3.19.2007

"chinaman" and "slanting eyes"

Last week, Ted Turner apologized for comments he made about China and Chinese people, including using the term "Chinaman," at a Bay Area Council meeting in a talk about global warming: Ted Turner apologizes for remarks on Chinese. When asked about how to win China's cooperation in reducing greenhouse gases, Turner said:
"The Chinese are very smart. Just think: Have you ever met a dumb Chinaman? ...Very seldom do you see Chinese restaurants close. I'm in the restaurant business, and it's very tough. They work very hard."
Community leaders and officials at the council immediately called for an apology, which he issued in statement from his spokesman. He claims that he was unaware the term "Chinaman" was derogatory. You've got to be kidding me. A guy who is supposed to be a well-traveled world business leader? We live in an ignorant world.

Speaking of world leaders making stupid comments, Canadian politician Andre Boisclair was talking about global competition from Asian economies like India and China and the number of young people from these countries coming to study in the U.S., when he said:
"The reality is these countries are not just working to create jobs in sweatshops... When I was in Boston [studying at Harvard]... I was surprised to see that on campus about one-third of the students doing their bachelor's degrees had slanting eyes."
That's racist! Not only is it an offensive racist stereotype, there's also the xenophobic presumption that everyone with "slanted eyes" could only be from a foreign nation like China or India. When called on his comments, Boisclair adamantly refused to apologize: Boisclair won't say he's sorry for "slanting eyes" comment aimed at Asians. More here: Boisclair won't apologize. He claims the comment he made, "les yeux brid├ęs" (slanting eyes) is an acceptable expression in French: Boisclair defends 'slanting eyes' comments. I find that suspect. I don't care what language he used. That's racist!

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