During the Superbowl on February 5, 2012, a campaign ad for Pete Hoekstra, a Republican candidate for the Senate, ran. This ad featured a young woman of Asian descent riding a bicycle, surrounded by rice paddies with ethnically ambiguous music playing in the background. She gives a monologue in broken English on how the Democratic incumbent, Debbie Stabenow, is bringing jobs to her undisclosed country. The video leaves off with a link to Hoekstra's website, www.debbiespenditnow.com, which has been decorated with tea pots, dragons, lanterns, and Chinese symbols. The website also shows off the stereotypical "Asian" font displaying different statistics about China's economy in comparison to that of the United States. Hoekstra not only groups all of Asia together in this geographically vague ad, but also selects and appropriates different cultural and historical symbols to be used mindlessly in his ignorant and close-minded website.
Asian and Pacific Islander representation in mainstream media has always been that of a subordinate, comedic, or simply blatantly racist role. In the past decade that has slowly but surely began to change. However, aggressively offensive videos like this ad reinforces negative and harming stereotypes that have already raged for far too long. This video encourages racism and xenophobia, with McCarthy-like tactics of drilling fear of another culture and people into the American people.
Hoekstra defended his ad, saying that “Democrats trying to make this an issue of race demonstrates their total ignorance of job creation policies.” Hoekstra's campaign team has also disabled commenting and rating on the Youtube video itself and purged most negative feedback on his Facebook page. Even GOP campaign consultants such as Nick De Leeuw and Mike Murphy have condemned the ad, calling it "very, very dumb" and "racist and xenophobic".
This is a disgusting attempt at turning American people against anyone of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. The Asian American community is one of the fastest growing in Michigan and as deeply impacted by job losses and the unstable economy as any other community. The ad must be pulled and a public apology given as soon as possible. We must not let racism continue to live on through the broadcasting of this ad and through Hoekstra's vile campaign.
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