UPDATE: Dec. 19: Sometimes, good sense wins out. Despite the car dealer’s initial refusal to back down from the racist sentiments of radio ads that ran a couple of weekends ago, it appears Detroit may have exerted some influence.
The Japanese American Citizens League, which has a national anti-hate crime campaign funded by Ford Motor Company, released a press release that announces a public apology from Ocie Welch, the owner of O.C. Welch Ford Lincoln Mercury in Hardeeville, SC:
Mr. Welch issued a press release and sent the apology for his comments in the recent advertisements to the JACL. He stated: “I would like to apologize for my comments in recent radio advertisements. I am passionate about my love for Ford, and I mistakenly and wrongly conveyed this passion. I do not and will not condone discrimination and am sorry for any hurt I have caused.” The JACL acknowledged the apology and noted that car dealers are one of many businesses suffering as a result of the economic downturn.
The JACL issued a letter to Mr. Welch in which it stated that the remarks were hurtful and potentially harmful to all Asian Americans because they were reminiscent of racist sentiment during the recession in the 1980’s that acutely affected the auto industry in Detroit. During that period, Japanese automakers were often scapegoated as the sole source of the economic hardships.
It was in this environment that Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American, was beaten to death on the streets of a Detroit suburb by two autoworkers who blamed Chin for their problems, saying, “It’s because of you that we’re out of work.” Chin was not Japanese, nor was he or Japan responsible for all the unemployment caused by the recession. Instead, Chin was the tragic victim of a climate of economic fear abetted by racism.
He was victimized by racism in the same manner as Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in concentration camps in remote areas of the United States during World War II. It is for this reason that the JACL abhorred the remarks of the radio ad for the racism it invoked and for any misplaced anger it may have inflamed.
The JACL has worked with American automobile companies on various programs in the past and partners with Ford Motor Company on a youth leadership and empowerment program which includes anti-hate issues.
Read the original post by clicking the “Read More” link, and listen to one of the radio ads: