This is just racist. Period.

By now, I’m sure everyone heard about Hoekstra’s mind-bogglingly racist campaign ad that aired during the Super Bowl. If not, see for yourself here:

There was also the particularly infuriating finding that the HTML code for Hoekstra’s website uses “yellowgirl” to label the image of the video’s “Chinese” girl. Needless to say that this is outright racist attempt to turn people against Asians and by extension, Asian Americans. Hoekstra has pulled the ad and the corresponding website, but has not offered an apology and according to a Huffington Post article, “told old reporters Monday that his ad’s ‘insensitive’ only to the spending philosophy of Stabenow and Democratic President Barack Obama.”

All the coverage of the story I’ve read do note how outright racist Hoekstra’s campaign is, and many have already pointed out the ad’s inaccuracies (the background looks more like Vietnam than China), but much of the mainstream coverage inevitably goes back to political candidates and their views on China. Consider this New York Times post:

Senator Stabenow is likely to run on her record opposing trade deals with China and calling for crackdowns on the country’s manufacturing practices. That gave Strategic Perception the idea of trying to kill two birds with one stone: hitting her on government spending, a perennial Republican line of attack, and linking overspending to helping China at the expense of the United States economy.

“This is one area she can’t compete against Pete on,” Mr. Kenyon said.

A press release on Mr. Hoekstra’s Web site said he spent $150,000 on the ad, which will run for two weeks.

Reading the comments on the New York Times post, it seems like a lot of people don’t find this ad offensive because it’s parodying Chinese people, not Asian Americans, but from one listen you can tell the girl is obviously a native English speaker faking a bad accent. Obviously, the people who make this comment don’t’ really understand the distinction between Asians and Asian Americans, something that has grown more common as we in the US have been becoming increasingly panicky about China. Articles that touch on racism against Asian Americans and then conclude by analyzing politicians’ views on China only exacerbate this. Like others have already said, it was because people refused to distinguish between Chinese and Japanese, between Asian and Asian American, that Vincent Chin was murdered.

You think we would learn more from our history.

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