Hoekstra Super Bowl ad a slippery slope toward Asian-bashing?
Hoekstra Super Bowl commercial "really, really dumb": Republican Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra aired a Super Bowl commercial that remind some of Michigan's Asian-bashing history.
Criticism of a US Senate campaign ad featuring a young Asian woman talking in broken English about China taking away American jobs grew Monday as some warned it could revive discrimination against Asian-Americans.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Michigan has seen its share of Asia bashing, especially in the 1980s, when images of sledgehammers smashing imported cars were common. Chinese-American Vincent Chin died after being beaten to death in 1982 by two unemployed autoworkers angry about competition from Japan.
Republican Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra began taking heat after his ad targeting Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow ran statewide Sunday before the Super Bowl football championship.
RECOMMENDED: Top 6 Super Bowl car ads (+video)
The 30-second ad opens with the sound of a gong and shows the Asian woman riding a bike on a narrow path lined by rice paddies.
Stopping her bike, the woman smiles into the camera and says, "Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow."
The scene shifts to Hoekstra, who says, "I think this race is between Debbie Spenditnow and Pete Spenditnot."
"Mr. Hoekstra may believe that his ad is just a way to express his political goals. But it does so in a manner that points the finger at Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders for our nation's problems," said Thomas Costello, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, a 70-year-old civil rights organization in Detroit. "All of us need to be vigilant in the words we use and images we portray to avoid giving tacit permission for racist behavior."
Hoekstra told reporters Monday that his ad is "insensitive" only to the spending philosophy of Stabenow and Democratic President Barack Obama.
"We knew we were taking an aggressive approach on this. But this is a time where the people in Michigan and across the country are fed up with the spending, and we wanted to capture that frustration that they had with Washington, D.C.," he said. "This ad ... hits Debbie smack dab between the eyes on the issue where she is vulnerable with the voters of Michigan, and that is spending."