Earlier this month, Fox News riled up the Asian-American community with a jaw-dropping episode filled with “light-hearted” racist innuendos.
“The O’Reilly Factor” segment, titled “The Chinatown Edition,” was supposedly inspired by the myriad of times that “China” was mentioned during the first presidential debate. In the field piece for his “Watters World” segment, the mission-driven Fox commentator, Jesse Watters, was sent to Manhattan’s Chinatown to “sample political opinions” with his modus operandi of ambush-style interviews.
(Now as superfluous as that proposition may sound, you know, since Clinton is leading Trump by a whopping 49 points among Asian American voters, according to a recent poll.)
Introduced with the Carl Douglas song “Kung Fu Fighting,” the “holy-crap-that’s-so-racist-man-on-the-street” clip (dubbed by writer Jenn Fang in an article) recorded Watters bombarding passersby with an array of questions that veered into repugnant racial stereotypes:
“Am I supposed to bow to say hello?”
“Do they call Chinese food in China just ‘food’?”
“Is this the ‘Year of the Dragon?’” to which “The Daily Show” correspondent Ronny Chieng responded: “No, it’s actually the year of ‘Go F*** Yourself.’”
Equally intriguing was when Watters asked a Chinese man to demonstrate the Japanese martial art karate. That’s like going to Little Italy and telling them to cook taramasalata.
Though the entire cringeworthy clip was painfully discomfiting, one scene particularly drew criticism.
Immediately following an encounter with an Asian grandma who remained silent, the editor tossed in a clip of Madeline Kahn’s character in Young Frankenstein, screaming hysterically, “Speak! Speak! Why don’t you speak?!!”
Racial identification aside, anyone with a sense of right and wrong, or in the words of Michelle Obama, some “basic human decency,” should find these edits inappropriate to be broadcasted by a major news channel on television.
Bill O’Reilly, the right-leaning host himself, has unabashedly admitted: “I know we’re going to get letters. It’s inevitable.” But the storm of criticism across the internet has been revolutionary.
Protest outside News Corp against Fox News segment that ridiculed Asians. pic.twitter.com/0kLvTW1iAw
— Eric Fish (@ericfish85) October 6, 2016
In the following week, New York Times editor Michael Luo published an article titled, “An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China,” sharing his personal encounters with hurtful discrimination, out-right racism and anti-Asian bigotry in his home country.
His writing struck a nerve with many Asian Americans and evoked “an avalanche” of responses, which were edited into a trending New York Times video.
After tweeting a faux apology basically saying “I’m sorry if you found my jokes offensive,” Watters preposterously headed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to film another segment that was scheduled to air 10 days after the Chinatown catastrophe, titled “Watters’ World: Pennsylvania Dutch edition.”
Great! By deriding another ethnic group (without the interspersion of repulsive movie clips of course), the previous ching chong debacle was totally not offensive and was altogether justified because the politically incorrect “Watters’ World” episodes jeer at everybody.
Perhaps the humorless Asians should just laugh it off because it’s just the good, old-fashioned, fun-filled racist joke that everyone’s too familiar with.
Or perhaps more attention should be paid to the echoing voices from across Asian American and other racial minorities as they expose an alarming and widening rift embedded in today’s America.
So a round of applause is due for Fox News for initiating an outpouring of condemnations that heighten the increasing social and racial tensions–and for being unapologetically proud in doing so.