OCA's Statement on Racial Rhetoric in Political Campaigns
WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), is deeply disturbed by the uptick in volatile racist rhetoric that has taken place during the 2012 election year.
“With the 2012 elections quickly approaching, we have seen an alarming ease by which candidates and media personalities resort to racist rhetoric under the guise of light hearted humor. This is simply inappropriate, ineffective, unnecessary, and inexcusable,” said Tom Hayashi, Executive Director of OCA. “We condemn the characterization of Asians as a ‘perpetual foreigner’ regardless of context.”
Most recently, New York Congressional Candidate Nate Shinagawa was racially demeaned during the broadcast of a local radio talk show. Shinagawa, a third-generation Japanese-Korean American, was ignorantly ridiculed when it was asserted that he came from the “Peoples Republic” and mocked for his Japanese heritage. These desperate xenophobic comments are especially troubling given the fact that such rhetoric has also been used by perpetrators of bullying, harassment, and hazing from schools to the military with dire consequences.
Unfortunately, Mr. Shinagawa is not the only victim of racialized political attacks this election year. During the most widely viewed Super Bowl in history, the notorious “Debbie-spend-it-now” ad by the Pete Hoekstra campaign grossly exaggerated the proposition of insult and mockery by the Chinese for the seeming economic dependence by the United States; accusing the candidate as a contributor to the transcontinental financial relationship. In a separate campaign video by Congressman Mark Amodei, similar themes are echoed as well as the prediction of a military seizure of the US Capitol by the Chinese military following an economic meltdown caused by the current administration. These ads have been pointed out as being extremely problematic not only by APA civil rights leaders, but also broadly condemned and discouraged by both political parties.
Elections should be issue-focused without resorting to unfair and inaccurate comparisons. Demonizing a specific class of people using fear tactics based on broad political and economic generalizations or predictions should not be tolerated by the community at-large.
As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders become more involved in civic life, we call upon political parties to promote an environment that welcomes the inclusion of diverse perspectives and experiences. In the final months before this year’s elections, we urge political candidates and the media to refrain from using xenophobic language and imagery. We also urge those elected into office to support policies that address the serious problem related to all forms of discrimination and bias.