Re: Privilege

1

I hate the whole Colbert thing, but it seems related.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:33 AM
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"so what's a white person to do? "

Don't be a dick.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:56 AM
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Which is basically what they came up with, to their credit. They said "It seems like white kids our age either try to save the world or get super defensive. It seems like all you can do is be respectful to everyone and just don't be a douchebag."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:58 AM
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"It seems like white kids our age either try to save the world or get super defensive. It seems like all you can do is be respectful to everyone and just don't be a douchebag."

Yay!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 8:59 AM
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I do think it's worth suggesting that white people should be aware of opportunities to amplify the experiences of people of color, and not tell them to just work twice as hard or whatever. Instead of a tailspin, there's also meaningful, well-expressed anger, supported by real allies.

At least, I feel like, as someone who gets read as visibly queer here, it's fucking tiresome as hell that my straight "ally" colleagues respond to the constant heterosexist bullshit by coming to me and saying, "Wow, it must suck for you! How awkward for you! I once knew a gay guy and it was awkward for him here too, so he left!" and then flouncing off to feel good about themselves for "supporting" me. But they're not echoing the concerns I bring to the administration. They're not doing anything useful.

For our students of color here, who really are subject to all kinds of subtle midwestern white-centric racism, it's like all the well-meaning white people (esp. professors) say, "Oh, sure, dear, it must be hard for you" and then they go off and continue to teach in Eurocentric departments that exclusively acknowledge white culture. Since leaving city schools for lib arts colleges, I've realized it's become my job to teach in African diaspora studies whenever I can (in my historical field) because otherwise my students will imagine that the history of literature is exclusively white history, and that black people never wrote a thing before the Harlem Renaissance.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 9:32 AM
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1: The whole CancelColbert thing was mind-bendingly stupid, and Park's "oh, that was just tactical" rings of bullshit.

I know that I'm pretty much the exact demographic that's supposed to not get it, but addressing this in terms of "privilege" seems to miss the mark. Getting treated fairly isn't privilege; it's what everybody should expect/demand and strive to provide to others. The first implication of the privilege argument is that empowered classes are getting something they don't deserve and everybody should get shitty treatment, rather than disempowered classes being denied basic fairness and equality.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:22 AM
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...and should be treated better.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:23 AM
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There's "privilege" the concept (useful), and "privilege" the term that serves as a totem/fetish in certain progressive circles (questionable value). Of course this says more about the progressive circles in question than about privilege.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:29 AM
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Yeah, privilege is a really useful concept that has turned into a rhetorical dead end through casual overuse. At least on the internet, which is where I most often see discussions involving privilege, it tends to fast forward anything straight to the end of Act I of The Crucible. I'm calling out Goody Proctor! I'm calling out Goody Osburn!


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:34 AM
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"Privilege" also annoys me in my current context because it's a way for white bourgeois people to sit around pitying everyone else for how much their lives must suck. Sure, it's good to recognize privilege, but constantly wringing your hands over the poor black folks in cities (or poor unenlightened people in India, etc.) who didn't grow up with all the wonderful perfection of your life in the suburbs gets pretty gross, and also doesn't help anything.

I was recently talking to a young African-American man from LA who said that he never saw his blackness as a bad thing growing up; he was in a majority black school, and being black was normal/cool in his community. Moving to Rural College was the first time he realized that white people imagined him as having suffered constant alienation and being denied every opportunity in life. The pity of white acknowledgement of privilege can be incredibly alienating, even if it's an important step for the bourgeois suburban white kid.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:36 AM
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9: I spy a poppet!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:41 AM
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I'm not sure I've encountered a non-internet use of the word "privilege" in this sense in the wild in at least 10 years, but that's probably just as a result of not being around a college or university.

I do think there really is a real problem of the reflexive "constantly wringing your hands over the poor black folks in cities (or poor unenlightened people in India, etc.) who didn't grow up with all the wonderful perfection of your life in the suburbs." Probably not the worst thing in the world but also kind of an in-group identifier, and generally pretty worthless politically. I guess better than the hard-right wing alternative, though.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:46 AM
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1, 6: That article makes me less supportive of Park and the #CancelColbert thing than I was to begin with, which was not much at all. I can maybe understand the idea that the joke, when posted to Twitter, was devoid of context (which was a direct jab at Dan Snyder's risible "Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation"), but the explanations make it pretty clear that, no, they just don't think it was appropriate regardless of context. (Also, anyone who writes "the Colbert joke did not work is because it was a joke about race from a white liberal largely intended to pique the consciousness of other white liberals" loses points on aesthetic grounds alone.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:46 AM
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I think maybe I'm being especially sensitive about it because I've watched as a colleague of mine has spent the past two years learning the language of privilege-checking and immediately using it as a way to explain why he's so much better (smarter, happier, more successful) than everyone else. See, because he's a white, Christian, straight, English-speaking American man, he's had every opportunity to become a brilliant academic whose work is universally recognized for its excellence. He's so sorry for everyone else that they haven't had the opportunities to develop skills and confidence the way he has. It must be very hard for us, struggling with our inadequacies.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:53 AM
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I think maybe I'm being especially sensitive about it because I've watched as a colleague of mine has spent the past two years learning the language of privilege-checking and immediately using it as a way to explain why he's so much better (smarter, happier, more successful) than everyone else. See, because he's a white, Christian, straight, English-speaking American man, he's had every opportunity to become a brilliant academic whose work is universally recognized for its excellence.

Yes, that's a real winner of a line. I'm reminded of an early Boondocks strip in which Jazmine's mom is going on about how she meets all the unfair Eurocentric standards of beauty.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:57 AM
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Having seen the offending episode, I would never have guessed that THAT, after all these years, would be the thing to incite hordes of confused and outraged people who failed to get the joke. Not "Laser Klan"? Not the entire week of Scott Thompson's gay stereotype wandering around Russia?

But Comedy Central's tweet out of context was quite jarring. Then it was deleted. Oh no! Hiding the evidence!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:58 AM
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God, that Buddy Cole thing on Colbert was fucking genius.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:01 AM
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13: I don't think the #CancelColbert thing is helpful (...says the white male liberal), but the whole "you don't get satire" responses where themselves risible.

I did think it was interesting how it revealed how being explicitly racist is shamed in America varies greatly on the minority being biased against. A major league football team can be called a slur and while that's controversial, they're still able to do it in the public sphere and make millions doing it. Colbert's racist caricature led to an immediate and widespread backlash (it might not be as strong as the perennial backlash against the D.C. football team, but relative to the size of the institutions it's probably more substantial) and also drew comparisons to how "you wouldn't say the N-word, would you"? But he was still able to do it on national television. So explicit racism against Native Americans is more acceptable than explicit racism against Asian-Americans, which is more acceptable than explicit racism against African-Americans.

I could be reading too much into it--Colbert could have picked a different slur that would have been more or less offensive and that might have changed the ordering. I guess I just found it curious that the anti-Colbert activists on Twitter tried using a very similar rhetorical move to Colbert (compare to a different minority which is more unacceptable to be racist against), but stayed on the safe side of the use/mention distinction.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:02 AM
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I think there is a fair amount of analysis of what it takes to be not a dick/douchebag that white kids could usefully do. Recognizing that a lot of structural racism happens through the actions of people who aren't explicitly intending to be racist and that sometimes you're going to be in a position to be or not be one of those people, and then consciously watching yourself to be as little part of the problem as possible is useful.

To be concrete about it, which is why I'm being presidential, I am among other things a trainer. Junior people who have no idea what they're doing come in, I explain the job repeatedly, they are frustratingly bad at at it, and eventually they either figure it out or I give up and write them off as morons. I'm white, most of the trainees are white. We hired a young black woman a year or so ago, and she was frustratingly bad at the job, like everyone else who starts out. I started rolling my eyes at how bad she was, and then consciously noticed that this is the kind of subjective bottleneck where people can get unobtrusively and unintentionally screwed, and got very consciously intentional about making sure that I was giving her as much slack on the one hand, and support on the other, as I habitually gave trainees, and also consciously intentional about talking about her supportively to higher-ups. She caught on to the job at about the same speed people do generally, eventually did quite well, and has now successfully moved on to a different position.

I don't know if I actually did anything at all there. I might have been perfectly fair to her without watching myself, and so might the higher-ups who I was nudging away from prematurely judging her performance negatively. But that kind of subjective evaluation process is a danger zone for structural racism, and being thoughtful about how you're acting when you're in a position of power (or how other people you can influence are acting) is something that a white person can do, that goes a little beyond just not actively being a dick.


Posted by: James Garfield | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:03 AM
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where->were. My typing has really gone downhill in the last few months.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:03 AM
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13: IIRC, Colbert has occasionally done the "ching chong" thing since the Rosie O'Donnell incident, so I don't think it's necessary to invoke some hierarchy of racism to explain this particular choice.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:10 AM
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21 to 18.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:11 AM
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18.2 - But I mean, that's a reasonable point -- possibly even two ("even though I get the joke, the joke is still racist" and "why the hell is a Chinese caricature the go to joke, Colbert? Is it because your audience presumes that racism against Asians is harmless?"), neither one of which was covered in that Salon piece. And in comments, someone says that the author was happy when M/chelle M/lkin supported #CancelColbert, which I don't even.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:15 AM
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who failed to get the joke

The folks who "failed to get the joke" protest that they did, in fact, get the joke. I believe them. It's not a subtle joke.

I take Cooper to mean that white people don't get to decide how racism ought to be discussed, and that Park is properly asserting her prerogative in this regard by calling for the cancellation of the show.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:17 AM
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23 - I guess "the author" s/b "Suey Park".


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:18 AM
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I guess I should go google what the Colbert thing is, shouldn't I.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:28 AM
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24: That's also how I understood Cooper, and I think I agree with her. I hope I'm being meta-meta enough that my throwing in my two cents is, uh, copacetic and not oppressive.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:32 AM
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That seems like a perfectly fine position to take, but not one Cooper presents as... crisply as she might.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:35 AM
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26: The fact that you hadn't had to worry about it until now is just another example of your privilege.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:35 AM
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24, 27: Brittney Cooper and Suey Park don't need white people's permission to discuss race however they please, and vice versa.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:38 AM
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Race doesn't need Brittney Cooper and Suey Park's permission to discuss white people?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:40 AM
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Right.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:49 AM
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19 is super important. Next challenge is how to talk to colleagues and be effective when you suspect they may not be exercising the same salutary self observation / control.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:53 AM
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I don't think I've talked anyone here into reading Carl Hart's Book High Price on his personal history and his research on how addiction works and why The Drug War doesn't, but one of the most important parts to me was how explicit he is about the mentoring he got from various teachers along his path, including specific vocabulary coaching while he was a grad student. He writes a little about this in the fourth Q&A response here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 11:53 AM
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34: I read the book recently, and it might well have been because you mentioned it-- I tend to pick up lots of books that I vaguely recall having heard good things about, mostly from Unfogged.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:49 PM
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My position on #CancelColbert has neatly covered both "a good ally listens more than he talks" and "don't feed the trolls."


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:51 PM
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35: The caveat I should have put in this time and have before is that the book is not all that great as a book and I don't think the things he says will be new to most people here, but I think there are specific anecdotes that are fascinating and useful. Lee didn't like it or see why I had her read it, but I've heard her quoting things from it to people, so I'm glad I did push.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:52 PM
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As I think I mentioned on some thread here, I was kind of expecting more science. But it was interesting as a memoir; I agree that a lot of the specific anecdotes were really interesting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 12:58 PM
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My position on #CancelColbert has neatly covered both "a good ally listens more than he talks" and "don't feed the trolls."

Hear, hear.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:05 PM
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I agree that 19 is great, and I think a useful, concrete example of how individuals can improve things.

I think that there's a tendency for white liberals to enter this guilt spiral wherein they imagine that any individual effort they make to improve things will spur the resentment of the subject(s) of the effort, and so they retreat into vague imprecations of color-blindness and basically don't help at all. And I think that a lot of it comes from unfamiliarity with/distance from black America that leaves them flustered and prone to self-doubt - the standard sitcom joke about this being, "Are we supposed to talk about this?" from one whitey to another.

On a semi-related note, I was at the ballgame yesterday walking behind a trio of dudebros, one of whom noted a couple of attractive young ladies and started to react. I was trying to figure out what would be an appropriate response to actually-witnessed harassment, but what the guy actually did was hoot something almost certain not to get noticed by the ladies in question (I kid you not: "Whoa, take a look at that Pirate Parrot!"), and so I was let off the hook. I think the most I could have mustered was a "Hey, buddy, knock it off."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 1:17 PM
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Setting aside the obvious odiousness of self-described hashtag activists, as a white male liberal, I was made pretty uncomfortable by the actual "Ching Chong" tape with the voice and everything, both when it originally aired and when rebroadcast last week, for even-in-context-the-representation-normalizes-that-language reasons. Even with no other context, the tweet is pretty innocuous by comparison. ("or whatever" is a pretty loud nose tap). Props for owning it when called out, but I kind of hope the controversy scares Colbert off of continuing to use that segment.


Posted by: Lambent Cactus | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:01 PM
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40.2 is very true. There aren't very many models for or explicit examples of how one actually should behave. Someone should make a series of instructional videos, so we can all fight about whether #downsplaining is inherently problematic.


Posted by: Lambent Cactus | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 2:06 PM
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My position on #CancelColbert has neatly covered both "a good ally listens more than he talks" and "don't feed the trolls."

I think that's wise and true, but maybe a little too high-minded for me. My reaction to people who say I'm not an ally is: Well, you're right, pretty much by definition. I don't get to make the call as to who you consider an ally, and it's pretty clear that we're looking for different outcomes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:29 PM
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Here's a line from a Salon article (not worth linking) that's worth contemplating by the "privileged:" Without any perception of your own possible or actual privilege and bias, you risk becoming the notorious Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, utterly convinced that you are an enlightened and reasonable person and deeply, hilariously wrong.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:39 PM
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30: By the same token, white people don't need the permission of Stupid Suey to jeer at her and other professional crybabies like herself.

I am not personally white, but if I'd been the place of that TV host I would have been much less kind with my mockery. people like Suey need to internalize that European culture is, objectively, superior to the mysterious east. I have zero desire to be an ally of a whiner like her.


Posted by: Hector_St_Clare | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:48 PM
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I'm an ally of those who want to shut down Politically correct crybabies and exclude them from the public square.


Posted by: Hector_St_Clare | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:49 PM
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utterly convinced that you are an enlightened and reasonable person and deeply, hilariously wrong

Some things just need to be repeated.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 3:52 PM
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Hector, please go away.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 4:14 PM
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I second 48.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 6:03 PM
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6: I know that I'm pretty much the exact demographic that's supposed to not get it, but addressing this in terms of "privilege" seems to miss the mark. Getting treated fairly isn't privilege; it's what everybody should expect/demand and strive to provide to others. The first implication of the privilege argument is that empowered classes are getting something they don't deserve and everybody should get shitty treatment, rather than disempowered classes being denied basic fairness and equality.

