10.21.2010

sharron angle's "first asian" is the new "I'm you"


You have imagine Sharron Angle's inexplicably weird "Asian" remarks to a group of Latino students last week had her campaign people doing the facepalm in anticipation of the mockery onslaught. To refresh your memory:

"You know, I don't know that all of you are Latino. Some of you look a little more Asian to me. I don't know that. What we know, what we know about ourselves, is that we are a melting pot in this country. My grandchildren are evidence of that, and I'm evidence of that. I've been called the 'first Asian legislator' in our Nevada state assembly."
Come on. That craziness is just begging to be made fun of. And as expected, the mockery indeed erupted. It was just too easy. Check out this awesome campaign ad spoof from The Second City Network: Sharron Angle Mocked For Telling Hispanic Students They Look Asian.



Jeff Yang's latest "Asian Pop" column for SFGate takes a look at current spate of campaign insanity, and more importantly, tries to get to the bottom of just what the hell Angle is talking about: Sharron Angle to Asians: I'm you.
It's a mindboggling claim. Veteran Las Vegas political reporter Joe Ralston, who broke the story, spoke for the entire Nevada state establishment when he remarked, "That last comment, about her being called the 'first Asian legislator'? I have no idea what she is talking about." And Angle has always been publicly celebratory of her European heritage, even writing a self-published book, "Prairie Fire," about her first ancestors in this country -- German immigrants and, presumably, legal ones.

The explanation Ralston later unearthed made things clearer, if not less weird. Apparently, an unknown reporter had once told Angle that she "looked Asian." Which, by Angle's logic, was enough to support her claims of being a racial pioneer.

This underscores the common factor in Angle's series odd statements: They all reflect a perception of racial identity that's linked to physical appearance. To Angle, apparently, you're Latino if you look Latino; you're Asian if you look Asian. Experience, culture, genetic history, even self-identification? They don't matter.
It's a great piece, no doubt fueled and inspired by the sheer WTF-ness of the skewed ideas rolling around in Angle's head (it's currently the most read and most e-mailed article on SF Gate). Thank you, Jeff. And thank you, Sharron, for the laugh... which will crumble into a cry if you are elected.