I get it. even as a half Japanese, half Korean American and disabled USAF veteran, this is hilarious. when I first saw it, laughed in shocking disbelief that any news station would fall for a Bart Simpson level prank like this and to the content itself. however, after a few days of reflection after the on-air incident, I have some issues.
this prank was made by an NTSB staffer who had relayed the false information to journalists who called to inquire about the facts surrounding this tragedy. without checking their info, KTVU put the information on-air. of course the journalists and producers should be held at fault and accountable for not doing their jobs, and that’s to ensure the news they’re reporting is factual. they should have ensured their information was coming from a credible source, even when the info is coming from what is assumed to be the NTSB’s public affairs division.
the issue is not so much that the joke is blatantly racist, making light of the fact that names in Asian cultures sound radically different than those in white societies. the issue is that it relates to a tragic accident that saw at least 3 people’s lives lost so far. yes, it’s dark humor and can in some ways help some to cope with massive tragedies like the one involved. however, it feels like something more sinister at play when taken in context of the current social situation here in America.
would anyone ever try to make light of the situation had it been a US carrier or predominantly white Americans involved in the crash of Asiana Flight 214? where were the jokes when Capt. Chester Sullenbarger safely landed his Boeing 737 in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff? how come there were no jokes in the aftermath of the handful of aircraft crashes that resulted in a loss of Caucasian lives?
when taken in the context of the recent racism displayed by Caucasian beauty queens on CBS’s Big Brother 15 program, the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, or the Tea Party’s rise within congress and active campaigns to marginalize Mexican and Arab American’s rights under the guise of national security, this latest joke begins to take on a more sinister note. it seems that Caucasian Americans are making a stand by promoting the idea that non-white Americans are somehow less than American, no matter their citizenship status. in the eyes of nearly half of Americans, non-white Americans are considered “foreigners” no matter our status, and therefore less deserving or outright undeserving of the protections afforded to all Americans under our Constitution, and specifically, our Bill of Rights.
I was born in this country, like my father and his father before him. I am also a third generation US veteran, as our family’s men have volunteered to enlist in the US Armed Forces and we have fought in every major US conflict, even while enduring the internment of Japanese Americans that guaranteed the loss of our homes and freedoms. from WWII to the Vietnam Conflict, Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi Freedom, my family, as Americans of Japanese descent, has fought proudly under the Stars and Stripes. despite answering the call to duty for our country and heeding President Kennedy’s call to “… Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” 40 years later we are now looked upon as second-class citizens by nearly half of the citizens of this country. the worst is knowing that within that half, few of them have ever volunteered to serve their country and those that have are serving the public in areas where they are further empowered to hold down those of us with different racial backgrounds.
but the absolute stinger is knowing that it’s not just Caucasians, but Americans of all races, that are not only laughing at the recent joke, but secretly feel that it’s acceptable to have a laugh at Asian Americans, even during tragedy and loss, only because we allow it to continue by remaining silent. as a community, we tend to ignore the racially fueled actions against us, instead striving to better ourselves and our community and not lashing out violently or screaming empty rhetoric.
just don’t confuse our inaction with weakness and complacency. it’s a sign of strength and maturity as we quietly work to excel in all facets of life and community. despite those who harbor feelings of ill will against us and are ignorant of what it takes to be quietly powerful, we still welcome you into our households every time our society has advanced beyond yours and will continue to do so. so have your laugh and rewrite your laws to our disadvantage but we don’t need governmental control to overcome your prejudice and excel at the things that truly matter: honor, family and education. someday you barbarians will finally evolve and learn and until then, we’ll be waiting for you to rejoin society.