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12.16.2006

The meaning of language, again 

I've don't regularly watch Rosie O'Donnell on television, and I wouldn't terribly mind if she were placed on a space shuttle destined for the sun.

That being said, I have a hard time mustering up the same level of outrage that many other Asian-Americans have over O'Donnell's recent attempt to imitate the Chinese language.

Some say that the ching-chong gibberish is comparable to the use of the word "nigger". I think that it is absurd to compare them to a term that carries the historical weight of a few centuries of slavery, violence and discrimination. I had no idea that we Asian-Americans were so insecure that we would object so strenuously to a national media figure repeating taunts that the mean kids in school used agaisnt us while they made fun of our slanty eyes. Apparently, we are.

(This is not to deny that Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans have been mistreated in the past, just that there's really no connection between that history and the specific slurs addressed here. As a converse, I think it is correct to view the word "Jap" as extremely offensive, as it gained a particularly poisonous connotation during World War II.)

Comments:

Jeez, that's ridiculous. Noted Francophobe Steve Martin had a hilarious bit from his stand-up show about 30 years ago detailing his problems in Paris. He included some made-up French-sounding syllables.

Jackie Mason (I think it was) found some people of Asian descent in his front row (don't know if they were Asian, Asian-American, Asian-English, or some other hyphen), starting talking like Rosie did, then interrupted himself to say, "Let me know when I say something real."
 


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