I'm not sure that's what the 'privilege argument' is. Rather, it points out that many people are not treated fairly, and that "fair" treatment is at this point a privilege.

I see that some renderings might make it sound as though some empowered people are getting things they don't deserve -- but let's be honest, in many cases they don't.

I do understand the concern about defining expectations down, as though equal justice calls for treating everyone equally shittily. That's wrong, of course. It's just not clear to me that any reference to privilege, esp. white privilege, amounts to that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:18 PM
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Useful rule of thumb: anyone babbling about 'white privilege' is not the sort of person who deserves to be taken seriously.


Posted by: Hector_St_Clare | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:37 PM
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You've been asked to leave, Hector.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:40 PM
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Please leave, Hector.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 7:42 PM
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That seems like a perfectly fine position to take, but not one Cooper presents as... crisply as she might.

Did you just describe a black columnist as inarticulate in a race thread? Way to ratchet the awkward up to 11. I blame privilege.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:30 PM
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8192!!!!!!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 1-14 10:33 PM
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What's that in doge?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 12:04 AM
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Privileged doge.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 12:05 AM
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I saw Colbert's choice of Asian Americans as an extension of the analogy--Dan Snyder created an offensively named group as an "apology" for previously offending that group. Colbert, with his offensive Chinese persona, had previously offended Asian Americans, thus his offensive foundation was a parallel "apology" to Snyder's. Within this context, his choice makes sense--it's creating a similar set up to the object of his satire.

I think there are some interesting larger issues brought up by people who are not Su/ey Park, and only in tangential relation to this particular Colbert segment:
1) is mocking Asians or Asian Americans more acceptable in mainstream America than other groups, and if so, why?
(in no particular order)
-Is it because Asian Americans are not seen by mainstream white Americans to have suffered from racial discrimination to the same extent as other minorities?
-because Asian stereotypes rely on them being "passive" and thus no one expects Asians to get offended and/or sees their offense as illegitimate?
-do people simply tend to hold more negative opinions of Asians than they do other ethnic minorities?
-how does anti-Communist rhetoric and the threat of the "red menace" color our views of Chinese in particular, and other (East) Asian Americans become caught up in a meaning of Asian which is synonymous with "Chinese"? (ching chong is a parody of Chinese, not any other Asian language)

(My guess as someone who pays attention to portrayal of China & Chinese in the media is it's some combination of all of these factors, but would require empirical study).

2) some words "bleed," i.e., they carry their original context with them and can almost never be recontextualized, not even with extensive distancing measures or in parody. These words tend to be taboo words. N***er is probably the most potent example in 21st century America (notice how I am unwilling to fully write it out, even in a context where I am in no way using it as a racial slur?). Some people are arguing that "ching chong ding dong" is another such term, and so, even in the context of effective parody, the word still carries with it its power as a racist slur. I'm not sure I agree with this, but this would be something to have a conversation about, one that by no means needs to include me.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:33 PM
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clarification from above: In particular, how does anti-Communist rhetoric blend with, reinforce, and in some cases mask earlier Orientalist discourses of the Yellow Peril, allowing people to say offensive things about Chinese people under the fig leaf of opposing communism/authoritarianism?


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:36 PM
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My dad was asking me whether I felt like I was being monitored or if I felt like I wasn't free to do what I wanted when I was in China recently, "since it's a Communist country." I thought that was a bizarre question and was really surprised that he asked it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:39 PM
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Also, the "ching chong" thing is odd since to my ear very little of Chinese sounds like that, and as several Americans mentioned during our trip, the most salient feature of the language as heard by English speakers with no knowledge of Chinese, maybe after the tones, it that it sounds like they're saying n***er every third word.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:41 PM
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I thought it was specifically Cantonese where every third word is the n-word?

On Colbert and fake languages I really liked his bit on how that offensive news report on the fake pilot names for the Asiana crash were all wrong since the should have been in fake Korean, not fake Chinese.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:48 PM
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61: "ni ge" (which is approximately "your"..maybe "na ge", "that"?) and "mei you" (don't have/not) are the two phrases I look for if I'm hearing a foreign language but not clearly enough to immediately identify it as Mandarin.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:48 PM
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62: It's true in Mandarin, where "na ge" is basically used like "um" or "like" in English to fill any pause; I don't know about Cantonese.

63: "Mei you" is basically the only thing I understand. Heard it a lot when people were ordering in restaurants.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:53 PM
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I think 58 does a great job of setting out the issues, and that Colbert's writers, and people who think that the joke was not problematic at all (but who think of themselves as of reasonably good will on racial issues), are relying on a combination of a belief that "Asian Americans are not seen by mainstream white Americans to have suffered from racial discrimination to the same extent as other minorities", and that the slurs used are ones that don't, in your terms, "bleed".

And I don't, myself, have a strong opinion one way or the other -- when I finally looked up the offensive joke, I wouldn't have noticed it as shockingly offensive myself if no one else had reacted to it, but I certainly wouldn't defend it as obviously anodyne in the face of people who are offended.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:55 PM
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59 & 60: Originally I was going to post that with Chinese Communism being not very Communistic, I'd expect there to be more straight up racism and less hiding behind anti-Communism these days. But given 60 maybe I should reconsider--I have no clue what most Americans think the governance of China is like. The fact that it's economy is growing is well known, but I guess that doesn't mean they know "Communism with Chinese characteristics" is pretty capitalist.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:56 PM
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64: We have a surprisingly similar level of Chinese competence.

I agree completely with 65.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:59 PM
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61/63 in Mandarin na ge (pronounced nay-guh) means "that" (deictic) and it's used as generally filler like "um," so people use it frequently and repeat it over and over until they think of what they want to say. I don't know Cantonese, but they might have a similar sounding construction.

My guess is that "ching chong" as a stereotype for Chinese actually does come from Cantonese, because you're right that Mandarin sounds nothing at all like it, and most immigrants pre 1980s were from Canton. Cantonese has more tones, making it more "sing-songy" and lots of glottal stops, making it sound a little more "chopped" [note: these are potential sound qualities attributed by non-speakers, not what I think about Cantonese or any actual attempt to describe the language.] Ironically, I've heard Mandarin speakers in China making fun of Cantonese using similar sounds to our "fake" Chinese.

In terms of your trip to China, was it your first time? What did you think? Did you go to Wuhu?


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 3:59 PM
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61 I think "n" which sounds a lot like ŋ is the only syllable-ending consonant, isn't it? So that explains some of the ching and the chong.

I watched the Rosie O'Donnell clip yesterday and cringed. I mean doing a dumb imitation of someone's language is hardly the most destructive thing, but it's creepy and assholish.

Weeks ago on a bus through Alameda I heard some people who looked like they might be Central Asian speaking a language completely unknown to me with tons of fricatives and affricates and I wondered if it might be Mongolian since there are a couple of places downtown with signs in Mongolian, so I emailed a friend who did her linguistic anthro research in Buryatia and and she said yep that's probably Mongolian and I felt for a moment like my intellect hadn't withered fully.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:01 PM
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ha, pwned by 64. I think there's value added by some pedantic armchair linguistic statements in my comment though.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:03 PM
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61: Mandarin has both n and ŋ, which were taught to me as front and back nasals respectively. ŋ probably ends fewer than a third of Mandarin syllables, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:03 PM
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My friend who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese said Toisanese sounds to her like maybe M/C sound to an English speaker.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:03 PM
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68.last: it was my first time there. I was only in Beijing; we were visiting a physics center there. I really enjoyed it; the air quality was unusually good almost the whole time, so the main complaint I've heard from other people about Beijing didn't apply. The food was pretty great, although less qualitatively different from good Chinese restaurants in the US than I was expecting. The academic culture is a little insular and overly hierarchical, but the students were enthusiastic and fun to talk to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:03 PM
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69.last: Probably just the cold water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:06 PM
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71: But doesn't n sound rather like ŋ? I know "hen hao" is pronounced in a way that strikes my ear as /hʌŋ/ and if this is so, that's quite a lot of syllables ending that way. Even if it's 1/3 for ŋ, to a speaker of a language where syllables end in basically any consonant, that would stereotype the sound of the language, no?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:07 PM
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essear hadn't been to China?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:08 PM
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I didn't get how the ching chong thing was supposed to resemble "Chinese", since I heard mandarin growing up, until I'd heard Cantonese.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:11 PM
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69
I emailed a friend who did her linguistic anthro research in Buryatia and and she said yep that's probably Mongolian and I felt for a moment like my intellect hadn't withered fully.

Hmm...I think I know this person. Unless there are tons of linguistic anthropologists working in Buryatia.

You're right that Mandarin only has n/ng* consonant finals, which would support that fake Chinese as making fun of Mandarin. I'm not an expert in Cantonese linguistics, but AFAIK Cantonese preserves Middle Chinese P/T/K stops, or at least some of them, and they also have a bilabial nasal final (m). Don't know if they also have /ng/. Also qing, chong, ding, and dong are all actual Mandarin words. I would argue the prosody and sound qualities of fake Chinese mimic Cantonese more.

*sorry too much of a pain to type in IPA right now


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:12 PM
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71: I hear it as /hən/, possibly /həːn/ due to being third tone. Or maybe I just think I'm hearing it that way.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:12 PM
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79 -->75, -/->71


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:13 PM
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65.1: Maybe not so much not having suffered as having reached a status akin to Irish or Italian or Norwegian or whatever.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:14 PM
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Hmm, now that I thing about it ng is a common Cantonese last name, so clearly they have the ng phoneme. Don't know how common it is as a final though. I'm studying a dialect that has velar nasal initials, which is tons of fun.

The n/ng distinction isn't present in all Mandarin dialects. Most southern dialects, including Taiwanese Mandarin, don't have it.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:18 PM
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(Which would be true, if at all, for only a smallish subset of Asian-Americans (particularly Hawaii and West Coast Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans), and is not unproblematic in other ways, but may still be part of what's going on.)


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:20 PM
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I guess this kind of makes me a dick just for asking, but since I'm already semi-defending the peeing on table female lacrosse players today, is Wuhu pronounced WooHoo! Because that would be great, best city name ever.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:21 PM
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82.last: Woah, did not know that. The "dialect" space of Chinese is so huge.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:22 PM
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84: Close enough.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:22 PM
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What if I went to Wuhu and just started high-fiving and WhooHoo! and finger-gunning everyone I saw, racist or no? I'm going to say semi-racist. Definitely idiotic. But worse than Rosie? What if I did it from a place of love?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:25 PM
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You know I didn't really expect to be spending work hours in my late thirties writing these kinds of comments on a public blog.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:26 PM
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And they say there are no second chances in America.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:28 PM
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Hmm...I think I know this person. Unless there are tons of linguistic anthropologists working in Buryatia.

One suspects not. Married to another academic who does like...Buddhism or something?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 4:59 PM
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90

Possibly? I don't know this person all that well.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 5:05 PM
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Grrr. Someone stole my girlfriend's bag, including her passport, wallet, and laptop, from her office today when she stepped out to use the bathroom. I guess it's too much to hope that a typical thief would realize the importance of a passport, and the complete lack of monetary value it has, and return it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 5:47 PM
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I mean I've seen her once in the last decade. We sang in the same choir and I find her to be a lot of fun. We catch up once in a while on fb.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 5:48 PM
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And it was her only photo ID, so I don't think I can even send her cash via Western Union or anything since she wouldn't be able to claim it. Apparently her bank told her it could take up to a week to reissue debit and credit cards.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 5:49 PM
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Ugh, that's awful.

Tomorrow I go to a conference in a city where the high today was 101 °.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 5:58 PM
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Yikes, essear. Does her bank maybe have a copy of her driver's license on file so they can release money to her? Or could you wire money to a friend?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:03 PM
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She wasn't sure which of her coworkers are in town right now, but she'll check tomorrow and probably one of them can loan her some money, or I could wire money to one of them. I don't know about the bank; she has a photo of her passport stored in her gmail account, but I'm not sure how useful that is.

The money and laptop issues will be easy enough to sort out, but the passport seems like a big pain. Her parents have her Chinese national ID card, so they can probably mail it to her and she can take it to the consulate and use it to get a new passport. But I guess the visa can't be easily replaced, so she'll probably have to cancel some international travel she was going to do this summer.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:12 PM
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I've been telling her she should get a driver's license or a state ID card so that she isn't always relying on her passport, but this wouldn't be a good time to say "I told you so".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:13 PM
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I don't really understand that; to me it seems like a visa should have some existence independent of the actual physical piece of paper attached to a particular passport, and shouldn't be invalidated just because the passport is lost, but I guess having some electronic record that it exists is probably too reasonable a thing for our government to do.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:19 PM
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98: You should write a relationship book.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:33 PM
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How terrible! Does she have a photocopy/scan of her passport? Depending on her visa, she might have had to send a scan over her passport & visa page to them, which she might have in an email or they might have on file somewhere. Getting your stuff stolen abroad is a nightmare.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 6:54 PM
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She's in the US now and has a scan of her passport but not the visa page. She just renewed the visa two or three weeks ago in Beijing. I wouldn't think the TSA would allow someone to board a flight with a scan of a passport. So I guess in order to get a new passport she'll have to get to NYC by train or bus and go to the Chinese consulate. What a mess.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 7:26 PM
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I don't know that this applies to non Americans, but I've boarded a flight more than once with no legal identification. I just walked up to TSA with whatever I had and asserted truthfully that I had lost my ID. It's the kind of thing people won't tell you is possible ahead if time, but is totally possible. I've also had a thief abandon a passport which was then returned to me.


Posted by: tia | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 8:30 PM
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TSA says you can indeed fly without ID (you'll have to answer questions and get searched), but although they don't mention it, I'm almost positive that that's only for domestic travel. And in my experience, there's a fair bit of personal discretion in how helpful consulate staff can be, so it's worth being extra nice and trying to get the visa sorted out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 9:10 PM
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I've also had a thief abandon a passport which was then returned to me.

This, BTW, can be a pain in the ass if the person doesn't make a police report in the jurisdiction where the stuff was taken. If you make a report and give them a good phone number getting your stuff back to you can go a lot quicker. If the person is in the area it's often quicker to just drive the stuff over to them rather than go book it into evidence.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 9:24 PM
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TSA says you can indeed fly without ID (you'll have to answer questions and get searched), but although they don't mention it, I'm almost positive that that's only for domestic travel.

