From Huffington Post: Rush Limbaugh took the opportunity of Hu Jintao’s state visit to the U.S. to show off his “ching-chong” impression of the Chinese language. How mature… it’s so juvenile to make fun of a foreign language and foreign people by mocking how you think they sound. That’s third-grade stuff. Many Asian Americans have heard “ching chong” aimed at them growing up, and it was always by schoolyard bullies — ignorant schoolyard bullies who pull the stunt to make themselves feel superior.
I’ve felt the sting of this taunt, followed by crap like “Ah-so! Harro! Go home, chink/Jap! Ching-chong ching-chong!” The bullies always pulled back their eyes into slits and bared their lips to show buck teeth while they spat out their hatred.
It’s one thing for ignorant children to use racist taunts to put down others. It’s another thing entirely for an adult to do it, and especially shameful for someone with the public reach and potential impact of Limbaugh. He’s showing his ignorance for all the world to hear.
This is related to the issue of civil political discourse. When someone of Limbaugh’s stature uses racial language to mock an entire people and their language, he’s giving a signal that it’s acceptable to do this, to make fun of foreigners, to think that Chinese (and by extension, all Asians) are weird and exotic and inscrutable.
Somewhat to his credit, Limbaugh notes that Chinese probably find English equally obscure and inscrutable. But then he goes on to speak in a disgusting fake-Chinese accent that makes my stomach churn. I grew up hearing that too, and find it sad, no, pathetic, hearing it from Limbaugh.
Rush isn’t the first national personality to do this, and he won’t be the last. In 2005, Adam Carolla, Howard Stern’s heir on CBS radio, pulled a “ching-chong” stunt. In 2007 an Ohio radio DJ, Josh Garber who broadcast as “Lucas,” used a racist accent on his show to mock Asian business owners. And in 2006, Rosie O’Donnell pulled a “ching-chong” act on the daytime talk show, “The View.”
In each of these cases, the broadcaster made a public apology.
We’re waiting, Rush.
(Cross-posted from my Posterous pop culture blog.)
Update: Here’s a hilarious response from the LA-based Asian American comedy troupe 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, schooling Rush on how to properly mock Chinese: