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Rendell’s comments far from innocent

 
 

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be watching Sunday night football on Tuesday and feeling happy that Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania will be out of office on Jan. 18.

It couldn’t come soon enough.

He may not like it that America is getting “soft,” but that doesn’t mean he has to go borderline racist to motivate wussy Americans into being tough, hearty, and invincible sorts.

The governor was grousing about how NBC’s Sunday Night Football game between the Eagles and Vikings was cancelled and delayed until Tuesday after the Blizzard of 2010 took a giant dump on Philadelphia.

What’s a little snow, right?

“We’ve become a nation of wusses,” said Rendell on a local Philadelphia radio station, though perhaps he pulled his punch by making the condition of wussiness into a general American state. It’s not just Philly wusses. It’s American wusses.

But did he have to reinforce it all with an ethnic touch?

Said Rendell: The Chinese are kicking our butts in everything. If this was China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game?”

Of course, no one has heard of a Chinese Football League, but if they had one, I’m sure on Sunday, a Himalayan team would have been suited up and ready for kick-off.

Still, why does the comparison these days always have to be with China? They aren’t the only ones kicking our butts. In Cold War times, Rendell could have said Russia and we’d all have a laugh while drinking frozen vodka shots.

I would have preferred Rendell mention some other possible ethnic fantasy, say the Icelandic Football League, or perhaps the Norwegian Football League. They are an infinitely smaller minority. And they really like stuff like ice fishing.

But Rendell chose to display his fetish for Asian stereotypes, and it went from somewhat innocent to definitely nasty.

Rendell: “The Chinese people would have been marching down to the stadium. They would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”

Calculus?

The only thing missing was a reference to Chinese driving skills and bowl haircuts.

Whipping up a frenzy of national pride is one thing. But in the age of diversity in America, using racial terms to motivate is just plain tricky. Especially among Asian American wusses.

Still think Rendell’s comments are no big deal and worth a free pass? Consider that just this month, the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with school officials in South Philadelphia over an AALDEF complaint regarding the attacks of over two dozen Asian American students at a public high school.

The agreement assures that the equal rights of Asian and Asian American kids to pursue a first class public education will be honored.

That certainly was in question at the time of the original incident on Dec. 3, 2009, when dozens of Asian immigrants from South Philadelphia High School were assaulted on campus throughout the day. It was the climax of years of harassment that school officials never took seriously.

Perhaps that’s because they shared Rendell’s casual and informal views on Asia that can easily lead to anti-Asian and anti-immigrant violence.

The kids who led the attack on the Asian American and Asian immigrant students were hardly wusses. They were worse.

They were race bullies.

The kind Rendell would cheer?