Ann Coulter may be the Cornell alum of whom my school is most embarrassed.
The Far Right commentator deploys few facts to defend any mainstream conservative viewpoints, preferring instead to go full-tilt racist and intolerant. She routinely is found stoking the fires of Islamophobia, calling for a return to literacy tests at the ballot box, lamenting women’s suffrage, and using all manner of slurs.
And yet, Coulter routinely remains — despite her bigoted and inane commentary — a fixture of mainstream media’s political talk shows.
Last night, Coulter appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in a segment with the host and fellow guest Joy Reid (video after the jump). In discussing protests at Trump rallies, Coulter veered once more into the bizarre and racist when she first referred to Asian Americans as “Mandarins”, and then she insisted for the next minute and a half that this is the most correct term for our community.
Just six months after University of Southern California’s student body president — who is Asian American — was victimized by a racial epithet, another incident of anti-Asian racism has rocked the campus. Yesterday, USC sophomore Ivan Tsang posted to his Facebook describing an ugly incident of racism he endured early Sunday morning. Tsang writes that while he was sitting by the outdoor fireplace of Cardinal Gardens — an on-campus townhouse-style housing complex — someone yelled a racist and homophobic phrase at him from an upper-level balcony, and tried to hit him repeatedly with eggs.
USC has already made headlines for being a potentially unsafe environment for international students from China. Last year, USC graduate student Xinran Ji was targeted for a brutal robbery because he was Chinese, and beaten to death. A year earlier, Chinese graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed in their parked car, sparking an outcry from the Chinese community. Against this context, the incident of racism described by Tsang is chilling.
It’s Asian vs. Asian, once again.
Earlier this year, I profiled the Oregon-based Asian American rock band, “The Slants“, whose fight to trademark their name had gone all the way to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. According to their website, The Slants has been making music together since their 2007 debut album “Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts“.
Recently, however, The Slants have found themselves embroiled in a legal battle with the US Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO), which denied them registration for the trademark of their band name on the grounds that it is derogatory towards Asian Americans. The 1946 Lanham Act prohibits registered trademarks from “consisting of or comprising of immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”
It is on this basis that opponents of the Washington Redskins and other racist sports mascots have demanded that the NFL #ChangeTheName. And indeed, when the federal government allows an entity to register a racist, sexist, or otherwise derogatory trademark, they in so doing condone the language by granting it institutional recognition and legal protection.
But, should all uses of all historically derogatory slurs simply become — in essence — blacklisted — prohibited regardless of context?
In March, social media exploded with the story of a woman who was arrested for vandalism after she used lipstick to challenge a newly opened Chicago eatery for its racist name. The restaurant was called “Chop Chop Chinaman”, a reference to a number of archaic anti-Asian slurs and stereotypes. Local resident Jeannie Harrell scrawled on the restaurant’s front window, “Fuck this hate crime shit. It’s 2015.” and posted a picture of the graffiti on Instagram, leading to her arrest and misdemeanor charges. Harrell’s court appearance occurred on Tuesday; she plead guilty and was sentenced to 1-month suspension and a $200 fine.
However, most agreed — then and now — that even if Harrell might have committed vandalism, she was right to point out that the restaurant name is indeed offensive and racist. The story of Harrell’s arrest prompted a social media backlash against “Chop Chop Chinaman”, including numerous 1-star reviews of the restaurant on Yelp, leaving the restaurant with an overall 1.5 star average rating.
Last October, Chicago-area entrepreneur Larry Lee helped to open a restaurant featuring Chinese & Szechwan cuisine. The sign featured a figure wearing a “coolie” hat and pulling a cart beneath that icky “chop suey” font. Lee called his restaurant “Chop Chop Chinaman”.
Yeah, dude, that shit is racist.
Local Chicago-area resident Jeannie Harrell agreed. A self-identified biracial Asian American, Harrell passed the restaurant one night in February and decided to express herself. She took a tube of lipstick out of her purse and wrote a message on the store window.
Harrell took a picture of the graffiti and posted it to social media. A week later, police arrived to arrest Harrell for misdemeanor criminal damage of private property.