Well, it has happened again. Another sad conservative ad that uses a ridiculous, demeaning stereotype. Another sad conservative ad that thinks that a foreign accent in combination with broken English is good for cheap laughs. Another sad conservative ad that projects the narrative that some people are just plain “inferior.”
Yes, I'm talking about the “DebbieSpendItNow” ad. Personally, I thought the ad wrong on its merits. But quite frankly, its merits — or lack thereof – are a moot point. When you make an ad that becomes a minstrel show, the message is meaningless, right or wrong.
In 2010, the US Chamber of Commerce came up with the “Thank you, Bill Halter” ad during the Democratic Primary in Arkansas. Basically, the Chamber came up with an ad that showed Indians thanking Bill Halter for outsourcing jobs to India. Or more accurately, the ad showed actors that may or may not be Indian thanking Bill Halter. Let's just say that some of those accents were pretty bad.
What's so ironic about the Chamber ad is that this is an organization that really has no problem with outsourcing jobs to India – I'm sure that they support outsourcing in general. Yet when it suits them, the Chamber chose to cheaply denigrate the same group of people. And the GOP wonders why it trails badly among minority voters.
Now, Pete Hoekstra has unveiled the “DebbieSpendItNow” ad. Again, the irony is rich. It once again uses the “us against them” theme to denigrate the Chinese in a mocking manner while professing support for the American worker. Please! Does anybody truly think that Pete Hoekstra truly cares about the American worker?
And Pete didn't even use another organization to put out this ad. He did it himself. He approved this xenophobic message. How do I know that? He said so himself in the ad.
In short, there are those in the GOP who embrace xenophobia because it is a cheap and easy way for them to make political hay and help their friends. In the process, it attempt to breeds division amongst those of us striving for a better nation and world. It is contemptible and speaks to the worst of humanity.
And yet I'm not surprised. That's the sad part. The problem is that this is typical behavior for way too many people. I suppose I could express outrage. Yet, a depressed resignation is what I feel. Because it is way too common.
One of the things that I heard some conservative Republicans say to me is that we should not be “hyphenated” Americans. Well, as an Indian-American, I don't feel that these people have the right to tell me or others what we should be or should be called. But going even further, the hypocrisy of decrying “hyphenated” Americans is exposed when seeing their actual behavior. The most obvious example is the treatment of President Obama. Our first African-American president is viewed as a “foreigner.” He is accused of not being born in the United States. His loyalty to the United States is questioned. Never mind that he was born in Hawaii.
In short, some conservative Republicans say we should all just be Americans. Too bad they don't treat all Americans the same. If you are a person of color or an immigrant, they will treat you as “different” – hyphenated or not.
Maybe they don't believe the xenophobia they spread. Maybe they just do it to get votes.
But in the end, it doesn't matter. Because the hurt is the same.