July 3, 2008

John McCain is a Racist

During his 2000 campaign, Sen. John McCain told reporters, "I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live." While McCain claimed that he was referring only to his prison guards, an article by Katie Hong appearing in the March 2, 2000, edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains why many Asian Americans were offended by McCain's racist statement. As we fast-forward to 2008, this provides a context for interpreting the "John Kerry with a tan" comment and others made by the McCain campaign and its allies.

In her 2000 article, Ms. Hong explained that McCain's "gook" comment was alarming not only because he used a racial epithet historically applied to all Asians and because McCain refused to apologize for it, but because he faced few consequences for what he said.
To the Asian American community, the term is akin to the racist word "nigger." A friend of mine, a white male Vietnam veteran, pointed out that veterans, especially Vietnam veterans, know how spiteful the term "gook" is. It has everything to do with labeling someone as "other," the enemy and yellow. McCain sent the message that all Asians are foreigners and remain forever the "other" and the enemy.
This is the same John McCain who is again asking for the American presidency. But what would make any Asian American think that they could be represented by this man? In fact, what would make any American proponent of tolerance think that they could be represented?

This story received little media attention in 2000. Perhaps it is time to remind the American voters exactly what they would be getting with John McCain - a racist.

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