A lot of hand wringing and clothes rending has occurred thanks to the racist ad run by Michigan Republican Senatorial Candidate Pete Hoekstra as unsuspecting Super Bowl fans watched on. Hoekstra is running against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow and is making it a point to frame her as a tax and spend liberal who is giving away the U.S. economy to the evil yellow overlords in China. Sound racist?
A bit over the top?
No more so than his ad which featured an obviously American born Asian actress trying her best to speak in broken english, and play the role of a Chinese country girl thanking Debbie “Spend-it-Now” for shipping U.S. jobs over to China. Hoekstra fought tooth and nail, of course, all week defending the ad, claiming that the broken English was an indicator of China’s improving education system compared to ours, and that he was being satirical. All of which are perfectly reasonable explanations for the ad if you are a race-baiting bigot.
The larger issue here is that there is a line between legitimate criticism of a U.S. politician’s policies towards China, and race baiting for the sake of skirting up in the polls. The ugly truth is that China owns a tremendous amount of U.S. debt and that by some estimates every American owes China about 2 grand … give or take a few hundred.
Therefore when Citizens Against Government Waste ran this ad in 2010 implying that foolish American spending and poor financial policy will have us waking up and speaking Mandarin within a generation despite complaints, I didn’t consider it racist – it was nationalist, and factually accurate
There are ways to run ads about China policy that are perfectly reasonable, this ad run against Democratic incumbent Nick Rahall (D-WV) in 2010 by his GOP challenger was right on the money.
Rahall still won re-election but his GOP opponent kept it clean and on the policy level.
And lest we think that China-baiting is a purely Republican tactic, the DNC ran this ad against Republican challenger Bobby Schilling in 2010 and it wasn’t enough to stop him from flipping Illinois’ district 17 from blue to red but again, no one waved a yellow flag.
To be honest, Hoekstra is not considered a good bet to beat Stabenow anyway, but he only made matters worse for himself and the GOP in general by putting up an ad that only serves to reinforce the stereotype that the GOP is full of bigots. They aren’t all bigots, some of them are just nationalist who aren’t smart enough to explain their feelings. But it’s pretty clear that Hoekstra falls into the first category.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.