In what has become a sad, bipartisan exercise, an increasing number of campaigns are using xenophobic Chinese stereotypes in advertisements to try to gin up nativist sentiment among voters.
During the 2010 campaign, then-Rep. Zack Space (D-OH) began the recent trend with an ad supposedly depicting a parade in China — the actual footage was of Asian Americans in San Francisco — and a tagline “thanking” his opponent: “As they say in China, xie xie Mr. Gibbs!” An anti-spending front group, Citizens Against Government Waste, followed suit with a cryptic ad raising the prospect that our national debt would cause America’s economic downfall and soon force us to work for the Chinese. Most reprehensibly, Mark Amodei ran an ad in a Nevada special election depicting a Chinese military invasion in front of the U.S. Capitol building as it flies the Chinese flag.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), currently running to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), is the latest to try to stoke anti-Chinese fears for political gain. His new ad, entitled “Now”, shows a woman in what’s meant to be rural China speaking broken English and thanking Stabenow because “we take your jobs.” “Your economy get very weak, ours get very good,” the woman says. “Hoekstra’s mock website hosting the ad features Chinese characters adorned with two Chinese flags. Watch it:
These ads are not-so-subtly intended to provoke nativist fears, and do so by purveying unfortunate stereotypes. Yet despite Hoekstra’s fear-mongering, the fact remains that China still holds just 9.5 percent of the United States’ debt, over four times less than what American bondholders own.
Michigan Republican consultant, who advised Stabenow’s GOP opponent in 2006, had harsh words for Hoekstra: “shame on Pete Hoekstra for that appalling new advertisement. Racism and xenophobia aren’t any way to get things done.”