Civil Rights Commissioner Calls Hoekstra Super Bowl Ad ‘Blatantly Racist’

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A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has written a letter to Rep. Pete Hoekstra asking him to stop airing an ad featuring an Asian American actress pretending to speak broken English.

“I urge you to stop airing this offensive ad immediately and to reconfigure your website to remove the smear of ignorance and bigotry that permeates every page,” Commissioner Michael Yaki wrote in a letter sent to Hoekstra on Monday morning.

Yaki wrote to express his “deep disgust and offense” at “blatantly racist anti-Asian ad” that first aired in Michigan during the Super Bowl broadcast. The ad brands Hoekstra’s opponent Sen. Debbie Stabenow as “Debbie Spend-It-Now” and features a website with Chinese writing.

“There are plenty more effective and factual means of communicating issues surrounding job flight or job loss with China, or any country for that matter, that do not resort to using a phony accent, pidgin English, and scenery and music designed to evoke an atmosphere that plays on stereotypes that Asian Americans have fought against for decades,” Yaki wrote. “The defense offered by someone in your campaign that they were attempting to portray the educational advances in China (using bad grammar?) shows how little thought was given to the offense your ad would inflict on Asian Americans.”

Hoekstra campaign spokesman Paul Ciaramitaro said the ad is meant to be satirical, the Associated Press reports. “Democrats talk about race when they can’t defend their records,” Ciaramitaro said. “The U.S. economy is losing jobs to China because of Stabenow’s reckless spending policies. China is reaping the reward.”

The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Yaki’s letter.

More from Yaki’s letter:

It seems that you have chosen, through either laziness, lack of imagination, or plain bigotry, to appeal to the lowest common denominator in your campaign. In the 21st century, in a state with an active Asian American population, your campaign has sunk to a level more reminiscent of the 1920’s, where concerns about the ‘yellow peril’ resulted in a tide of anti-Chinese sentiment.

Perhaps you need a history lesson of Chinese American contributions to this country. It was Chinese Americans who established the principle that citizenship in this country was a birthright. It was Chinese Americans who tested and established that the principle of equal protection found in the 14th Amendment did, indeed, prevent discrimination on the basis of race. Chinese Americans fought and died valiantly in our armed forces. There are prominent Chinese Americans in all levels of American political life, in all political parties. Your ad is an offense to them and all their contributions to our great country.

Here’s the ad:

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