Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What the reaction to Jeremy Lin reveals about America

Jeremy Lin has dribbled America into the previously quiet corner of its casual prejudice and lazy stereotypes of Asian Americans.

The true beauty of his story is in awareness of the ugliness that has been found there. ...

America should see itself in the murky reflection of a society that has long considered it reasonable to publicly categorize Asian Americans in ways that would never be acceptable for other, more vocal minorities.

America should see the writer from Foxsports.com who began the barrage of ignorance last week by tweeting a tired joke about the assumed size of Lin's manhood. The guy apologized, but his company did not, which should not be surprising considering Fox Sports is also the outfit that last fall aired a segment in which a reporter ridiculed Asian Americans at USC for not understanding football.

Can you imagine a major American media company tolerating this sort of blatant racism if it were directed toward any of Lin's African American teammates?

America should see the game video from the Knicks' MSG network in which cameras focused on a homemade sign that showed Lin's face above a fortune cookie with the words, "The Knicks Good Fortune.''

Can you imagine, five months from now, that same television director willingly airing a shot of a sign that made fun of the heritage of a Latino member of the New York Mets?

If America has the stomach, it should even watch the tape of the WNYW morning show in New York where one of the anchors, upon hearing a reporter list Lin's physical attributes, asked, "What about his eyes?"

The newsman made the slur, he sort of winked with glee, the entire news desk laughed and I'm thinking, you're kidding me, right? In a media world that is reluctant to even cite a subject's ethnicity unless it is relevant, it's suddenly OK to openly laugh about Lin's cultural characteristics because, well, because he's Asian American and everybody does it? ...

America really needs to watch the "Saturday Night Live'' skit in which three sports reporters laughingly discuss Lin while using Asian American slurs, yet when a fourth newsman tries to discuss other Knicks by using African American slurs, they become offended.
--Bill Plaschke, LA Times, on the different rules for Asians. HT: MEL