Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Asians: The New American Villan

In today's New York Times, it reports that two CBS Radio personalities have been put on suspension following complaints from an Asian-American group concerning a six-minute prank phone call to a Chinese restaurant "peppered with ethnic and sexual slurs."
In the skit, a series of apparently unsuspecting employees of a Chinese restaurant are berated by a caller who tells one woman he would like to “come to your restaurant” to see her naked, especially a part of her body he refers to as “hot, Asian, spicy.” The caller also attempts to order “flied lice,” brags of his prowess in kung fu and repeatedly curses at several employees.
Not only was this call played the day after Imus' comments, it was also played the day after Imus was fired. How does that make sense? Now, full disclosure here, I am Asian-American, and I am offended by this skit and this story. I absolutely think these radio hosts should be fired. And, I think that CBS Radio should suffer some consequences as well.

I'm on the record saying that Imus should not have been fired. But, since he was fired, I believe that the Imus episode has set a precedent that no offensive language should not be tolerated on the radio. Or, did the Imus episode tell us that only language offensive to African-Americans and to women are not tolerated on the radio?

As it plays out, this story will demonstrate the double standard that exists against Asian-Americans. These radio hosts will not be fired and America will not ever care about this story. Here are three reasons why:

1. There is no Asian-American in the United States with the political power to gain any kind of attention (meaning press time) to this story. Many Asian-American leaders will try to make their outrage known, but after a 24-48 hour news cycle, this story will quickly lose steam in the press.

2. The Asian-American target in this prank was not someone prominent like the Rutgers Women's Basketball team - people all of America could relate to. Employees of a Chinese restaurant in New York City will probably not appeal to anyone outside of NYC.

3. The face and image of the Virginia Tech massacre is an Asian-American. Last week, America was subject to the playing and re-playing of Cho Seung-Hui's video diary. Many will have those images etched in their minds forever. And, I don't see a lot of sympathy towards Asian-Americans - at least not enough to get these two radio hosts fired.

The "rules" have already been laid out. If you make fun of African-Americans, you have the self-appointed black leaders to answer to. Mexican-Americans? You'll have groups like La Raza knocking at your door. Gays and Lesbians? Rosie has a platform everyday to attack you until you apologize and ask for forgiveness.

But, Asians? Well, I think the Asian community in America is suffering a little bit by playing fair and following the rules. Can you name any prominent Asian-American who can take up the torch for Asian advocacy? I know I can't. This is the perfect set-up for Asian racism on the radio, in television, in the movies, and wherever else it is marketable to do that.

I know, people are going to accuse be of being overly sensitive and trying to play the victim in the politically correct society that we live in. "You don't have to listen to this stuff, Dr. A. You could just turn the channel."

Well, you could have just turned off Imus or you could have walked out during Michael Richards tirade. People were outraged by them, but will probably not be outraged by these radio guys. They'll get a slap on the wrist and then go back to work. I think that's wrong, but what do I know. I'm just Asian....

Update 5/13/07: These radio hosts have been fired. Read here for details.


Anonymous said...

dr A... if it's ANy consolation.
during this whole CHO/VT thing... not once did i even think..much less speak, that "it was because of an angry Asian man"...even though the news and other media, seem to think it is a point to pound into our heads that Cho, was an immigrant brought here when he was 8. yes, aaaand. he was a citizen of the United states.
was he not? then he his being an "immigranT'..shouldn't matter to people. what difference does that make? who cares. he was just a sick dude. period.
but you know... Asians may now have that :mark" on their head, along with the "arabs". just adding to the list of discrimination.
but ya gotta remember. not everyone is so one demensional. or mono-focused. there are some who can see into the heart of others. it isn't skin color. it's America and what should be unity in this country.
btw...the Oklahoma bombing...that was a white guy. not one person mentioned HIS race. the uni-bomber---white.
but if someone's black, asian, hispanic, or God forbid arabic, in this country... they are already attacked as a race. not individually. and that's too bad.
but ya know what? you, and others... you can be poud of your race, color, whatever, and be proud to be in the USA too.
yes, there is discrimination and prejudice... but not EVERYONE feels that, or teaches it to their children.
few, can impact many.
take care
oh ps... why does this word verification make me do it TWICE? i can't see very well as it is , and when i try to comment on here, i leave wih wattering eyes and a headache. does it really have a purpose, other than making me go blind? just curious.