Which seems to be what is needed in this case (to get from wherever she is now to the consulate in New York), so hopefully this will work out for her. Also, that TSA blog post is surprisingly jokey.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 2-14 9:49 PM
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78, 82: based on nothing more than a knowledge of Hong Kong geography, Cantonese definitely has syllables ending P and K, because the airport's called Chek Lap Kok. Also N and NG, obviously, and M (Lam Tin MTR stop). And T is a terminal in syllables like ngit and hyut, though if I remember it's pronounced more like a glottal stop than a voiced T.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 3:35 AM
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105: She only reported it to university police since it was stolen at the university where she works. I was wondering if that was a mistake.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 3:43 AM
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This thread has moved on, but if you want a sense for why anti-Asian slurs get treated from anti-Black slurs, you can look at these numbers for average family income:


Asian American : $68,089
Pacific Islands American : $ 58,859
White American : $ 54,857
Total Population : $ 51,914
Native American : $ 38,806
African American : $ 35,341

Or maybe prison populations, where I think the discrepancies are even greater.

The idea that there is a unified 'people of color' group which shares interests against Whitey is basically silly.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:18 AM
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109: OT, but I'm surprised by that second number. Does that just reflect the high cost of living in Hawaii?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:21 AM
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Me too. But a lot of people from Hawaii are Japanese and not poor. Actually a fair number are white too. I wonder how the classification works.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:26 AM
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Salon interviews Park.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:36 AM
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True, but I dot think that's relevant in determining that number as people who identify as ethnically Japanese would be in the Asian American category. I usually see Pacific Islander ("Islands" is appropriate now?) American bundled with Asian American, but if they're going to decouple it I would assume it means people who are ethnically Polynesian/Melanesian/Micronesian. In practice I suspect that means mostly Hawaiian or Samoan, and more so the former. So if most PI Americans are ethnic Hawaiians who live in Hawaii, that could explain why it's so high even if they're not particularly rich in their locale.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:43 AM
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The wikipedia page I got the info in 109 from is interesting. Apparently it's Filipinos (?) and Taiwanese who are pulling up the pacific islands averages. Wouldn't have predicted Filipinos to be so well off, but there are a lot of ethnic Chinese from the Phillipines who would be classified as Filipino in the U.S. -- e.g. that is the background of 'Tiger Mother' Amy Chua.

Park is Korean, and per that page Koreans are actually one of the lower income American-Asian groups, down there with the Thais, around the white average. Maybe that's why she's pissed. Of course a lot of this is just about what group in the home country is being selected for immigration to the U.S.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:43 AM
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And yes, Hawaiian are up at almost $61K.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:45 AM
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Wow, the median native Hawaiian household makes 61K! That's really surprising to me. I was guessing that PGD's numbers would have been driven by Filipino's (mis-)identifying as Pacific Islanders, but it's actually that Native Hawaiians are much much richer than other Native groups.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:46 AM
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Apparently it's Filipinos (?) and Taiwanese who are pulling up the pacific islands averages.

Counting people originating from mainland China as Asian-American and people originating from Taiwan as Pacific Islander is nuts.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:46 AM
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It's mean, which is sufficient reason for anyone to be pissed, regardless of how much money other people of their (continental!) ethnic background make. I don't have any problem with an effort to establish the norm that anti-Asian slurs are as vile as Anti-Semitic slurs. And if a comedian or two have to endure a month of harangue to get that done, them's the breaks.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:48 AM
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The "definition" does not include Filipinos or Taiwanese, but since forms don't have the definition it seemed likely to me that many Filipino's might (logically) pick Pacific Islander anyway. But I don't think that's really what's going on. In fact on the census most Pacific Islanders are Hawaiian and the rest are Samoan.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:49 AM
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The idea that there is a unified 'people of color' group which shares interests against Whitey is basically silly.

Also that there is a unified "Asian American" group. People whose ancestors arrived from Japan or China in the 19th century don't necessarily share a whole lot of interest with recent immigrants from Southeast Asia.

110, 111: Local Japanese /= Pacific Islander. Pacific Islander picks up all the Samoans and Tongans in the NFL and in the Utah, but also the Micronesians, so I'm having a hard time buying that number. It may be an artifact of small sample size and mixed ancestry.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:50 AM
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Sorting by race is always going to get nutty results in a significant chunk of the cases.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:50 AM
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"The Utah"?? More coffee needed....


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:50 AM
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116: DaveLHI would know this better than I would, but isn't there a fair amount of the old-money upper class in Hawaii that's either mostly or partially Native Hawaiian, and a social atmosphere where someone with a fairly small percentage of Native Hawaiian ancestry is likely to identify as such? We're talking median, not mean, so a few very rich people shouldn't pull that up, but still, I think the socioeconomic dynamics there are complicated.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:54 AM
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(When I say "isn't there" I mean, "I have a vague impression, I'm not sure what the source is." It is perfectly possible that the answer is "No, there isn't.")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:58 AM
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118: not sure that in context it was mean, it was mocking Snyder. Substitute 'kike' for 'ching-chong' in there and I don't really have a problem. (Although that would be unlikely, as I think about it, which says something about the relative power and influence among groups that are already relatively well-off/powerful). It's just all that all Park's rhetoric about oppressed people of color being taken advantage of by white 'allies' is ridiculous and silly. She's basically as much a white 'ally' of blacks as a European-American is.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:00 AM
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123 was my first thought too, but the median thing convinced me it wasn't all that relevant. I'm pretty sure that phenomenon is a real one (according to wikipedia investigations after watching "The Descendants"), but my assumption was it was pretty small numerically.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:01 AM
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Thanks for the clarification, all.

Calling Taiwanese Pacific Islander is indeed a little insane (with the possible exception of Taiwanese Aborigines, which are a very small portion of the population).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:03 AM
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123: Yup. More with a little bit of ancestry than lots, but some of both. And I don't know how widely it's spread, but for a lot of purposes here, Hawaiian ancestry is a separate check box in addition to the basic "what do you identify as?" question. I was trying to remember if Steve and Dan Case are/were part Hawaiian, for instance.

But I still have a hard time making sense of that number. Statistically here, Native Hawaiians still come out closer to the bottom, but maybe Hawaii's median income is enough to explain that.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:04 AM
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124 should probably be a general appendix to everything I say.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:04 AM
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I think the second factor might play into it -- a high percentage of biracial Native Hawaiian/white people who are being counted in that median, but who, while they may not be super-rich, are largely successful middle class? Looking at the census says that 10% of the Hawaiian population is Pacific Islander, and 23% is multiracial, but doesn't break down categories of multiracial.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:07 AM
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130 crossed with 128, but that's what I was thinking -- that that median is including a lot of socially-white upper middle class people who check the Hawaiian box because of a great-grandfather in the early 20th C.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:09 AM
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125 -- I agree that the Colbert thing serves as an excuse to make the point, just as your proposed substitution of kike would be -- you might not care, but I think we can be quite sure that lots of people would care, and would say something.

Colbert should find a way to say "the racist legacy of George Preston Marshall" at least 5 times in 3 minutes. Twice with "continuing" and twice with "honoring" -- and maybe you've got another verb that is even better for the last one.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:11 AM
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after watching "The Descendants"

That movie came up here some time back but I hadn't seen it yet. Having now seen it: first reaction was that it was better than most. More considered reaction was that it used George Clooney's charisma to patch over huge holes in his character's development and was still just using Hawaii as a backdrop. The settings are more authentic, but the people kind of aren't, and what's especially missing is stuff like the amount of color variation you'd expect to see in a large family gathering.

Also George's run from his house to his friend's is not geographically accurate. That left turn at the first stop sign he comes to would take him up the valley, not down toward where he's going. But the goat is real.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:14 AM
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"Kike" is interesting, because I think that in Britta's terms, while you'd get a lot of people who'd think that current anti-semitism isn't a big deal in the current US, Jews are doing just fine, I think you'd also get broad agreement among people who are familiar with them as slurs at all that anti-semitic slurs do 'bleed' strongly: that the word 'kike' stays shockingly unpleasant almost regardless of context. I don't think it would have occurred to Colbert to do a 'kike' version of his joke rather than a 'ching-chong' version.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:17 AM
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I'm around a lot of spoken Chinese all the time, I assume the vast majority of the time it is Cantonese, and have never once thought anyone was saying n****r, so the rest of you just have racist minds. Probably dirty too. And the Chinese commonly spoken in Paris sounds very odd to me, I assume because Cantonese not dominant there? Disorienting.

From working with many recent immigrant kids from all the heck over the place in Asia, almost exclusively from very straightened circumstances, I think the whole model minority thing is complete bunk, basically a convenient way for the dominant majority to write itself a free pass and that Asian Americans are subject to a significant amount of discrimination.

I would link to a hilarious sketch from a comedy something competition re encounter between clueless casually racist white dude and Korean American woman out jogging, but on phone and have no idea how to copy URL, but it is worth googling.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:21 AM
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It's a Ken Tanaka Presents sketch, "What Kind of Asian Are You?"


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:28 AM
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If I point out that you probably want "straitened circumstances", dq, I hope you will believe that it is done with love and enthusiasm for words.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:35 AM
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I disagree with 134!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:36 AM
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Thank you! Perils of phone typing.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:36 AM
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Disorienting.

Racist!


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:53 AM
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I think for purposes of understanding Asian American life in the US one really has to treat Hawaii as basically being a different country. For example, there's the (correct me if I'm wrong) tendency for Japanese Hawaiians to be populist democrats, for Chinese Hawaiians to be business Republicans.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:01 AM
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I hope you will believe that it is done with love and enthusiasm for words.

Just as Nixon hoped when he said "I am not a crook."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:06 AM
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Just as Nixon hoped when he said "I am not a crook."

"You won't have Nixon's love and enthusiasm for words to kick around anymore."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:08 AM
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138: Just what you'd expect from a-

Wait, what's that?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:11 AM
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141: You're wrong.


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:18 AM
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there's the (correct me if I'm wrong) tendency for Japanese Hawaiians to be populist democrats, for Chinese Hawaiians to be business Republicans.

A little oversimplified. Japanese Hawaiians are disproportionately represented among state employees, and therefore in the public employees union, and therefore in Democratic politics. But that should not be mistaken for populism as such. There are prominent Chinese-Hawaiian businesspeople, but they are as likely to be country club Democrats as Republicans. IMLE.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:42 AM
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Substitute 'kike' for 'ching-chong' in there and I don't really have a problem.

I call analogy ban! In fact, 'kike' is an overt racial slur in a way that 'ching-chong' is not. Had Colbert used the word "chink," nobody would be wondering why he is catching so much flak (even though that slur is much more directly analogous to 'Redskin').

All analogies in this sphere are going to be fraught. Anti-semitism is different in its history and modern expression from other forms of racism, which are in turn different from each other. I have said before that like the apochryphal eskimos and their snow, Americans need 30 words for racism.*

Park here adopts - seemingly consciously - a common rightwing technique: Aggressively refusing to make distinctions. She might as well have said "I don't even see comedy.**

*Analogy! I'm banned.
**Stop me before I analogize again!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:30 AM
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Had Colbert used the word "chink," nobody would be wondering why he is catching so much flak

I am basically unconvinced by all of the alternate-universe scenarios floated in this discussion (not just here; in general). I don't think it's obvious that the conversation would be greatly different with the difference suggested above, or that Colbert would never ever have considered running the same joke with "kike" or "nigger" or any number of other things that people have suggested would definitely play out one way or another.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:38 AM
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I call analogy ban! In fact, 'kike' is an overt racial slur in a way that 'ching-chong' is not. Had Colbert used the word "chink," nobody would be wondering why he is catching so much flak (even though that slur is much more directly analogous to 'Redskin').

I think this is the crux of the matter. Is "ching chong ding dong" a taboo phrase, which cannot be parodied, like other ethnic slurs, or is it something that is a racist stereotype which can be mocked?
An argument for the latter might be this excellent parody of "ching chong" based on "Asians in the library," but of course it is done by a Chinese American comedian, and in racial parody identity really does count.

Again, my guess is the reason he picked Asians in this particular instance is he has been called out for Asian stereotyping in the past, and, analogous to Dan Snyder, he is offering a non-apology "apology" which repeats the offensive term. (Though, the subtext could be read as a sort of apology, since through parody he's acknowledging his original term was offensive.) However, the question lies is why did Colbert ever have an Asian racist caricature (named Ching Chong Ding Dong) on his show in the first place? As a very adept white male comedian, it's hard to picture doing minstrelsy or playing an anti-Semitic Jewish caricature, even in the role of white racist. From the more thoughtful stuff I've read on the issue, the discomfort wasn't at the parody, which was well done, but at the original character itself.

One doesn't have to see "ching chong ding dong" as a taboo word to question why it does seem to be the case that anti-Asian stereotyping is more acceptable in the mainstream than other racial stereotyping.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 1:09 PM
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I've been meaning to comment in this thread, but finding it hard, since I honestly have very little experience with anti-Asian slurs.

IME, there is anti-Asian discrimination, but it tends to be unspoken. In the professional science-y circles I know, no one is going to make fun of you for being Asian, but people will assume that you lack good communication skills, have lower professional status, and are generally not an important person to start a conversation with. (This is despite the fact that Asians are a high-income group in the US, and the fact that there are very well-known Asian scientists. Within science, everyone already has pretty high socioeconomic status, and the Asian stereotype in your typical university department is set not by a few famous professors, but by the large numbers of Asian grad students.)

Coming back to the point raised in the OP (about whether to emphasize "self-help" for overcoming racism, or the fact that some parts of the problem are systemic and not individual): I think Asians as a group have focused heavily on the "self-help" approach, assimilation into American society, etc., and this is part of the reason why we can have these puzzled discussions about whether "ching chong" is offensive. Of course it is offensive! But fighting over cultural norms just hasn't seemed like a winning strategy. Likewise, with regard to stuff like college admissions (is this not the CLASSIC Asian-American discrimination problem?), the solution has been to pile on more extracurricular activities, rather than trying to change the system. Maybe there is a certain pessimism about whether such broad change is even possible.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 5:58 PM
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Maybe there is a certain pessimism about whether such broad change is even possible.

This is sort of where Lee and I come down in most of our conversations about how to try to improve racialized things the girls might face. I'm really glad you chimed in, torrey pine. (I also noticed you were conspicuously absent from the allergies conversation, though, presumably out of some sort of tree pollen solidarity.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:04 PM
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Actually, I'm just really behind on everything... work, housekeeping, Unfogged. (What else is there in life?)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:09 PM
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this is part of the reason why we can have these puzzled discussions about whether "ching chong" is offensive

That is not the puzzled conversation people are having.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:25 PM
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But to pick at that is beside the point. Sorry!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:26 PM
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153: I think he meant "we" Asian-Americans, not the good but generally white folks of unfogged.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:27 PM
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Oh, I thought he meant the broad, general mishigas here, there, everywhere.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:31 PM
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Of course Mr. Ding Dong is not Colbert's only racist caricature. So I'm not convinced that there's something unique about his treatment of Asians.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:31 PM
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I'M HELPFUL! ASK ME MORE ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE MEAN. WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU MEANT, YOURSELF? CAN I HELP YOU WITH THAT?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:34 PM
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(Anyway, that is to say: sorry, again.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:46 PM
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"Kike" would be hard to get away with but "Kikey" would be pretty easy.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:49 PM
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That's some kikey hair-splitting, k-sky.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:52 PM
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The shit you learn when you look in a mirror.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 6:59 PM
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159: No worries.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:03 PM
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You know what job I think most people could really see themselves doing?

