Pete Hoekstra’s racist Super Bowl campaign ad feeds — and feeds on — paranoia about China

(NOTE: Updates posted at bottom, including more parodies as they’re posted and more crazy stuff from Pete Hoekstra as he says them).

This ad was shown during the Super Bowl, but only in Michigan, where former Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra is running to unseat Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow. The 30-second spot shows a pretty young Asian woman in what looks like Vietnam, riding a bicycle among rice paddies with a conical hat slung over her back, who stops and says to the camera, “Thank you Michigan senator Debbie Spend It Now,” for contributing to U.S. deficit spending and borrowing more and more money from China.

Yes, the ad shows Southeast Asia (a familiar sight to anyone with even a modicum of familiarity with world history of the past 40 years, and certainly Hoekstra) but it bashes China as a way to get at Stabenow. The woman in the ad never says “China” but it’s clear who the target is, as the woman speaks in her sort-of-broken English, after a gong (that’s not a cliche at all) starts off the spot:

“Debbie spent so much american money, you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you debbie spend it now.”

The ad is so chockfull of racially-charged symbolism it’s disgusting as well as unintentionally comical (some Chinese are puzzled because they can see immediately the setting isn’t China).

It’s messed up and offensive on multiple levels, and not just because Hoekstra’s campaign chose to mash together westerner’s scant knowledge of Asia into one image: “Oh, relax, it’s all Oriental, right?” It plays on stereotypes of the “Hot Asian Babe,” Asians’ broken English, sense of superiority over outdated notions of third-world rice farming economies, and fear of China/Japan/Koreans/Viet Cong/the Asian flavor-of-the-year.

It’s also politically very dishonest.
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Ron Paul supporter posts online ad attacking Jon Huntsman for “Chinese values”

This is a disgusting bit of race-baiting. Someone claiming to support Ron Paul’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination has posted an attack ad against Jon Huntsman — who frankly isn’t one of the top contenders — that plays up Huntsman’s connections to China.

It begins with an ominous challenge asking whether the candidate represents “American values or Chinese?” Then it show him speaking Mandarin and asks “Weak on China? Wonder why?” before showing Huntsman with his adopted Chinese daughter.

That’s a stupid stretch for even an ignorant person, that a presidential candidate would secretly support the People’s Republic of China because he has an adopted Chinese daughter. The next clip shows Huntsman, a Mormon businessman and former governor of Utah as well as Barack Obama’s ambassador to China (he quit the post in April to run for president), holding his other adopted daughter, who is from India.

The video ends with an icky Photoshopped image of Huntsman’s face superimposed on a portrait of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung.

The video preys on peoples’ irrational and race-based fears of the Chinese (and, by projection, all Asians), a theme that’s unforunately been a part of American culture since the earliest days of Chinese immigration and the rise of enduring stereotypes such as the evil Fu Manchu and “Dragon Lady,” to the widely parodied 2010 TV ad featuring an evil Chinese Professor chortling about the fall of the United States because of wasteful government spending.

The Huffington Post has Huntsman’s response:
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Lowe’s pulls ads from “All American Muslim” series, sparks debate on both sides, brings out the haters

TLC's All-American Muslim


Lowe’s this week backed out as an advertiser on the TLC network’s superior reality TV show, “All-American Muslim,” which follows the lives of five Muslim American families in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit that’s home to the largest Mulsim population in the U.S.

I visited Dearborn when I attended the 2011 convention in Detroit of the Asian American Journalists Association and was impressed with the palpable sense of community among the Muslims. We spent time at the Arab American National Museum, and felt the same sense of cultural pride alongside patriotism for accomplishments as Americans that I feel whenever I visit the Japanese American National Museum in LA.

Muslims are misunderstood by a lot of Americans who confuse anyone who’s Muslim with being a terrorist or the enemy we’ve been fighting in parts of the Middle East. That specter of hate also reminds me of Japanese Americans, and the blanket condemnation JAs faced after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, even though many of them were loyal to the United States.

I understand that Lowe’s was concerned because the show became what they called a “lightning rod” for “strong political and societal views” — the words they used on their Facebook page to defend their decision — in the emotional debate over Muslims in America.

Here’s the company’s Facebook post about pulling the ads:
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Seriously? Controversy about Obama kids getting “Asian” food including teriyaki chicken on Dec. 7?

Obama Family Portrait

This about takes the cake for lame-ass non-issues. WUSA9, Gannett’s DC affiliate (and sister station to Denver’s KUSA 9News, the top-rated station in Denver and home to Adele Arakawa, the Japanese American top-rated anchor), posted this video and text followup about the Obama girls’ private school serving Asian food on Dec. 7: “Sidwell Friends School, Sasha and Malia Obama’s School, Opts For Asian, including Japanese Food On Pearl Harbor Day.”

If you watch the video, it criticizes the yahoos who turned the lunch menu into political commentary about dishonoring those who died at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago. But the text is much more ambivalent and invites readers to get worked up into a frenzy, even with its headline spotlighting “Japanese Food.” Come one, teriyaki chicken? Yeah, it’s Japanese but it’s hardly un-American. Nothing to convene a new HUAC investigation over.

OMG — no one should have any Japanese food on Dec. 7. For that matter, we should have any German or Italian food in addition to Japanese food, on Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day. And don’t forget Korean and Vietnamese food… oh wait, there were Koreans and Vietnamese who were on our side. God forbid, if anyone gulped down any sushi yesterday, they’re traitor bastards.

This kind of crap is why I grew up dreading Dec. 7 every year.
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Half-Arab, half-Jewish woman & two Indian passengers profiled on flight on 9/11, arrested

Shoshana HebshiThis is disturbing, because in these paranoid and too often hate-filled times, racial profiling is easier than ever to slip into: On Sunday, 9/11, Soshana Hebshi, a self-described “half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife” from Ohio was flying home on a Frontier flight from San Diego that made a stop in Denver. She figured fewer people would be flying on 9/11 and since security was sure to be high, she could feel safe even on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks.

Unfortunately, she ended up being a victim of the atmosphere of fear that has hovered over the U.S. since 2001.

A passenger on the flight told an attendant that Hebshi and the two dark-skinned men sitting in her row (who happened to be Asian Indian) looked “suspicious.” That was enough to warrant an all-out show of force upon landing in Detroit, where her seatmates lived, when the pilot announced that passengers needed to stay seated as the plane was diverted away from the terminal.

Hebshi — who’s a graduate journalism student — wrote an eloquent, detailed account of the ordeal on her “Stories from the Heartland” blog. The story was also covered by the Associated Press.

When the plane landed in Detroit and she looked out her window seat and saw flashing lights, she began doing what journalists do. She started tweeting:

Stuck on a plane at Detroit airport…cops everywhere

A little concerned about this situation. Plane moved away from terminal surrounded by cops. Crew is mum. Passengers can’t get up.

Cops in uniform and plainclothes in a huddle in rear of plane.

I see stairs coming our way…yay!

Majorly armed cops coming aboard

That’s when she found out the SWAT team was on board to arrest her and the two Indian men (who didn’t know each other before the flight).
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