Michigan Congressman Joe Knollenberg (R-9th district) had a post on his official government website entitled “Protecting our Families from Asian Invaders,” later changed to “Protecting our Families from Harmful Products”, which was about a recently passed House Bill that gives stronger oversight of foreign imports to The Consumer Product Safety Commission.
There was an understandable uproar over the original title from the local Asian-American community (see copy of email below), as there should be from everyone.
This is not just some semantic quibble, for example if the original title had been “Protecting our families from harmful Asian [or Chinese] Products”. No, this represents a dangerous Asian-bashing mindset that has no place in our elected officials or their staffs.
Just exactly who or what is “invading”? Are we being targeted by foreign exporters? In fact the Chinese have taken draconian measures against those responsible for oversight. “Asian Invaders” is just an updated version of the “Yellow Peril”. This type of archaic “tone-deafness” is just one of the many reasons that Joe Knollenberg should be voted out of office.
I have uploaded a copy of Knollenberg’s original post.
Here is a comment made to my blog at freep.com, followed by my response:
I highly doubt that Joe Knollenberg wrote the headline or even saw it. I’m sure that a staff member presented him a rough outline of what they were going to do and he approved. It is getting ridiculous that a simple mistake now a days is being blown way out of proportion because it rubs one or two people the wrong way.
How many really outstanding people refuse to get into politics because they don’t want to be subjected to this politically correct nonsense?
You want Joe out fine, don’t vote for him, but if this is one of your reasons then I think you should reevaluate your priorities.
Excuse me. This was an official post to Joe’s blog. The content was rather mundane. It was the title that was inflammatory. I’ve lived here [the Detroit area] for over thirty-five years and have lived through all the scapegoating, the Japan-bashing, and now the China-bashing. We’re not talking “political correctness”, but rather “racial stereotyping”. One reason I dislike [Michigan Governor Jennifer] Granholm, besides her outdated view of race relations, is the China-bashing she did in her last campaign. What Knollenberg should do is fire the person who made up the title. This is not just a “simple mistake.”
COPY OF EMAIL
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 05, 2008 3:44 PM
Subject: Asian Americans disappointed by Congressman Knollenberg’s “Asian Invaders” blog post title
OAKLAND COUNTY – Asian amp; Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) – Michigan, the Asian American Center for Justice/American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), and the Association of Chinese Americans (ACA) issued a letter today to Congressman Joseph Knollenberg (R-9th District), calling for a public apology to the Asian Ameri can community.
On July 30, 2008, Knollenberg wrote a post on his blog (http://www.knollenberg.house.gov/blog/) about the recent bill passed by the House of Representatives regarding oversight of product safety, focusing on harmful products from China. The post was originally titled “Protecting Our Families From Asian Invaders” and later changed t o “Protecting Our Families From Harmful Products.”
“It is very disturbing that an elected official would sink so low as to promote xenophobic thoughts about certain countries or people.” said Stephanie Chang, Chair of Asian amp; Pacific Islander American Vote – Michigan. “Election season or not, these types of comments will not be tolerated by the Asian American community.”
“Instead of focusing on trade affiliations in a global economy, it is conduct unbecoming of a United States Congressman to pander to fear and use anti-Asian remarks,” said Prasanna Vengadam, board member of the Asian American Center for Justice/American Citizens for Justice, leader of APIA Vote – Michigan’s Indian American working group, and Troy resident.