefit their exports and keep our imports out. When confronted by such things, their leaders pretend to be offended by the very questions and demand apologies. Americans have typically had little tolerance for such attitudes (look at the Mexican-American war).

  3. I agree that the joke was offensive. But Alex is wrong about this:

    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.

    The particulars of prejudice towards every group is different (anti-Asian racism exists, and anti-Black racism exists, but that doesn’t mean the two things are identical). I doubt this exact joke would have been broadcast if the kid had said “Blacks” – but I suspect it might have been if he had said “Jews,” and it definitely would have been if he said “the French.”

    More importantly than this one particular joke, though, is that you can find jokes against “Blacks, Jews, Muslims, or homosexuals” (and other groups as well) on prime-time TV. Heck, you could find jokes about most of those groups on a single episode of “2 Broke Girls” (alongside a metric ton of anti-asian racism), not to mention the most recent Academy Awards show.

    Too many people claim that their own groups are “the last acceptable target” for being made fun of. I’ve seen that said by fat people, by gay people, by trans people, by Asians, by old people, and the list goes on and on. On the other side of the political aisle, I’ve seen conservatives claim that White people, straight people, rich people, straight men, etc, etc, are the last acceptable target.

    As I said in a post on the subject, I completely agree with the general points made by many of these folks (pretty much all the ones on the left), but can we please stop using the “only safe target” and “last acceptable prejudice” framings? Taken literally, these phrases positively scream “oppression olympics!”, and they’re virtually never accurate.

  4. 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?

    A lot of this is the difference in how the people who immigrate are selected. Imagine that you had two high schools. From the first high school you take the top 5% of the class; from the second high school you take a random sample of students. The group you take from the first high school would be a much higher-achieving group. A similar thing happens with immigration.

    In the case of Jewish immigrants in the 20th century, and Asian immigrants in the last few decades, the people immigrating are often the most ambitious and driven people in their communities. They are the people who are the most skilled at navigating all the barriers to immigration. In other words, these are people who are going to be successful anywhere they get a chance. And they’re immigrating to a place where they have already-established relatives who will help them start out.

    On the other hand, if immigration happens in a context of colonization or slavery, what you’ll wind up is a bunch of ordinary schmucks who then have all the disadvantages of being ripped from cultural supports and their family, not having the same language, etc. These immigrants won’t be as successful.

    For instance, in the United States in recent decades, Korean immigrants and Japanese immigrants have been relatively successful, including immigrants who are Burakumin (a Japanese minority group). But in Japan, the Korean and Burakumin minorities – both of whom came to Japan in nasty historical circumstances – have very low academic achievement and (in the case of the Burakumin) low tested IQs compared to the Japanese ethnic majority.

    Even when drawing from the same ethnic populations, how successful they are as immigrants depends on the circumstances of how they immigrated.

    • It’s a valid theory—it also is essentially the same theory that got Jimmy the Greek Snyder fired and labelled a racist. He noted that slaves were brought to this country and bred for physical size, ability and strength, account for the large number of NFL qualified African Americans. The theory that non-random selection of racial populations was also cited as an explanation of the results of Arthur Jensen’s work, which got him picketed on every campus.

      • My comment didn’t say or imply that slaves were “bred” for anything, not did I suggest breeding people like dogs accounted for different achievements. In fact, I didn’t say a word about “breeding.” I pointed out that even within ethnic groups, what matters is social factors (how people immigrate).

        So no, it’s not even slightly the same theory.

        That said, if you want to talk about Jimmy Snyder, let’s review what he actually said, which is very different from what you claim he said. Interviewed on MLK day, about the legacy of MLK, Snyder was asked about “sports” in general (not just the NFL). Snyder began by lamenting how hard it is for white people:

        They’ve got everything. If they take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there’s not going to be anything left for the white people. I mean all the players are black, I mean the only thing that the whites control is the coaching jobs. Now, I’m not being derogatory about it, but that’s all that’s left for them. The black talent is beautiful.It’s great. It’s out there. The only thing left for the whites is a couple coaching jobs…. there isn’t much left for the white guys anymore.

        Then he said:

        Interviewer: Yeah, but you know another thing is the predominantly white schools don’t emphasize sports.

        Snyder: That’s not the reason. The black is the better athlete to begin with. Because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs, you see. The white man has to overcome that. But they don’t try hard enough to overcome it.

        Interviewer: But it developed in certain sports that you have more prominent …

        Snyder: What, swimming, as that guy said? … Tennis, sure because you don’t need the thighs, the thigh situation, as much as you need it in other sports, you see. In football and baseball and any game that you have to run a lot, I mean your thighs come into prominence, very much so, because that’s what gauges your speed and your jump, in situations such as that, in basketball, your thighs the things that make you jump high. I’m telling you that the black is the better athlete, and he practices to be the better athlete, and he is bred to be the better athlete, because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trading, the big, the owner, the slave owner, would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid, you see. I mean that’s where it all started.

        Do I really need to explain in detail why Jimmy’s theory is crap piled on crap? Because I certainly could.

        As for his firing,

        1) If I had been the owner of CBS, Jimmy might not have been fired, as long as this was a one-time incident and Jimmy was willing to apologize (which he was). But CBS would have done programming frankly addressing Jimmy’s claims and explaining to viewers the many ways Jimmy got both history and biology wrong.