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree, that you think, perhaps, that people won't care. When I read of this incident, I was disgusted. I care!

When I saw the face of the shooter at VT, I thought nothing of his race - it didn't even cross my mind. What I saw was a sick, psychotic Killer.

It saddens me that this continues in all the various cultures. When will people realize that people are just that, people? Skin color is no different than hair color, or eye color.

We should all stand together, no matter the race, and have a pact of zero tolerance for such nonsense.

OHN said...

Ironic that I should read this post today right after reading about an immigrant in my small Ohio town that arrived here as a teen from Saigon. He has worked so very hard to be able to bring his family to his "new home" and at the age of 27 became a single parent to 3 nephews when they became orphaned. He is a local business owner and working very hard to bring the rest of his family here. I see your point but I am thinking there are many more folks out there that applaud immigrants like this young man, than there are labeling them.

Sadly there are those among us that are bigots about anyone that doesn't fit their idea of "American"...I wonder if they ever stopped to think that their ancestors were also immigrants at one time. My personal opinion is anyone that is willing to work is welcome. I do though draw the line in those people (even natural born American's) that expect our country to provide for them for a lifetime without them ever earning the handouts...but that is a different post, for a different day.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Dr. A. When the whole Imus thing was happening, I thought (to myself), if his slurs & epithets had been gay in nature, there wouldn't have been nearly the same uproar. Yes, Rosie would have jumped and screamed, along with the gay rights groups, but he wouldn't have been fired, nor would have been played out as the same kind of media frenzy. Because, it's still OK in (too) many parts of this county to disparage and bash gays. (Isaiah Washington & Ann Coulter were not held to the same accountability. Sure, I.W. goes to gayspeak 'rehab"--what a PR joke!) What these two got was more PR, and little to no retribution. What if it had been reversed? What if T.R. Knight had made a racial slur to Washington. It would have been a very different story and outcome.
Yes, there is a hierarchy of bigotry and prejudice, and more importantly, a hierarchy to whom it’s OK and not OK to exercise that bigotry.
Welcome to my world, Dr. A. I'm truly sorry you've been included.

Anonymous said...

In the Northeastern part of the US, there's a large FrancoAmerican population, which immigrated from French Canada over the last 4 or 5 generations.

We've always stood out a bit, with our funny accents. The "frog" jokes are sometimes a bit much, but when you grow up with them, you just learn to ignore them.

I think what bothers me the most is that the elderly, some of whom never learned to get by very well in English, have had to struggle all of their lives in an English speaking society. They received no quarter for their lack of English skills - even from their local governments, which were themselves often completely Francophone.

With the passage of time ... a more inclusive attitude has begun to prevail, and we now see bilingual forms, bilingual signs, and bilingual voice options over local governmental and business telephone recordings ...

However, in this predominantly FrancoAmerican area, is the second language French? No ... it's Spanish. Here in the Northeast, where our Hispanic population is still so low ... and our FrancoAmerican population is still so high ... our "inclusive language" still excludes its Francophones.

And the "little old French lady" and "frog" jokes continue. In our local churches, it's common knowledge that a Franco will rarely rise to a position of importance - they'll import an Irishman from "away" instead.

Dr. A ... I hear you, loud and clear. As I read your post, all I could think was "ooh! ouch!!!"

Hang in there, my friend. Those who discriminate by reason of race (or religion, or sex, etc.) are small minded and ignorant. It would simply have taken an accident of birth to place them in the same position.

This frog extends her hand and heart in friendship and acceptance ... "e pluribus, unum!

Anonymous said...

Curious question though...does it fuel racism for people to call themselves Asian American/Mexican American/African American etc as opposed to just being known as an American? This isnt meant to be a heated question...but I have wondered. Growing up, it seemed folks were just American...whether they were black, white, Asian, or whatever their background was. I understand pride in one's heritage..but is having so many separate distinctions in America making things better or worse where racism is concerned? Muddy

Ian said...

Whoa, hang on a second...you're ASIAN??

I need to check something...



I'm done checking, and I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't make a bit of difference to me if you are or not. Long as you keep blogging, that's good enough for me. :)


coaster1robert said...

Come on doc,know is more trashed in America then -the redneck and hillbilly.and you don't see them crying about it.I think people are being to sensitive ,they forgot, how to laugh at a joke. I'm Irish and Scott,and i laugh at the joke towards my culture.you can't laugh at yourself,you got bigger problems then the rest of us. Robert