Polishing mirrors.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:14 PM
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The Asian-American stereotyping that seems to be most commonly directed towards people who look more "Asian" than I do is the assumption that you aren't from the US and didn't grow up with English as a native language. Outright slurs don't seem that common, though I remember hearing the ching chong thing as a kid.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:18 PM
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Someone explain #BuildDontBurn to me. I am old. As far as I can tell it's short for #CancelColbertMadeEveryoneFeelTooMuch.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:19 PM
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Late to the thread, but every dataset I've looked at shows significant differences in household size by race/nativity so some of that "household income" for Asian-Americans above is almost certainly an artifact of 1) larger average household size, specifically 2) having more adult wage-earners in the household.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is doing a detailed series of reports spelling out the truly appalling poverty and unemployment rates for subgroups of AAPIs (eg Cambodians). Here's the one on the Northeast US (NY, Boston, Phila.)

I found Colbert's bit offensive because comedy should be about punching up, not kicking down. There is no reasonable definition under which you could say he was punching up.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:31 PM
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isn't there a fair amount of the old-money upper class in Hawaii that's either mostly or partially Native Hawaiian, and a social atmosphere where someone with a fairly small percentage of Native Hawaiian ancestry is likely to identify as such?

There's a similar phenomenon in Alaska, although it's not so much old-money upper class (which doesn't really exist here) as professional UMC. Most Alaska Native groups have experienced extensive assimilation and intermarriage, in some cases for centuries, so a lot of people who identify as Native don't necessarily look any different from people who identify as white. In addition, the peculiar institutional structure of Alaska provides enormous opportunity for smart, ambitious Natives. The end result is immense diversity within the Native population in pretty much every possible way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:31 PM
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dan snyder isn't up from colbert?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:32 PM
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166: Respectability politics. "Be a MLK building things up and not a Malcom X burning them down."* Aka "Why do you activists have to be so NEGATIVE all the time?"

*Correct, many of the people proposing this have no idea what MLK or MX actually wrote or supported.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:33 PM
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169: Dan Snyder is up, Asian-Americans (as a class) are not.

I went to see stand-up comic Hari Kondabolu last night. In contrast, his Washington Racial Slurs joke entailed a lengthy meditation on how white people would feel if he created a team called the Washington Your Dead Grandfathers, and used a logo of a disembodied white man's head.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:35 PM
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167: I think there's a reasonable, and fairly obvious, sense under which Colbert was "punching up" -- the primary target of the joke was Dan Snyder, the rich white guy with the foundation with a racial slur in the name. There's a good argument that Colbert's joke was still unacceptable, but not because he was completely failing to target people in structurally powerful positions.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:40 PM
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I took colberts bit as directed at snyder.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:40 PM
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Also, I don't think anyone linked Julia Carrie Wong's piece yet. It's a little disjointed, but gets stronger as it goes along, I think.

A few interesting bits:

We have been told that, even if Colbert's joke hurt the feelings of some Asian Americans, it was all in furtherance of a greater good--the education of people within his audience who did not realize that the name "Redskins" is an offensive slur until it was compared to anti-Asian slurs. This narrative strikes me as particularly specious. It rests on weighing the education of a group of people who have been hypothesized into existence as more important than the experience of a group of people who are actually speaking out to express their discomfort.

And:

We have been told that Colbert's joke was aimed at the abhorrent racism of the name of the Washington football team, and that bringing up the question of racism aimed at Asian Americans is a distraction that will hurt the cause of Native Americans. This is a charge that would be easier to swallow were it not that so many of the writers putting forward this argument have never written about changing the name of the team themselves. Park and many of her fellow #CancelColbert tweeters have a history of engaging in Twitter activism against the team's name alongside Native American activists: See #NotYourMascot as one example.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:41 PM
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I think 172 is just wrongity wrong wrong, although I'm sure many people believe it.

Suggesting that someone's role in your joke is just collateral or peripheral to the actual "punching up" at a white guy that you were doing is practically the definition of kicking down.

It's saying "The insult I delivered to you shouldn't be taken personally, because I was just using you."


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:45 PM
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Can we agree that there is an element of punching up present? That Snyder was a target of the joke, if not the sole target? I'm not arguing that Snyder being targeted makes the racial aspect of the joke okay, or justifies it, but discussing I as if the problem were that there was no aspect of it that attacked the powerful is just false.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:50 PM
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I agree that was Colbert's intent, and what many people think he was doing. I disagree that that was the actual effect of what he was doing.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:52 PM
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I'm not even sure how to engage here... Obviously the target of the joke was Snyder. That's where all the humor comes from.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 7:53 PM
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177: Fair enough -- I was reacting to your "no reasonable definition." If we're talking about the total net effect of the joke, I'll certainly agree that using a racial slur made it damaging and a bad thing to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:01 PM
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how white people would feel if he created a team called the Washington Your Dead Grandfathers, and used a logo of a disembodied white man's head

Maybe something a little like this?


Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:04 PM
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170: where did it come from?

I happen to think that Witt is right, just that "There is no reasonable definition under which you could say he was punching up" is maybe not a useful place to start from.

There is a commonly accepted definition, and as your Wong quote points out, it depends on the audience and the comic assuming that insulting Asian-Americans to make an anti-racist point will not cause offense to Asian-Americans. The point of #CancelColbert is that this is not a reasonable assumption.

/tonepolicin'


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:13 PM
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Hari Kondabolu is awesome. (His Conan appearance was a bit stiff, but there were some good bits in it. This bit from Totally Biased is very good.)

Witt, you would like my man Nato.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:16 PM
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It wasn't clear to me from reading say Park's article that anyone was actually offended by the joke, but instead that some activists thought it was a good opportunity for free press (and it appears they were right). Given that there was no negative reaction to the show airing (or airing again the next day 4 times), it's really not clear that it did cause offense.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:18 PM
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174.2 - That part may be true about Park, but it is sure as hell not true about Deadspin, which (correctly) views him as exceptionally loathsome even among the parasitic class of NFL owners.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:19 PM
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Here's a pretty good rant about a very similar scenario, the "Ted Rall hates black people" imbroglio of December 2013. Features many examples of representative tweets from those who live to express knee-jerk outrage.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:28 PM
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OK, I'm modifying it: There is no reasonable definition under which you could say the net effect of the joke was punching up.

And yes, watching Totally Biased clips is a good way to relax and laugh. Hard to go wrong with that.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 8:35 PM
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So are the people objecting to the Colbert thing basically saying targeting racism with satire is off limits? Because an exaggerated parody of racism is pretty much by definition going to involve saying something racist.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:29 PM
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Remember that Park has (still) never watched the clip, so I think it's hard to say that her goal was to say anything about parody.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:41 PM
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Well, the tweet was also parody.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 9:47 PM
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I haven't watched Colbert for at least a year, and don't care about the particulars, but as a general point I think if you're going to target racism with satire by using racist discourse then you should be prepared to find yourself having to defend and possibly be defensive about that usage. If you're surprised that people would react negatively about someone using ching chong language in public, you haven't been paying attention. Ask Shaq.*

*Different context, but racist terms generally get negative reactions in any public context.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:02 PM
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From what I gathered in the relevant blogosphere, people weren't necessarily offended by this particular instance of satire, but saw it as an opportunity to bring up questions of Asian stereotypes in the media and anti-Asian racism in general. The Colbert/Park exchange was simply a jumping off point for an issue that rarely gets brought up. I didn't see people agreeing with Park's take on Colbert so much as wanting to discuss certain aspects this raised, such as why we find Asian, particularly Asian women's, anger so illegitimate or baffling, or why Asians are a "safer" minority to make fun of.

Washington Your Dead Grandfathers, and used a logo of a disembodied white man's head

This is a far kinder and gentler comparison than the one I would make. A better comparison would be if Australia had a cricket team called the Sydney Abos, or Germany had a soccer team called the Berlin Kikes, or the Turks had a team for [insert ethnic slur for Armenians here], and so forth. These names are all shocking and offensive (to the point that I deliberated actually typing them out instead of trying to make an oblique reference or euphamism), because "Washington Redskins" really should be that offensive to us. When committers of genocide then have a sports team named after an ethnic slur of the victims of genocide, and which involves a mascot and fans dressing up as racist stereotypes, it really should be seen by all right-thinking people as viscerally repugnant.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:18 PM
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You know, the team should be renamed Lost Cause. To honor George Preston Marshall and all those clinging to his legacy. They could have a Robert E Lee mascot.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:28 PM
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Lost Caws


Posted by: Roger Taney | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:42 PM
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I think we can all agree that the team should be named the Washington Gram-the-One-Eyed-Snakes.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 10:50 PM
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I wasn't going to get involved here, but: (a) there are plenty of legitimate claims Asian Americans can make about racism but (b) this isn't one of them and (c) it's a gigantic waste of time and energy and a self-involved clusterfuck that reveals the self-described "twitter activists" are mostly interested in getting attention through feigned outrage and that some of their supporters, including apparently here, are willing to swallow the fake-ass outrage of this non-existent controversy hook like and sinker. Sure, I don't get to set the agenda for Asian American race activism but that doesn't mean that these clowns do, either, or that you can't call out a fake, manufactured controversy when you spot one. There are real problems but this ain't one, the end.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:08 PM
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"Line"


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:09 PM
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I dunno, "hook, like, and sinker" seems like an apt phrase for the era of social media activism.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:12 PM
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I basically agree with 195. No one is actually offended, nobody doesn't get the joke, it's just something to do. In some sense Colbert is a good target because while he's not going to be fired, he might actually feel bad, while the only thing that could make Dan Snyder feel bad is syrup of ipecac.

(I suppose at this point in a game of telephone somebody now thinks Colbert hates Asians, so in that sense somebody is genuinely offended.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 3-14 11:35 PM
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I'm kind of amazed how much offense people are taking at the idea that someone might have been offended.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:23 AM
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199: I don't believe you, or you have never seen anyone respond to someone else being offended.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:10 AM
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I think I have some credible history of wanting people to fuck off and die when they find a joke offensive, and I was prepared to have that same reaction here, but I thought this write-up at the New Yorker, by a writer who is himself Asian, made the solid point that we should think about why Colbert's writers assumed that the Asian joke was the safe one here.

There's a long tradition in American comedy of dumping tasteless jokes at the feet of Asians and Asian-Americans that follows the perception that we will silently weather the ridicule. If I were to predict which minority group the writers of a show like "The Colbert Report" would choose for an edgy, epithet-laden parody, I'd grimace and prepare myself for some joke about rice, karate, or broken English. The resulting discomfort has nothing to do with the intentions of the joke or the political views of the people laughing at it. Even when you want to be in on the joke--and you understand, intellectually, that you are not the one being ridiculed--it's hard not to wonder why these jokes always come at the expense of those least likely to protest.

My guess is that in the world of liberal whites, Asian-Americans seem fully assimilated--they made it; they're white now. But the lived experience of Asian-Americans is quite different, and there are still plenty of things--like Colbert's joke--that remind them of being outsiders. Maybe the NYer piece smoothes the edges of twitter activism (how could it not?) but Park's point just seemed to be, hey, think for a minute about why you think this is ok. Seems like mission accomplished, and not just in an empty "I started a conversation" way, but in letting white people know that Asian-Americans aren't just white people whose grandmothers happened to make great pot stickers.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:16 AM
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think for a minute about why you think this is ok.

Again the point is that it isn't okay for anyone and therefore isn't okay for Snyder and his football team, not that "hey, it sure is nice that we can make fun of asian folks."

I totally disagree that the net effect is anything other than a punch in Snyder's eye.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:19 AM
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If I were to predict which minority group the writers of a show like "The Colbert Report" would choose for an edgy, epithet-laden parody, I'd grimace and prepare myself for some joke about rice, karate, or broken English.

I would have guessed the Indians, myself. US attitudes on acceptably making fun of subcontinentals are wildly different from those in the UK - watching the Simpsons was painful whenever Apu was a featured character.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:25 AM
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"twitter activists" are mostly interested in getting attention through feigned outrage

Yes. And feigned outrage is annoying, especially when delivered with the self-righteous moral preening common to people in their early 20s.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:08 AM
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watching the Simpsons was painful whenever Apu was a featured character.

I thought that as well, though I don't disagree that US audiences didn't exactly mind--mostly.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:28 AM
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190 seems to get it right. Using racist terms as anti-racist satire is great, but you've got to be prepared for it to backfire, and take it in good humor if it does. (Which Colbert seems to have.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:36 AM
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201: For whatever reason, this whole discussion reminded me of the time you defense of the creepy Duke lacrosse email.

I'm sure you're right that coastal white liberals overestimate the extent to which Asian Americans are assimilated, but this has got to be the worst joke possible to make that point. Since the joke's real target is loathsome, and any vaguely offensive ethnic joke would have worked as well, nobody is going to think for a minute on why they think it's okay. Instead, this is going to be the go-to anecdote for everyone who's vaguely liberal who wants to complain that PCness has run amok. Nobody changes their minds, everyone gets to feel self-righteous, and nothing is achieved.

Anyway, you don't like the joke because it violates the analogy ban.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:59 AM
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US attitudes on acceptably making fun of subcontinentals are wildly different from those in the UK - watching the Simpsons was painful whenever Apu was a featured character.

this is true.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:16 AM
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It's too bad Colbert couldn't have picked a subclass of white folks--say, Eastern Europeans (only coming to mind due to Jimmy Fallon's bad Putin impression). Or Irish or Italians. But that probably would have backfired as looking like a claim that some white folk are as disadvantaged as Native Americans, or conversely belittle the systemic racism against them as not a big deal. Never mind.

208: It's kind of amazing how much that has changed in the last 20 years. South Asians are much more visible in the United States than they used to be, so I think (hope) we're getting better about that.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:29 AM
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My repeated experience is that Twitter activism is a rapid, effective way to share concerns among people with similar experiences and to bring to wider public attention issues that have been previously ignored, minimized, or dismissed.

I am certainly familiar with the phenomenon of pot-stirring [cough], but every Twitter campaign I am familiar with has had a broader component of real-world activism.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:31 AM
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208 and preceding --- isn't this one of the possible reasons that Indian Americans are much darker about phrases like curry etc (referring to Ajay's puzzlement about curry as problematic?) than you would expect coming from a UK context? I could be wrong here, but it does seem like a real distinction between the UK and US, and one which explains some important differences.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:03 AM
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It's too bad Colbert couldn't have picked a subclass of white folks--say, Eastern Europeans (only coming to mind due to Jimmy Fallon's bad Putin impression). Or Irish or Italians. But that probably would have backfired as looking like a claim that some white folk are as disadvantaged as Native Americans, or conversely belittle the systemic racism against them as not a big deal. Never mind.