        2) If we go by your standards, however, CBS’s only responsible choice was to fire Jimmy. He humiliated his network in an avoidable, public way that thousands of news outlets covered – far, far more than ever covered the Don Ennis story. By the standards you used to advocate firing Ennis, firing Jimmy the Greek was the only right thing to do.

        * * *

        Finally, Jensen argued that genetic differences between racial populations account for IQ score differences (fn). I was arguing against that idea.

        (Footnote: Or, at least, that’s how people – including the protestors you cite – understood Jensen’s work. Jensen would have said he was only aguing that genetics hadn’t been ruled out.)

        • Barry, I’m sorry to have to point out the obvious, but you said that the difference in Asin success may have to do with the type of Asians who come to the Us, as opposed to the kinds of Hispanics who hop the borders. Yous said:

          “A lot of this is the difference in how the people who immigrate are selected. Imagine that you had two high schools. From the first high school you take the top 5% of the class; from the second high school you take a random sample of students. The group you take from the first high school would be a much higher-achieving group. A similar thing happens with immigration.”

          How else are we to read that, other than being consistent with the theory that the A-A population was originally “selected” for characteristics that have nothing to do with intellectual abilities. Nor does it make any substantive difference whether a non-random population “breeds” within that population, creating offspring with certain strengths and weaknesses passed on genetically by the parents, and whether it is “bred.”

          Of course it is social factors, culture, peer pressure, etc….and probably more. I think that is an incomplete explanation for why Asians (as a group) outperform all other groups in tests, learning achievement and grades, whether they are the kids of Cambodian boat people or families of Sony executives, and my point is, and remains, if you embrace the selective immigration theory for group differences, you can’t really disavow the Greek’s logic, though he was especially ugly in his verbalization of it.

          Jensen, of course, made no guesses about why he got the results he did. He was attacked for a) researching such a thing, and b) reporting results that challenged ideological positions.

          Since the US is about individuals, not groups or races, the question of relative group abilities should be of academic interest only, and have no effect on public policy or how any student, job applicant or citizen is assessed, judged, promoted or respected…or nominated, or voted for or against.

          • Jack, you’ve shifted your goalposts.

            How else are we to read that, other than being consistent with the theory that the A-A population was originally “selected” for characteristics that have nothing to do with intellectual abilities.

            Notice the goalposts moving? You’re no longer making the strong (and wrong) claim that my argument was “essentially the same theory” as Jimmy’s. Since that claim was obviously ridiculous, you’ve shifted to the far weaker claim that my theory is “consistent with” Jimmy’s.

            What I said is technically “consistent” with what Jimmy said, but not in any substantive way. If I say birds are evolved from dinosaurs, and Jimmy says dogs are evolved from Q-Tips, what I said is “consistent” with what Jimmy said insofar as I didn’t directly contradict Jimmy. But it’s much more substantial and important to note that what I said is true, and what Jimmy said is false.

            Now, let me point out some facts that are inconsistent with Jimmy the Greek’s claims.

            1) It is not true that slavers were able to conduct anything that even resembled a rigorous, effective breeding program.

            2) It is not true that slavers were breeding primarily for strength and size. The main thing slavers wanted was numbers. This meant that virtually all female slaves that could be made to reproduce, did reproduce – regardless of their size or strength.

            3) African-American slaves weren’t an genetically isolated population; most obviously, many white slave owners raped their slaves. This alone would have made any attempt to breed for specific traits (like size and strength) ineffective.

            4) Modern African-Americans are an extremely genetically diverse group, which wouldn’t be consistent with any group that’s gone through an effective, rigorous trait-directed breeding program.

            I could go on, but hopefully that’s enough.

            So do you disagree with Jimmy being fired?

            • Barry, I know all of that, and the same kinds of things are true of Asians. The population isn’t pure in the least. The “gene pool” is polluted on all sides. The racial constructs are increasingly artificial.

              I meant “consistent with” from the beginning, and I thought my original comment made that clear….it obviously didn’t, and I apologize. It obviously wasn’t the same as, because the Greek was talking about slaves, and you were discussing Asians.

              CBS had to fire him because Jimmy was being tarred as a racist, and he was on shaky ground to begin with—he was a professional oddsmaker, and inherently sleazy. I feel sorry for anyone whose mouth gets them ruined, and Jimmy’s career was destroyed. But that goes with the territory.

              I once met Jimmy the Greek in a Washington restaurant, where he was dining with friends at a nearby table. I introduced my Greek-speaking mother to him, and he conversed with her animatedly in Greek—he was charming and sweet to Mom, and she was bowled over.

              • I meant “consistent with” from the beginning, and I thought my original comment made that clear….it obviously didn’t, and I apologize.

                Thanks for clarifying that. Apology accepted, and I’m sorry that I misunderstood you.

                I’m not surprised that Jimmy the Greek was charming in person! How fun for your mom.

  5. Maybe I don’t watch enough TV but I have a hard time believing that “kill all the people in China” is something that spontaneously comes out of the mouth of a six year old.

    Also, ethnicity aside, it is vulgar to allow a child to talk about killing people.
    Even worse that it was in a comedy context.
    15 years from now, society will be wringing its hands and wondering how the next Adam Lanza got started.

    Oh, wait, that’s right, I forgot, it’s not the Adam Lanzas, it’s the guns.
    Sorry, I was thinking for a minute. With my brain. @@

    • Oh, I believe it. Kids are neither perfect in moral understanding, nor very smart generally.
      When I was about six I thought that all the love/breakup songs on the oldies station were about people getting married and divorcing.

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