Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘racist ads

US Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) Approves of Racist, Polarizing Ad

leave a comment »

Pity former United States Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI).  He recently approved of an ad that, to put it charitably, is both racist and xenophobic.  This ad aired on his campaign’s behalf in the state of Michigan during the Super Bowl, which just goes to show that there’s no accounting for taste.

The ad, featuring an Asian-American girl speaking broken English while biking through a bunch of rice paddies, is an extremely tone-deaf way to say that current US Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) spends too much money (as the Chinese girl says, “Thank you Debbie SpendItNow” and there’s an associated Web site, to boot).  Here’s the text of what this young woman actually says in the ad:

“Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie Spenditnow. Debbie’s spent so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie Spenditnow.”  (Transcribed this evening while listening/watching to it on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” and Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”)

Do I even need to start in on how wrong this ad is?  (Or will you just go look at it for yourself in order to see how a candidate for the high office of US Senator can waste his money while offending nearly everyone in the process?)

Please see this link from Real Clear Politics, which has an embedded link to the commercial in question:

As the Detroit News put it, “Hoekstra Super Bowl ad Raises Sensitivity Question:”

GOP consultant Nick De Leeuw flat-out scolded the Holland Republican for the ad.

“Stabenow has got to go. But shame on Pete Hoekstra for that appalling new advertisement,” De Leeuw wrote on his Facebook page Sunday morning. “Racism and xenophobia aren’t any way to get things done.”

Good for De Leeuw.  I’m glad he stood up and called this ad exactly what it is: racist and xenophobic.

Going on (still from the Detroit News article sourced above):

A media consultant who has advised Democrats also thought it could prove problematic.

“Some Asian-Americans may be offended by the stereotype that is portrayed in the spot,” said Robert Kolt, who teaches advertising part-time at Michigan State University and had previewed a number of Sunday’s Super Bowl ads. “Pete seems like a nice guy in the ad, but I think he is wasting a lot of money now. … It’s just not Super Bowl-worthy. It’s not cute, it’s not funny and it’s not memorable.”

Ah, but I beg to differ — it’s memorable for all the wrong reasons, which is far worse for Rep. Hoekstra than if it were simply a mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy ad of the type we’ve all seen many times before.  (And if you think “some Asian-Americans” only “may be offended,” I have some prime real estate in Antarctica for sale.)

Hoekstra is not the only one running against Stabenow, mind you; Gary Glenn, of Midland, MI, is also vying to become the Republican general election candidate for the US Senate Seat.  And according to the same article sourced above from the Detroit News, Glenn is most unamused:

“Saving America from the Washington, D.C., politicians who gave us this crippling debt and deficit crisis, Republican and Democrat alike, means Hoekstra and Stabenow should both get benched,” Glenn said in a release.

And Michigan Democratic Party Chairman was equally unamused (quoted again from the Detroit News article):

“Hoekstra’s ad is nothing more than a hypocritical attempt at a Hollywood-style makeover because the fact is, Pete spends a lot,” Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer said. “Hoekstra voted for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and voted for trillions more in deficit spending before quitting Congress to get rich at a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. Hoekstra is using the big game to play games with Michigan voters.”

So let me get this straight.  We have an ad that some members of the GOP have condemned roundly, along with some members of the Democratic party.  We have an ad that’s meant to “make a big splash” (why else be so offensive?).  And we have an ad that, on the offensiveness meter, is totally off the charts.

And, of course, it’s an ad that Hoekstra and his campaign defends; they call it “satirical” (they must not be using the word the same way I would, then), and say that their real meaning is that Stabenow simply spends too much money, that’s all.  (Any racism that might be present — pshaw!  How can we think it?  We’re all Americans here, right?  Or so Hoekstra and his campaign prays.)

About the only good thing I can say for this ad is that it has brought disparate segments of the population together — the Ds and the Rs — who normally wouldn’t touch each other with a ten-foot pole.  But that’s the only silver lining in an otherwise dark and offensive cloud.


Further thoughts . . . otherwise known as, “After further review:”

As for what I’d do, were I Hoekstra?  (Inquiring minds wanted to know.)  If for some reason I’d been stupid enough to make this ad in the first place, then have been even more stupid in putting it on the air to cause big-time trouble, I’d first apologize.  Then I’d pull the ad.  And finally, I’d do whatever I could to put this behind me as quickly as humanly possible. 

But because Hoekstra apparently isn’t very smart, he’s standing by his “I didn’t mean any harm!” and “It’s satire!” defenses.

Nothing says Hoekstra must be intelligent, now, is there?  (But if he has even two brain cells together, he really should pull this ad because it is beyond offensive.  It is disgusting.)