Yeah, it wouldn't have worked at all for the intended point. Basically, the options are: (a) play with fire in terms of collateral damage to make the point that something called the "Redskins' Original Americans Fund" should strike everyone as breathtakingly racist and tragicomically self-annihilating, (b) trying to find a white-person analogue, which avoids playing with fire but also completely backfires by way of making it all sound not that big of a deal, (c) be not a white dude and make the Colbert joke using stereotypes/epithets about your own underrepresented minority group, or (d) not go there at all.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:05 AM
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Ohhhh failure of parallel structure in (b) there.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:06 AM
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US attitudes on acceptably making fun of subcontinentals are wildly different from those in the UK - watching the Simpsons was painful whenever Apu was a featured character.

The Simpsons did the same with every ethnicity on that show. Groundskeeper Willie, the Italian mobsters, Luigi the restaurant owner, Uter the candy eating german kid, Akira the karate studio owner, Krusty's rabbi father, etc. At one point they literally visit Ethnictown complete with a gypsy woman and a vendors selling cholera and a baby.

And are US attitudes towards desis even much apparent in media? Maybe I'm not watching enough tv because the only examples that spring to mind are Apu and Kelly from The Office.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:16 AM
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Snyder was a target of the joke, if not the sole target?

This is the sort of thing that makes me want to explain a joke that I know you already understand. In no sense were Asians a target of this joke, and in fact, folks who make racist remarks about Asians were a direct target of the joke.

The question of whether Asians were victimized by Colbert's joke is a different discussion.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:25 AM
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I think if you're going to target racism with satire by using racist discourse then you should be prepared to find yourself having to defend and possibly be defensive about that usage.

Colbert was, in fact, prepared to defend himself, and did so.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:28 AM
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Kelly from the office is such a brilliant character.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:30 AM
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I mean, she got more one-dimensional as the show went on, but she's really great for the first half.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:30 AM
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214: There was that show a few years back that was around for a season about the great white hope who moves to India to run a call center...Outsourced, I think? It looked like a trainwreck (not the good kind) so I didn't stick with it long enough to see if the Indian characters transcended stereotypes.

215: They're collateral damage. We Americans have repeatedly shown that we're ok with some collateral damage to meet our goals.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:30 AM
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Also: Aziz Ansari!


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:31 AM
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Now "Kelly from the office" has morphed into "Jenny from the block". Don't be fooled by the rocks that I've got.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:32 AM
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220: god, Indians really are the best.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:32 AM
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I recognized Ansari as being on tv but without the internet wouldn't have known what show. But how could I have forgotten Aasif Mandvi, one of my favorite Daily Show correspondents.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:38 AM
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Mindy Kaling has a show of her own now. Her new character doesn't seem all that different from her character on The Office, though.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:38 AM
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218: I don't know if it occurs often enough to be a trend, but I've seen multiple cases where a long running comedy has an interesting character played by a minority who because increasingly one dimensional as the show goes on, but not necessarily in a way that plays into any stereotypes. The way they treated Cat in later seasons of Red Dwarf really disappointed me. This might be a more general problem with all characters in long running comedies, though.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:39 AM
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223: Oh, he's great! Is he still on it? I only watch the Daily Show when somebody links to a clip.

So, can we think of any South Asians with media presence in serious/dramatic roles? There were some on Heroes, but I think they were mostly Indo-British.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:41 AM
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This might be a more general problem with all characters in long running comedies, though.

Yeah, that's why it doesn't seem easy to draw conclusions from a character like Apu. Or, say, Raj on The Big Bang Theory. Horribly stereotyped and one-dimensional, but then, so are all the other characters.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:41 AM
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I thought Apu became less one-dimensional as the show went on, but I stopped watching a decade ago. Really, The Simpsons has an opposite problem: they have so many episodes they need to fill with content, so they give every background character a focus episode or two. By now, they probably have a season's worth of episodes on Hans Moleman.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:44 AM
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Reactions like 201 are why raising the issue is basically successful attention-grabbing trolling. I think most semi-conscious white people under 40 who have thought about the issue at all are aware of the existence of painful anti-Asian American jokes (including, say, 16 Candles or, yes, the Simpsons). But this joke is not that. Using this particular instance, in which you have a pretty obviois use/mention joke designed to highlight a particularly dickheadish football owner's blatant racism towards another group by putting the joke into the mouth of a parody of a right-wing buffoon, isn't actually responding to that concern. It's using it as an opportunity to generate fake outrage precisely because the outrage-generators know that a good chunk of the Colbert audience, and probably writing staff, are prepared to get themselves tied up in knots on these kinds of issues.

But the reality is that this particular incident is a gigantic bit of nothing. Playing on the tendency of liberals to worry about chickenshit bullshit to self-promote is not actually activism, and ultimately the takeaway from the purported "activism" is going to be "there are a few self-promoting Asian American activists who are into trolling and fanning flames over chickenshit bullshit." At least that's my reaction.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:44 AM
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Pinky Bhamra grew up and became a PI on The Good Wife.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:46 AM
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230: I can't believe that movie is twelve years old.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:49 AM
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Indian Americans are much darker about phrases like curry etc (referring to Ajay's puzzlement about curry as problematic?)

Oh, no, believe me, we have plenty of rude words for Indians (and Pakistanis) over here. I was puzzled because "curry" isn't one of them. Because everyone loves curry; it's the English national dish.
What I mean is that if you had an animated TV show in the UK, now or in the 1990s, in which the only desi character was an Indian corner shopkeeper who looked, acted and sounded like Apu, you would reap the whirlwind. You know the black housekeeper in the old Tom & Jerry cartoons? That's how he comes across.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:56 AM
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chickenshit bullshit

Stop appropriating my fecal cultures.


Posted by: OPRESSINATED CHICKENBULL | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:58 AM
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Exactly what 232 says. It was certainly possible to see stereotypes of that kind in 1970s and possibly early 80s TV, but it wouldn't be possible after that. That's not because Britain is a magically non-racist place, but mainstream TV, especially comedy, has been a difficult place to get away that sort of thing for quite a while.

You do still see what seem, slightly, to my eyes to be stereotypical characters, but they are in shows written by and starring British Asian actors/comedians. I'm think of things like The Kumars at No. 42, or Citizen Khan. Or the various works of Sanjeev Kholi [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanjeev_Kohli]. The latter is very hit and miss, but his radio sitcom can sometimes be fantastic [Fags, Mags, and Bags]. It's very Scottish, and is set in an environment that's very familiar to me [a small shop in a central belt town]


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:07 AM
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212 - I was saying to Rfts last night (violating the sanctity etc.) that the problem here is that doing the gag about white people is totally defanged and -- not that I've seen the bit, maybe it plays better than it reads -- that's why the Washington Your Dead Grandfathers fails as a funny gag or as a pointed commentary about Snyder and the Redskins. Look at the Fighting Whities of University of North Colorado, which in fact became something of a internet sensation because, honestly, look at those jerseys. Part of the way privilege actually plays out is that slurs against white people are more laughable than painful, and as various ethnic groups -- your honkies, your pollacks, your micks -- become assimilated into just reading as "white", those slurs become laughable too. Compare this bullshit to the notional Coachella Krauts featuring a dude in a Tyrolean eating sausages and tell me one isn't deeply racist and one isn't kind of funny.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:08 AM
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This conferencie is amazingly disorganized. Like, the website has been down for the past month, so I never looked at the schedule until yesterday. They ran out of conference programs and said "just look it up online!" Which you wouldn't be able to do, but I'd emailed them and they emailed me a program. But then they'd also run out of email logins. So I was missing my advisor's talk while they rummaged up a login id. Finically I got her, late, and there are 4 people in a huge auditorium. Yikes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:08 AM
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201: That article neatly captures my gripe with #cancelcolbert, The quoted bit lays it out nicely.

The author carefully explains the joke and shows that he gets it, and then tells us that it matters neither what Colbert intended nor what he achieved:

it's hard not to wonder why these jokes always come at the expense of those least likely to protest.

Well, no. As Kang just finished explaining, the joke was not made at the expense of Asians.

He gets more explicit about this later on:

#CancelColbert may have been silly and dumb and wrong in spirit, but it's worth asking if those of us who find it distasteful know as much about the intentions of the hashtag activists as we think we do.

Whether it's "silly and dumb and wrong in spirit" is beside the point. Colbert's remark was a direct reminder of the existence of Asian racist stereotypes, so the fact that he was ridiculing those stereotypes is irrelevant.

So everyone (including Park and Kang) gets the joke. Maybe Colbert needs to introduce jokes in this form with a trigger alert, for people who understand the intent and the effect of the joke, but for whom the joke nonetheless brings up unpleasant associations.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:10 AM
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So everyone (including Park and Kang) gets the joke.

I DON'T SEE WHAT'S SO FUNNY.


Posted by: Opinionated Kodos | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:22 AM
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white people whose grandmothers happened to make great pot stickers.

I tried to make pot stickers from my grandmother, but it was a godawful failure. Turns out that much past Medicare age, you're really only good for jerky any longer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:24 AM
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You don't bring attention to your cause with the occasions you want, you use the occasions you have. I get that the Curmudgeon Brigade thinks she's chosen a less than perfect opportunity. Not to worry, though, she's undoubtedly done no harm at all to her cause, and has probably moved the ball down field a little with more than a few people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:25 AM
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And even if she hadn't, that's how activism works. You take a bunch of shots, as opportunities arise, hoping one of them will break through.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:28 AM
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So, here's a question: National Conference of American Indians, more or less racist than Colbert?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:31 AM
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Conference s/b Congress, I guess.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:32 AM
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I guess this is why activism generally fails. The main accomplishment here is that Suey Park's name recognition is now much higher than it was a week ago.

Some people have also thought a bit more about how mock racism is problematic, and some people have thought a bit more about how outrage machines are full of shit. The second number probably exceeds the first.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:38 AM
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Classic Chris Rock bit.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:42 AM
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244 -- Individual acts fail, sure, but next time Park may have a better target, and will be able to leverage the increased name recognition.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:45 AM
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You don't bring attention to your cause with the occasions you want, you use the occasions you have.

Yup. As with Kang, this catches the precise point of disagreement. I think outrage about expressions of racism should be directed at expressions of racism, and not other things. It is possible to make these distinctions.

Park, meanwhile, has made it crystal clear that her choice in this was deliberate and that she has no misgivings. DB in 244.11 suggests that Park's activism has failed, but then points out in 244.12 how successful it was.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:45 AM
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I don't think there were any Indian Americans (or even Indian Indians) anywhere on US TV (aside from BBC imports on public broadcasting) prior to Apu on the Simpsons. The only one in a movie I can think of is the guy from Short Circuit (and its sequel?) plus a couple Peter Sellers roles. (The guy in The Millionairess is presented as thoroughly admirable, brownface aside. The guy in The Party not so much, though I haven't actually seen that one.)


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:55 AM
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Come to think, the BBC imports didn't have Indian Americans either.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:56 AM
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Also, Millionairess was apparently British and set in London. Totally lost that detail. Apparently did remember correctly that Sophia Loren was super hot.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:58 AM
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240: Park basically shoved Native Americans off the stage to draw attention to her issue. Literally any other opportunity would be better.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:58 AM
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247: That's a good point--if the cost of moving your cause a few inches is developing a public reputation as a whiney, self-serving jackass, that's a reasonable trade-off for a Real True Activist.

251: As reported upthread, she's worked on promoting some pro-Native American hashtags. Dunno if that sort of thing gets seen much outside the pre-existing progressive twitter sphere, though. But I do agree whatever work she did with that has been totally eclipsed by this incident. On the third hand, if she hadn't done this we probably wouldn't be talking about the Colbert joke at all, and maybe not about the Washington team.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:02 AM
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if she hadn't done this we probably wouldn't be talking about the Colbert joke at all, and maybe not about instead of the Washington team.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:06 AM
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251 Minority activists really don't need you to tell them when it's their turn to speak.;


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:08 AM
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I'm probably coming across as more grouchy than I am about this (my real position is who cares, stop wasting time) but I'm not seeing at all how this is in any sense "effective" activism. Personally, as a person broadly speaking extremely sympathetic to issues like this, I'm definitely (if slightly) more likely now to tune out "representations of Asians in the media" criticism when I know that there's a core group of folks who will get het up over basically nothing for the sake of gettin het up.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:09 AM
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- ;

I wasn't going for a winky emoticon there.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:09 AM
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254: Park is reading this thread?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:12 AM
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This quote from Elon Musk is really something:

"I was just having a meeting with my information security team, and they're great but they're pretty fucking weird -- one used to be a dude, one's super small, one's hyper-smart...."

I think it's the "super small" part that lifts it over the top from just a random assholish comment to something amazing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:12 AM
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my real position is who cares, stop wasting time

A bold stance for a frequent blog commenter to take.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:13 AM
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Well, I'm always in favor of self-loathing first.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:17 AM
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258: Geez, and the "hyper-smart" part. Not only does he see those first two people as freaks, he thinks they're relatively stupid team members. What the hell does he keep them around for?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:18 AM
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258 - Was he meeting his infosec team or Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:20 AM
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262: ...one's from the future, one has a prehensile tail, one's a brain in a vat...


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:21 AM
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262 was the image that came to my mind as well. I just assumed that Elon Musk specifically hired his infosec team based on how well they filled the Doom Patrol roles. His accounting department probably dress like the Invisibles.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:22 AM
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262: Ha! I was trying to figure out which superhero team best fit that description, but the Doom Patrol hadn't occurred to me. That works pretty well.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:22 AM
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"The successful applicant will have at least four bits of metal stuck in various parts of his face. Tesla Motors is an equal opportunity employer, but candidates with shaven heads will be preferred."


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:24 AM
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262: Please figure out how Danny the Street fits in and I will be so happy. I'm too busy today to work it out myself.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:31 AM
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she's worked on promoting some pro-Native American hashtags

I don't have many usefully non-curmudgeonly things to say about politics of representation, because I will usually just end up repeating myself, hedgehog style. The heat and ferment that issues of representation generate is I think a symptom of the fact that they're actually an arena in which left-liberals can win. Individuals and companies care about public reputation, and so you will often get people to walk back whatever they put forward and new norms around what's cool and not cool to say get established. The problem is that winning these battles around representation ends up compensating for how little left-liberals win in terms of reversing deeper, more structural injustices. #FireDuckyDynasty might work but #TaxCarriedInterestFairly not so much.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:32 AM
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#FireDuckyDynasty might work

Might, I guess, but in the event did not.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:33 AM
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the existence of painful anti-Asian American jokes (including, say, 16 Candles or, yes, the Simpsons).

Worth mentioning that you see "painful anti-Asian American" jokes in more contemporary movies. I remember being really surprised at The Five Year Engagement for having the one Chinese American character who was a crude racial stereotype in the worst way. I know that there have been a couple of other recent movies that have done the same thing -- having Asian characters who are stereotypes in a way that you couldn't imagine them doing with any other ethnic group.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:38 AM
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#FireKenJeong


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:43 AM
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Isn't the new sitcom Dads full of Asian stereotypes? That's the word of mouth.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:45 AM
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I basically have to agree with 244. At least from my perspective, the sum total of what's been achieved is that I'm now aware that someone named Park is apparently Angry On The Internet (tm).

Maybe it's just showing my age that I can't manage to care about twitter hashtags in general.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:47 AM
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#FireMatlock


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:48 AM
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271: My ex-wife went to high school with Ken Jeong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:57 AM
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#OffMyLawn #DamnKids


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:57 AM
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Maybe it's just showing my age that I can't manage to care about twitter hashtags in general.

I agree! Twitter hashtags are so 2013!


Posted by: Opinionated Tween | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:00 AM
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#NotYourAgingSidekick


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:00 AM
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277: the new thing is Snapchat samizdat.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:03 AM
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#Eschew#


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:04 AM
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#FireMatlock

OK, now there's a hashtag I can get behind.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:04 AM
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#BringBackCU-SeeMe


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:05 AM
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269 -- It was successful as a brushback pitch.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:54 AM
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then points out in 244.12 how successful it was.

Right, I pointed out how it wasn't successful at all.

An activist wants to reach Stephen Colbert fans who are watching a segment about how fucking offensive the Washington Redskins name is and engage with them on the topic of racism? What an insurmountable challenge requiring great courage and ingenuity! Is this how it felt to march in the south during the civil rights movement?


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:06 AM
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Right, I pointed out how it wasn't successful at all.

Yup. I was being a little jokey there, but I wanted to convey that you correctly identified the main accomplishment, and indeed what seems to be the main point of the exercise:

The main accomplishment here is that Suey Park's name recognition is now much higher than it was a week ago.

As she (and many of her defenders) point out, it doesn't matter if Colbert behaves in a fashion that a reasonable person could interpret as racist. The question is: Are people engaged by it. Are they interested in her.

I linked Park's interview with Salon in 112. I thought this part was revealing:

[I lost] $4,000 that I would have made in my speaking gigs and so to think that there's not a cost to pay to speak out, to become a sort of individualized leader, when tons of people are backing me, is very unfair and a symbolic move to try to quiet me.

That's decent money, and I feel pretty confident that she'll recoup it and then some. Mission accomplished.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:58 AM
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An activist wants to reach Stephen Colbert fans who are watching a segment about how fucking offensive the Washington Redskins name is and engage with them on the topic of racism? What an insurmountable challenge requiring great courage and ingenuity! Is this how it felt to march in the south during the civil rights movement?

This is well explored in the "Liberal Puritans" rant linked in 185.

I have a real pet peeve about certain people on Twitter who have mastered the art of saying wildly unfair and illogical things in exactly 140 characters, in a perfectly calibrated tone of wounded self-righteousness, such that it's impossible to respond in a tweet. Case in point (from someone who is great on economic issues)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:16 AM
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286: Okay, since you're not constrained by a character limit here, wanna explain what's unfair and illogical about that tweet?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:18 AM
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I can point out one thing! The "mainstream headline" being referred to is, I assume, this one, which is using it to make a point about the deflection of attention from Dan Snyder and which was written by two Korean-Americans. To cast it as a racist backlash to Park is pretty darn unfair and illogical.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:21 AM
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Oh great, now Sifu is saying women don't get logic.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:24 AM
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286.last: at the end of that thread, we see that that guy has a "liberal ally ship" and it isn't needed. I think having a whole ship full of allies would be pretty awesome, really. They could sail around hoisting liberal flags over foreign ports and whatnot.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:27 AM
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Well, I mean, it's a pretty nice trick when anything you say is retroactively made valid by the fact that racist idiots attack you for saying it.

That tweet in particular showed up about 24 hours into the controversy, and showed up in my timeline retweeted by someone who had expressly said 24 hours earlier "I'm going to hold off on this until I can tell whether people are actually offended or not".

The dynamic of the whole thing was just so predictable. Say something inflammatory, get attacked by yahoos. ANYTHING inflammatory she said on this subject will get her attacked by yahoos, whether it's valid or not.

I know white male defensiveness is one of my weaknesses. I have no idea why people constantly say things like "Hoo boy, rich white men are so happy with this McCutcheon decision", instead of "Rich people are so happy with this McCutcheon decision". It seems to totally invalidate the sentiment. But most people don't react this way.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:27 AM
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I glanced at the link in 286 and oh God is that exhausting. People really debate this shit over Twitter?

I basically had 3 reactions to the #CancelColbert thing. First, what a stupid ploy for attention. Second, well there's a good point underneath it, why is it OK for Colbert to make a racist comment, even if it's ironic and in the service of anti-racism? Third, people who get outraged and smug and superior over Twitter are really obnoxious idiots. I think it's the third reaction that will actually stay with me and inform my reception of future debates.

I do think a good argument could be made that comedians are especially well-situated to address issues like the Washington football team name. When I first heard the Chris Rock bit (about 20 years ago!) it made a deep impression on me; it's probably the decisive driver of my feelings on this issue. There's something raw and honest about Rock's comment that makes it more powerful than an argument from someone who seems to be reciting from the Bible of RightThink.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:39 AM
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Second, well there's a good point underneath it, why is it OK for Colbert to make a racist comment, even if it's ironic and in the service of anti-racism? And, as a follow-up, if it isn't, why is it okay for the National Congress of American Indians to make the exact same joke to make the exact same point?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:43 AM
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291.4: Although I'm pretty sure you're not the problem (assuming you're not secretly extremely wealthy and politically connected), I think the phrasing is good for pointing out that the decision will amplify speech from those whose interests are already disproportionately represented in government. Other than Meg Whitman, (or Bunny Mellon, I guess?), I'm having trouble thinking of women who are buying influence (and the two I can think of weren't very successful). Ariana Huffington? Also, can you think of, for example, any Hispanic power brokers that candidates can get millions from? But the Koch brothers and Adelson are rich white men who control quite a bit of the Republican candidates' fate and whose policy interests don't align well with minorities or women.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:46 AM
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Also, can you think of, for example, any Hispanic power brokers that candidates can get millions from?

The Fanjuls in Florida, who spent years stymying Everglades restoration work.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:51 AM
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Colbert back in November, about a minute into the video:

Woman on tape: "For us, the R word is the N word."

Colbert: "Wrong! If the R word was the N word, I wouldn't be able to say on the air. Watch this -- Redskin Redskin Redskin. See? Totally fine. Now, let me try that with the N word. Ni--"

[Sorry! Technical Difficulties]


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 11:51 AM
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And, as a follow-up, if it isn't, why is it okay for the National Congress of American Indians to make the exact same joke to make the exact same point?

Park answers this point directly: Because they aren't white.

Park's arguments take the form of arguments that are valid. There is, after all, plenty of language that's perfectly okay for some people to use that isn't okay for white guys to use. So she's very easy to defend via analogies.

Really, I think there ought to be some kind of norm - like Godwin's Law - against the use of analogies.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:00 PM
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297: It's considered okay for Native Americans to stereotype Jewish and Chinese people? I understand that the speaker of a proposition can affect its validity, but I don't see exactly how that applies in this case.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:04 PM
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there ought to be some kind of norm - like Godwin's Law

GODWIN'S LAW IS DESCRIPTIVE NOT PRESCRIPTIVE GODDAMMIT.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:04 PM
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Park answers this point directly: Because they aren't white.

Hence my 187. Which hey, fine, if her and her allies want to head into "we don't need your white liberal ally" ship territory go right ahead. (hint: yes you do)


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:06 PM
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299: You should have signed it OPINIONATED GODWIN.

But Godwin no longer owns his law; it belongs to everybody now, and we get to say what it is. Suck it, Godwin.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:07 PM
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Geez, enough whitesplaining, gswift.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:08 PM
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297: how white do you have to be for racial stereotyping to be off limits? Is it okay for Irish people to stereotype African Americans? If no, was it okay at some point in the past? What about people who are part Native American? Is there a sliding scale of how much stereotyping you can do?

I'm being, on the one hand, stupid, but that answer (as paraphrased here) is, on the other hand, stupid.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:09 PM
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303 isn't even the point at all, really, and I suppose can be answered well enough by the "don't kick down" response except for the fact that that is not something that anybody except Dan Snyder has been doing. Which, above &c. and why am I talking still.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:11 PM
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It's considered okay for Native Americans to stereotype Jewish and Chinese people?

If we're going to have this dumbass conversation, can we at least agree that what we're talking about is not just "stereotyping" people but mentioning exaggerated racist tropes towards other groups as a means (through humor) of pointing out the irony and ridiculousness of the same approach applied to Native Americans? Look at what the link in 242 is doing. That's not a racial stereotype; it's mentioning a racial stereotype in the service of attacking racism.

I really hate to be white male guy taking what is even arguably the defending the white male guy side in these discussions. Unlike CN, I don't think I'm particularly defensive about these issues -- white people suck, I'm happy to acknowledge it, there's a legitimate debate to be had on where to draw the line in how much stereotyping you can do in even making an anti-racist joke. This particular debate is doing none of that; what it's doing, and this seems pretty obvious to me, is generating a fake media controversy through the efforts of people mainly interested in generating publicity for themselves and creating controversy for the sake of it.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:18 PM
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305 was me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:19 PM
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Sorry, I get that it's a use/mention distinction and I should have been more clear. Even in that case, it's still unclear to me why 297.2 holds.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:23 PM
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I actually seriously wonder what Bob McManus thinks about this. Troll recognize troll?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:27 PM
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287: Ann Coulter is regularly called a tranny by liberal men. While inappropriate, this does not retroactively make Coulter right about anything.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:27 PM
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why is it OK for Colbert to make a racist comment, even if it's ironic and in the service of anti-racism

Because he's an actor in character as a clueless, right-wing blowhard. Ever since this dust-up began, I keep flashing to somebody walking out of Silence of the Lams and demanding to know why it's okay for Anthony Hopkins to kill and eat people.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:29 PM
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Or Lambs


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:30 PM
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The more I think about this controversy, the more surreal it seems. This is the sequence of events:

1. Dan Snyder tries to draw attention away from the fact that his team name is offensive by starting a charity called "The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation."

2. Colbert points out that is offensive by making an analogy to something about Asians that is obviously offensive.

3. The Twitter response is "That's an offensive thing to say about Asians."

How is this an actual thing that's happening? This is a sitcom plot, not an actual real world event.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:32 PM
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It's all been downhill ever since Merv Griffin was allowed to walk free.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:33 PM
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253 is basically why this particular issue pisses me off. Colbert overtook the Tonight Show in ratings last year. That's a big fucking deal. His entire enterprise is sticking it to the Dan Snyders of the world night after night. But by all means, let's gin up a fake issue and suck all the wind out of the actual target cause and call for the cancellation of the biggest ally you've ever had just to burnish your own cred a bit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:33 PM
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308: Bob thinks that symbolic identity politics of this sort just serves as a distraction from the plutocrats effort to immiserate everybody, white, black, and brown. A view I have a lot of sympathy with. The slur that gets me most is 'loser', because that's the operative division this society is heading toward -- 1% winners, 99% losers. Loser-Americans unite!


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:34 PM
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I think the funniest commentary on the whole thing was Colbert's: "I don't see race. People tell me that I'm white and I believe them because I just spent 6 minutes explaining how I'm not racist."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:35 PM
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316 reminds me, for some reason, of this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:41 PM
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315, no, I know, I just wondered about his thoughts on it as a matter of trolling technique, not substance. He's still the master IMO.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:41 PM
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298, 307: I don't understand the question, even as amended.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:45 PM
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314: In general I think people overestimate the liberalness of Colbert. Yes he's parodying conservative pundits, but I think Colbert the person is mostly moderate and not partisan (relative to say Stewart). That said, I do think anti-racism is something that Colbert the person (not the character) genuinely cares about and has since his mother was pregnant with him at the march on Washington. Which isn't to say that he always gets race things right, but I do think he tries a lot harder than most comparable white public figures.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:46 PM
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316: Colbert's response really was masterful in every respect. One thing I admired about it: He chose to not make it about Park.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:47 PM
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The actual awful racist/sexist on Comedy Central is Tosh. I'm kind of shocked that show's still around.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:49 PM
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Oooh, 322 gets it right. That show is stunningly ist of all kinds.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:50 PM
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294, 295:

Also, can you think of, for example, any Hispanic power brokers that candidates can get millions from?

The Fanjuls in Florida, who spent years stymying Everglades restoration work.

and much else of public good besides. In fact, most of the people on this list throw around a lot of political money:

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_are_the_top_100_richest_Hispanics_in_the_US
(If the slideshow is annoying, try it on a mobile browser, where it renders as text for me).

That they are also mostly men who are first or second generation products of early 60s emigration from Cuba (like yours truly) points to a problem with distinguishing white and Hispanic independent of context, though. We're pretty white.



Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:50 PM
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Ever since this dust-up began, I keep flashing to somebody walking out of Silence of the Lams and demanding to know why it's okay for Anthony Hopkins to kill and eat people.

What if Boogie Nights had included more scenes actually showing the shooting of Dirk Diggler's movies? Is that pornography, or fiction about pornography? At some point, if there are people fucking on screen, it's porn.

Saying racist things in character as a racist to make fun of racists is going to be pretty situationally dependent. I've got a lot of faith in Colbert's good intentions, and I don't think this is worse than a misstep, but at some level of offensiveness saying the racist stuff is a problem even if it's in service of portraying and mocking a racist character. (To be honest, my unmediated reaction is that in context, Colbert was okay, but that reaction includes a belief that I'm not in a terribly good position to make a judgment on close cases for this kind of thing.)

Mostly, I think that it should be possible to disagree with Park about the offensiveness of the joke without being particularly upset about the disagreement; she might be wrong, but even if she is her wrongness isn't way outside the realm of opinions that it's reasonable to express.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:50 PM
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I'm still sort of not knowing how to place what people who claim to be all uspet about Colbert think about the link in 242. Same joke, same ethnic groups targeted. Similarly, I'm interested in how the link in 286.last plays into this whole thing. White person getting outraged at a POC for using (as in all of these uses, ironically, to make a point) an ethnic slur directed towards their own race: pretty bad, yes? Worse than the link in 242? Worse than Colbert? If not, why not?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:56 PM
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This is a sitcom plot, not an actual real world event.

Yeah, on a TV show this would be obviously lazy and unrealistic plotting followed by a Twitter backlash about how the show is trying to discredit social activists by portraying them as narcissistic trolls.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:59 PM
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319: Hrm. There might be something complicated (or stupid) about intersectionality I'm misunderstanding, but I'm going to be uncharitable and assume you just didn't click through 242, which is what 293 was referencing. (Then again, I'm not sure if the quote by Park you're referencing is talking specifically about the thing by the NCAI, and if so mea culpa.) If I'm wrong, sorry, and I'll think about it harder.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 12:59 PM
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Or maybe I'll just let Sifu follow this train of thought.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:00 PM
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326: I'm still sort of not knowing how to place what people who claim to be all uspet about Colbert think about the link in 242. Same joke, same ethnic groups targeted.

One principled distinction that I can see between the link in 242 and Colbert is that the link in 242 is activism, while Colbert is a comedian, not an activist. A liberal comedian, but his show is a way for him to make a living by entertaining people. So, a questionably racist joke, made by Native American activists for the sole purpose of drawing attention to other racism, is in a different position from the same joke, made by a white comedian to entertain an audience for money by drawing attention to other racism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:04 PM
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326 continued: what about a white person getting mad about the link in 242? Or, for that matter, an asian person? A jewish person? A rich, right-wing jewish man?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:05 PM
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Shorter 325: Truffaut was right.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:07 PM
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330: yeah, I suppose that's a principled distinction. But I think it's a problematic one. Is the issue the profit motive? What if the joke is made by an activist who makes their living on speaking fees? What if it's a white comedian speaking on behalf of an activist organization, and accepting no money for it? All these instrumental ways of figuring out -- not to put to fine a point on it -- whether somebody's heart is in the right place seem problematic, especially since there doesn't seem to be anybody contending that Colbert's heart is not in the white place. Contrariwise, you could say that white people should refrain from trafficking in stereotypes about people in color, even in jest, even in the service of pushing back against institutional racism, but that for other races it's fair game, but that also seems really problematic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:10 PM
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Colbert's heart is not in the white place

Nice slip there.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:12 PM
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Saying racist things in character as a racist to make fun of racists is going to be pretty situationally dependent

Stifle yerself


Posted by: OPNIONATED ARCHIE BUNKER | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:14 PM
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Hah! That's fantastic. God, I hate this conversation. What do I care? In fact I literally don't care; Colbert will be fine, Park can do whatever the fuck she wants, Dan Snyder is a fuckface. But good lord the sanctimony.

Let's go back to 326.last. Can we all agree that the tweeter in question, while arguably well-intentioned, is actually herself thoroughly racist, in a neo-colonialist benevolent moral leader sort of way?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:16 PM
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333: And I think the answer to that is that you're right, all of these ways of making distinctions are problematic, and it's always going to be a judgment call, and sometimes people are going to make different calls. Which takes me back to thinking that it should be possible to disagree with Park's take on the Colbert joke (which I tentatively kind of do myself) without thinking she's way out of line for being wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:17 PM
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336.1 to 334.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:17 PM
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It's not that there's no conversation to be had about how to make these kinds of jokes. It's that the way in which this particular conversation was started, stoked, and handled pretty much revealed that legit issues were being obfuscated with a big cloud of self promotion and vaporized bullshit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:18 PM
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337: well, fair, sure. So let's talk about whether it's possible for a white person to believe that she's being counter-productive in the service of the larger goal of shining a light on actual racists without that itself being out of line.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:19 PM
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295, 324: Fair enough. I'd never heard of them. I'm sure there are exceptions for any other group I might pick. Larger point stands, though, that I think the biggest winners (not that this is new or different) remain rich white men, and it doesn't strike me as especially unfair to phrase it that way.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:20 PM
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Let's go back to 326.last. Can we all agree that the tweeter in question

Wait, the trail is unclear here. 326.last refers to a bunch of things which themselves refer to various things.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:23 PM
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I think the greatest benefit to phrasing it as "rich white men" is that whenever you see any pictures of powerful republicans on either the elected or donor side everybody is 1. rich, 2. white and 3. male. It is certainly quite plausible that there are lots of people who don't match those categories who are big time donors who are eager to take advantage but it seems like they never show up for photo day.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:24 PM
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342: sorry, 326.last referring to the tweeter in 286.last.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:25 PM
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I actually seriously wonder what Bob McManus thinks about this. Troll recognize troll?

Well, I have never watched a single episode of Colbert, didn't click the links to know what Park said or the Native Americans (?), do not read books about America so have skipped all the stuff on the Japanese internment or immigration discrimination history or Hawaiian Japanese or whatever. Have read a little about Japanese in Brazil, and those who have returned. I do of course study East Asian prejudices as performed in east Asia.

I have skimmed these comments, as I do on many sites.

Currently reading a bunch of 70s radical/socialist feminists:Zillah Eisenstein, Nancy Hartsock, Juliet Mitchell, Sheila Rowbotham, Gayle Rubin, Nancy Chodorow, Linda Gordon. Although this mightily challenges me, maybe I can learn some of this intersectionality stuff, and it feels somehow more applicable and useful than the discourses of American racism and anti-racism.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:27 PM
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So, a questionably racist joke, made by Native American activists for the sole purpose of drawing attention to other racism

This is what I'm not getting. How are the baseball hats questionably racist? How are they anything other than a critique of racism?

But okay, they get a pass because they're activists and they aren't white. If I think it's funny and I link it on my Facebook page, is there any kind of argument to be made at all that I'm guilty of white supremacy?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:41 PM
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346: It's a critique of racism made by representing racism -- if what you put on your FB page was just the "San Francisco Chinamen" hat rather than the context referring to the Redskins, that would look straightforwardly racist, wouldn't it? Or if you'd had a history of putting up graphics that similarly stereotyped Asians, then even in the full context, it'd look plausibly like you just think bucktoothed, yellow-skinned representations of Asians are funny, even if that specific one was created in an anti-racist context. I don't think there's a clean line where good intentions can reliably sanitize a racist joke -- that doesn't mean it's always going to be wrong to use a racist representation for an anti-racist purpose, but it's always going to be at least tricky and sensitive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:49 PM
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339: People are trying to read a coherent argument into Park's words in a way that's really kind of analogous to Park's effort to read racism into Colbert's words. She does say things that, if you squint just right, kind of look non-ludicrous.

The interview linked in 112 shows exactly where Park is coming from. And it's not the place that most of her defenders are describing:

Q: In that case, do you think that "The Colbert Report" itself is oppressive or just that specific joke or comment was oppressive?
Neither.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:56 PM
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346.last: well it surely depends on the form of your link. If you upload the photo of the hats, sans link, and write, "I would love to buy one of these and see the look on chinks' faces," then yeah, probably white supremacist. If you share it as a link to the original story/press release with a comment to the effect that "this is a really effective demonstration of just how awful "Redskins" is," then there's no good faith way to consider that problematic in the least.

Which gets back to the fundamental thing (IMO): I don't think there's any good faith way to think that what Colbert was doing was in any substantive way different from those hats. And if the goal and the method are indistinguishable, then IMO it's bullshit to say that one actor is OK (because POC pass, apparently) and another is not. So you're down to the argument that, essentially, the analogy ban should be universal.

Now, it's entirely possible for this form of joke to go too far, in which the analogy goes from illustrative to titillating (so to speak) - if Colbert had somehow used a 5 minute skit inspired by Mickey Rooney's Breakfast at Tiffany's performance to make the same point - then yeah, that's a problem, because A. it's almost certainly showing lack of good faith on Colbert's part, and B. the harm to the feelings of Asian-Americans far outstrips any realistic benefit for Native Americans. But I simply don't buy that the phrase "ching chong" is so insanely offensive that its use must be proscribed. Mind you, this isn't an anti-PC argument ("If I can't tell nigger jokes, then I'm the real victim"), because ching chong is still off limits for mere jokes, especially ones that actually target Asian-Americans. My point is that you have to actually make a "too far" argument, not merely assert that anything the least bit offensive is off limits, no matter the context.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 1:58 PM
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325: Given some other set of facts it would be reasonable. Given that actual set of facts, I don't see how it's defensible. It's not like it's a 2 hour movie of Colbert making Asian jokes. Colbert is explaining why something is offensive by making an analogy with something that's obviously offensive, not doing some other, more-questionable thing. He's on the side of the angels on this one. The fact that Park is using this opportunity to take away attention from the actual racist thing to pantomime being offended by the analogy is pretty indefensible. She doesn't even want Colbert to be cancelled -- she picked the hash tag because she knew it would get media attention. She probably knew that conservatives would pick up the call, since it's an opportunity to stick it to liberals.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:03 PM
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347: It's a critique of racism made by representing racism -- if what you put on your FB page was just the "San Francisco Chinamen" hat rather than the context referring to the Redskins, that would look straightforwardly racist, wouldn't it?

Well, yes, of course. Obviously context is crucial. The idea that an anti-racist expression can be removed from its context to appear racist is my point. That's what Park (with an assist from ComedyCentral itself) did to Colbert.

I don't think there's a clean line where good intentions can reliably sanitize a racist joke

Sure, yeah. But if you're going to say there's a colorable argument to be made against Colbert, you have to actually make that argument - it's not enough to say that these things are tricky. You actually have to make a case that Colbert stumbled here - that he said something that was open to misinterpretation by reasonable people.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:05 PM
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ano...trolling...

You ask what I think about a group of white UMC Americans endlessly parsing in excruciating detail some statements made by other Americans trying to detect what degree or amount of racism might be contained?

Japanese, mostly on Fuji TV in the daytime, watched 57 hours of subtitled Korean television drama last week. How much non-English material did you watch? You want to be non-racist? Reach out overseas and listen to the others. AA-, Chinese-, Japanese-, whatever- Americans are still Americans and all the fuck fucked up.

Parochial, narcissistic, nationalistic, self-serving...racist... masturbation is what this shit is.

Since you asked.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:05 PM
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I'm beginning to feel I may be a McManusist.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:06 PM
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I think the very essence of good trolling is to say things that are provocative and obviously wrong, but to say them in such a way so that if you squint hard enough there's a good and reasonable point there somewhere. Bonus points if the good/reasonable point is also politically left wing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:23 PM
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God, I hate this conversation...good lord the sanctimony

You have to admit, diversity training from mcmanus is the cherry on top.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:31 PM
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The only thing that really stops me from thinking Park is a terrible person, is that I have a lot of respect for pulling off this kind of trolling. Maybe we should recruit her for the front page?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:37 PM
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It's trolling in the service of Michelle Malkin and the Washington Redskins. Some things are beyond the pale.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:47 PM
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Oh, I don't think she's a terrible person. I think she's 23 and very convinced of her moral rectitude. Which is extremely common among people in their early 20s and still relatively early in the process of radicalization. If you think I'm insufferably smug now (which, yeah, I know), you should have met me at that age. You capitalist lapdogs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 2:51 PM
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You capitalist lapdogs.

Can I be one of those Pomeranian-Husky mixes?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:02 PM
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If you'll sit in my lap, you can be whatever breed tickles your fancy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:04 PM
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I finally had some time so I watched the Colbert clip and it's obvious that the target is Snyder and also way, way more offensive than I expected. It's a lot more than a simple Ching Chong Ding Dong. It looks like a fairly well thought out segment that hits - if you include the clip within the clip - on all of the offensive stereotypes: slanty eyes, broken English, etc. Everything is pegged to something in the Snyder story so I get what he's saying, but on the other hand, the idea that that wouldn't be offensive to Asian-Americans is complete bullshit. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Krusty is tanking and he resorts to Asian stereotype jokes and the crowd boos him for being pathetic except the Colbert crowd is cheering.

The whole #cancelColbert thing is bullshit too, but the idea that only Snyder could have been insulted by that segment is just ridiculous.

Sometimes it's painfully obvious how white this place is. Let's all post the racial and ethnic slurs that have been targeted at us growing up and then post our incomes to see if that makes it ok! Maybe there's been so much assimilation that people in their 20s wouldn't have encountered this, but I got ching chonged and slanty eyed on occasion growing up and it was obviously meant to be offensive and I can't say I appreciate that being employed as a comedy bit. The use/mention distinction can fuck off.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:13 PM
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Well, I think that's the argument that 349 and 351 were asking for -- that Colbert had actually gone too far -- and I'm now feeling like an ass for having said I thought the joke probably wasn't over the line on the basis of having read the tweet but not watched the clip.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:21 PM
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Sometimes it's painfully obvious how white this place is.

FWIW I was thinking the same thing.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:22 PM
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362: I haven't actually caught up with the thread. In searching for the clip I saw a whole bunch of news stories on this. I hadn't realized how big this has gotten. That does seem absurd, especially given the 2005 clip, which I probably saw at the time, found offensive, and then forgot.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:28 PM
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361: I once went to a comedy club where an Asian-American guy was DJing. It seemed that half the jokes (across multiple acts) were directed at him. You know, because he was Asian and had slanty eyes and maybe there were some lines about kung fu movies?

This was in NYC about ten or eleven years ago.

I really think that Colbert could have been shamed into some sort of (presumably funny) apology for his ching-chong bit. A liberal white guy with a predominantly liberal white audience patting themselves on their backs for being above racism is a pretty soft target in this case -- you can actually make fun of these people. #CancelColbert and a Twitter shitstorm wasn't the way to go about it though.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:32 PM
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#CancelColbert and a Twitter shitstorm wasn't the way to go about it though.

At that point, I don't know what to say to you. Sure, it's worth making a fuss about, but that was the wrong kind of fuss? Maybe, whatever, tactics can always be improved, but that's a pretty weak position to get hostile from.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:35 PM
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361: OK, so it sounds like Colbert was much closer to the Mickey Rooney Line than I had realized; I hadn't watched the segment, and I hadn't seen reference to anything other than the logo/name of the made-up charity.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:38 PM
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I'm not able to actually find the full 2005 clip anywhere. That was pretty early in the show and they didn't really have the hang of how to do the show yet. If the criticism is that the original bit was over the line, that seems plausible to me.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:40 PM
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366: Yeah, tactics can always be improved. For example, if your tactics leave you with the author of In Defense of Internment on your side, you probably fucked up. But hey, you're good people, and that's really the takeaway message here, that being a good person deep down is the most important thing, and it's no big deal if you fuck up the tactics. (Which is exactly why Colbert and his fans didn't do anything wrong by laughing at ching chong chong, right? They're good people, they're not racist, they're offended by racism. QED.)


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:42 PM
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Everybody here knows about the Mozilla CEO quitting, right?

I am somewhat interested in this frenzy of twitter activism and outrage, not directly because of the substance which is most often decadent and pathological, but because of the forms and processes.
This is definitely not a distraction by the PtB, the 1% don't give a fuck about this stuff, they measure a person by the size of her wallet and crew. This is all ground-up people power, the people love playing this game.

Erdogan tried to outlaw social networking for a reason. Overseas it is (also) politically useful.

But the stuff prominent in America is basically conservative, grundlings are policing the discourse. Cancelling Colbert will only make the next comics much more cautious, it won't eliminate structural racism. And thus the discourse becomes empty and sterile, but socially safe and comfortable.

I do ask why, but don't care enough to read twitter.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:43 PM
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#toofarColbert


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:43 PM
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For example, if your tactics leave you with the author of In Defense of Internment on your side, you probably fucked up.

Hitler has, indeed, forever discredited vegetarianism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:46 PM
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The Chappelle business about how what matters isn't so much the intention of the jokes but when the audience is laughing seems relevant.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:49 PM
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368: For me it's the pile-on effect. The name for the foundation works as a joke, but to explain why Colbert would be the founder of that particular foundation they have to pull up the earlier clip, and make another reference to the Ching Chong Ding Dong character, and then they come back to the Redskins story, which culminates with the Colbert foundation distributing coolie hats as an analogy for Snyder's foundation distributing coats. It's just too much to make a fairly simple point.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:51 PM
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Jesus Fucking Christ, is the curmudgeon side of this thing pathetic. Listen to yourselves people.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:54 PM
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372 is a very serious, thoughtful, blog comment that has never been made in such detail or with such care.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:56 PM
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370.1: I think we talked about it a little, before he stepped down? Glad he did.

(Obvious joke on hearing about the Prop 8 donation: now I have two reasons to hate Brendan Eich.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 3:57 PM
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361 pretty much speaks for me. Thanks, fake accent, for saying that so well.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:00 PM
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374.last certainly sounds reasonable and plausible. (Guess what I haven't watched!)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:02 PM
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My teenage kids listen to the contemporary music that at one time was called "Rap" and I have no idea what it is called now. I wince every time they quote the lyrics, with the extensive misogyny and use of the "N word". Sometimes I think they do it just to upset me. Are they colorblind or insensitive?


Posted by: James Buchanan | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:08 PM
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381

Obvious joke on hearing about the Prop 8 donation: now I have two reasons to hate Brendan Eich.

Alternatively (ganked from @zestyping on Twitter): JavaScript == and Proposition 8: Brendan Eich seems to have trouble understanding equality.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:13 PM
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382

381: I lolled.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:21 PM
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383

So on a scale of Colbert to Dan Snyder, how bad is it to play the word "wops" for a high point total in Words With Friends?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:27 PM
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383: Shoulda gone for "WOPR" instead.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:32 PM
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385

383: High score.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:34 PM
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386

So other than fake accent no one has watched the whole segment? It's like 3 minutes long. 20 seconds of it consist of the Ching Chong Ding Dong imitation, which makes Colbert look like a giant buffoon.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:36 PM
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387

386: Got a link?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:40 PM
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388

Here's a link.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:43 PM
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389

Well, I think that's the argument that 349 and 351 were asking for

Yup.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:47 PM
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388: Thanks. That was pretty horrible.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 4:52 PM
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The one joke aside, I am kinda sad that they canceled Colbert.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:02 PM
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366: Not sure what's puzzling here. fa's comment seems entirely composed of stuff that Park explicitly disagrees with. The sentence you single out is entirely consistent with the rest of the comment.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:09 PM
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378: Thanks.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:20 PM
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I just watched the clip. It's not funny. Colbert can go fuck himself.

I also agree with 374 that the name of the foundation was sort of amusing and got the point across. The follow-up about distributing hats didn't add to that point, and made the whole thing unpleasant. The closing line ("Asians, send your letters to Snyder, not to me") is plainly offensive.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 5:32 PM
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Colbert is frequently not funny. His style of satire is strained; it's exceedingly white; and while I believe he himself is truly a very smart person, the bizarre tension in the persona he adopts for the show produces a *clang* fairly often. When he does earnest, he's good, but he doesn't do it often enough.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:24 PM
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I did think the Ching-chong bit was unusually unfunny and surprisingly over the top (though not as far as your typical South Park episode). Kind of like "Laser Klan".

If the show was always that unfunny it would have been cancelled by confused and outraged people during the Bush administration.

The big furor didn't start with any of the 18 times the episode aired, it started with Comedy Central foolishly tweeting that quote out of context.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:41 PM
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I hadn't watched the clip and it sounds absolutely horrible. I hadn't actually said here that I think "ching chong" jokes are unacceptable and now I regret that I didn't, though it was partly because I assume everyone would assume that's what I'd think. I have no idea why Sifu Tweety thinks people wouldn't object to the "analogy" sports team logos as racist. Or, if we're splitting hairs, deliberately playing with racial terms and images to get an emotional rise out of the target audience, which does sound racist as well as potentially meta-racist or whatever.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:46 PM
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And I'd basically cosign 395. I don't have the patience to watch Colbert, though I occasionally do watch clips online if enough people link to them. But I have no patience for tv in general and don't watch Rachel Maddow and haven't even tried Melissa Harris-Perry's show even though I've interacted with her elsewhere, so I'm not the best standard here.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:56 PM
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If the show was always that unfunny it would have been cancelled by confused and outraged people during the Bush administration.

The show's always been uneven. The target audience really isn't the same as that for Jon Stewart.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 6:57 PM
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I have no idea why Sifu Tweety thinks people wouldn't object to the "analogy" sports team logos as racist.

I don't personally see how they're very different at all from (my impression of) the Colbert thing (that I haven't actually watched), aside from the reaction to them. That's why I was asking.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:05 PM
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398: and don't watch Rachel Maddow and haven't even tried Melissa Harris-Perry's show

Oh, if we're opining on various shows: Rachel Maddow I find unbearable these days. She's relentlessly sarcastic, speaks at a rapid fire, and repeats her points with more emphasis as though we didn't hear her the first time, and MSNBC has apparently decided that it must obsessively focus on Missing Malaysian Airplane! or Chris Christie! For an entire hour. Dudes, there is other important news.

Melissa Harris-Perry's show is very good.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:08 PM
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That's why I was asking.

Oh, I know that. I just think the answer is more likely to be because no one stepped into the Suey Park role than because people really feel differently.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:08 PM
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The Colbert thing was worse than I was expecting.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:11 PM
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Well, one thing that's different is timing. A joke in an image you get the whole joke at once, while on TV it takes some time to play out. This means there's some amount of time where you're performing the racism without the punchline being totally in view. If I understand right, that's what people are mainly objecting to.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:11 PM
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I'm hoping it comes out that Park is being paid by Amy Poehler's people to scuttle Colbert's chances of replacing Letterman. #occamsrazor #cuibono #vagenda


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:15 PM
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Colbert's chances of replacing Letterman

What. I hear people advocating for Craig Ferguson. A tad confusing, that.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:19 PM
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402: that seems reasonable. On the other hand, I somebody had stepped into the Suey Park role when the perpetrators were the National Congress of American Indians, that would have been different and more troubling, right? That's what I was interested in working through.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:19 PM
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408

And ogged, I hope those aren't real twitter hashtags.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:21 PM
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407: I don't know if it is more troubling. I assume there were internal conversations about whether to do something inflammatory to draw attention to the issue. They've done really tasteful (I feel awfully judgmental saying that, but I mean that I think that was the impression they wanted to convey) and moving campaigns like this one. Most activist campaigns have to grapple with this dynamic at some point. I don't think Colbert's people are actually having "Are we the ACT UP of the Washington football team debate?" conversations.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:26 PM
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I don't think Colbert's people are actually having "Are we the ACT UP of the Washington football team debate?" conversations.

I assume not, but I would be sort of surprised if conversations along the lines of "are we being dicks to the people whose side we are fundamentally on?" and/or "are we, as they say, kicking down?" didn't happen fairly regularly. Like, clearly they weren't like "well, shit, we want to get a laugh on this material and it doesn't matter who gets in the way"; the impetus was clearly something more like "okay, we have this satirically over-the-top right wing blowhard, how do we use this to mock actual nearly-as-over-the-top right wing blowhard dan snyder?" which is maybe a little less noble than "is humor the best way to call attention to the cause of getting over-the-top right wing blowhard Dan Snyder to change his behavior right at this moment?" but doesn't seem terribly different in terms of the paths it would lead you down. Or at least, it seems to have led them down similar paths.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:57 PM
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None of which is to say that fake accent's strong-to-the-point-of-nearly-dispositive "I don't care why you are doing it, enough with the ching chong bullshit" point doesn't hold. But that would clearly seem to hold for both.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 7:59 PM
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409: That is a truly awesome and moving ad. It drew me in and the ending was a shock (I guess it shouldn't have been given the context, but.).


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:01 PM
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I haven't really followed this closely, and I haven't followed the Twitter part of it at all, which is I guess why I'm puzzled by the vehemence of the backlash against Park. Maybe this wasn't the best target for her to seize on, and she clearly did so deliberately and with an eye to garnering media attention, but who cares? There's an actual problem with this kind of humor (as all the Asian commenters in this thread have pointed out), and this campaign successfully drew attention to it. It drew some attention away from the also very real Redskins problem, but it's not like that's going away any time soon. It'll resurface the next time Snyder does some idiotic thing to try to deflect calls to change the name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:02 PM
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Oddly parallel story with interestingly different players.

Warnings about 1. boingboing 2. rantiness 3. that same goddamned Medium-style template and 4. pointless longformism attach.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:34 PM
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I think Teo is exactly right. "Activists" are annoying, pretty much by definition, but that doesn't tell you much about whether they're right (or effective) in any given instance, and this campaign sure looks like it's been effective: I'd guess that the days of Asian jokes on talk shows are done--that's a big win.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 8:44 PM
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My objection is that this is literally the only time where this strategy is out of line. Why did it blow up? Because the right-wing would use it to poke at Colbert, and defend the right of Dan Snyder to call the Redskins the Redskins. Any other instance of Asian humor would have been better.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:33 PM
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417

||
This was worth reading until the end, for the correction.
| >


Posted by: Jimmy 'Peanut' Carter / SlatePitch | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:38 PM
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418

417 is indeed great. (And what's up with all the private-home pole dancers looking white? I assume it's sampling bias.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:56 PM
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It says most of them live in Silicon Valley, so local demographics are probably one factor. Also the one in the first picture doesn't look very white to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:58 PM
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Same for the second one, actually.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 9:59 PM
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Okay, teo, maybe I wasn't really paying attention? I really just skimmed to the bottom for the correction and didn't look at the pictures, in which case I shouldn't have said anything about the pictures. You're certainly right about the first and I'd debate you about the second but you're obviously bringing more nuance to it already than I did.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:04 PM
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414: The part I really don't get is criticizing trans people who didn't identify as gay before transition, except they wouldn't have been gay before transition because that's how transition usually works. And I think it's pretty normal for people not to be out about the complexities of their identities until they're ready to talk about it all, so that didn't strike me as necessarily weird or suspect.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:14 PM
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Eh, I'm not totally convinced about the second one, but the more I look at it the less white she looks. If I had to guess I'd say she's probably Hispanic, which of course is an identity with a complicated relationship to whiteness as discussed upthread.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:14 PM
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My moment of race politics WTF for the day or week does not even come in this thread. It comes from the opera blogosphere's main blog where this terrible writer who reviews a lot for some unfathomable reason decided to review a performance in the persona of Melanie from Gone With the Wind and people reacted in totally mental opera-person ways.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:20 PM
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423: Comity. That image could go a lot of ways and I really don't care and shouldn't have made an issue of it in the first place, obviously.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:21 PM
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424:Whaaaaaaaaat? On that note, I'm going to bed. But tomorrow I'm totally googling opera blogs if you haven't provided more details. That's not much of a threat, I realize, but it's all I have.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 4-14 10:23 PM
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Counting people originating from mainland China as Asian-American and people originating from Taiwan as Pacific Islander is nuts.

The modern way is to count people as whatever they self-determine and report themselves to be. See also recent
Shina locust: 'Hong Kong considers addressing racial discrimination against mainland Chinese' stories.


Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 4:22 AM
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I thought I would offer that, although I didn't watch the Colbert clip, I think I can see a substantive difference between that and the hats, and unusually for me, I actually am a member of an ethnic group targeted, and I feel it as such. When I move my eyes down that row of hats, the kike one definitely pops out as, "that's supposed to be you, and what you feel now is what it would be like if you lived in one of the other times and places where that kind of imagery was common." And it's a really good, visceral illustration of why the Redksins logo is problematic. I don't get a feeling looking at the hats that there's any pleasure or indulgence about it, or that it's a joke at all. It's just a comparison, one that was useful for me. I think a big difference arises when you're making a joke or doing something to entertain, and you're inviting your audience to share with you in pleasure connecting to the racist demonstration. I'm not trying to make some ultimate determination that The Hats Are Alright. I only report my reaction.

Also, I honestly really appreciate opportunities to hear reports from the perspective of all kinds of people whose experience is not usually well represented in the mainstream. I know that those opportunities abound on the net if I seek them out, and sometimes I do, but I'm a lazy white person and when someone makes enough noise to break through a wall so that it gets to me, I'm happy about it. Although honestly I studiously avoided #CancelColbert, even avoided understanding what it was about, but then wound up reading this thread. But there was valuable perspective here!


Posted by: tia | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 5:05 AM
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#CancelLeno


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 7:55 AM
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416: My objection is that this is literally the only time where this strategy is out of line. Why did it blow up? Because the right-wing would use it to poke at Colbert, and defend the right of Dan Snyder to call the Redskins the Redskins.

I'm unclear on this, Walt: whose strategy blew up? Colbert's or Park's? Certainly Park's strategy is open to accusations of the PC police having run amok, an accusation that is not at all uncommon, according to which activists are just so damned intolerant of intolerance, or prejudiced about prejudice, or biased about bias.

There's a hoohaw going on over the 'hounding' of Brendan Eich out of his CEO position at Mozilla. Bob mentioned it upthread. I see the hoohaw continues today as well, with Bill Maher telling us that "I think there is a gay mafia. I think if you cross them, you do get whacked."

The left at war with itself is an unfortunate thing, but hey, big tent.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 11:08 AM
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424: So terrible, and so bizarre. She seems awfully out of place on that blog.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 11:30 AM
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Stephen Colbert as a possible replacement for Letterman is apparently a real thing! Hrm.

5 times Colbert has dropped his persona. I heard the Terry Gross interview at the time. He's a surprisingly poised, intelligent guy when he drops all pretense. Not that he'd be doing that in Letterman's slot.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 11:39 AM
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Yes, who could imagine that a longtime professional writer, satirist, and actor would have intelligence and poise.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 12:45 PM
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Oh, I could imagine it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 5-14 1:23 PM
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430: I meant "blew up" in the sense of Kesha song lyrics. #CancelColbert became a news story because the right wing picked up the call to cancel Colbert, which made the story "bipartisan". (The first news story I saw on the thing had Michelle Malkin as its first quote.) The right wing picked it up just to change the subject away from Dan Snyder's pathetic attempt to buy positive publicity for the Redskins name.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 9-14 1:44 PM
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