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A Moment of Silence for Lisa Chan’s Career

February 16, 2012

Lisa Chan, the budding actress who starred in Pete Hoekstra’s now notorious campaign ad, is apparently regretting it.

The ad is not racist, as people have claimed. It’s not even xenophobic: it uses an attractive woman to represent a China which is beating America through hard work, and because America is stupid. The worst that can be said is that it assumes a dubious zero-sum conception of economics, whereby if China gets rich, the USA must get poor. (Well, that and also it employs some horrible puns).

So why all the fuss?

The ad portrays China as a competitor (which in many ways it is). This is problematic because competition forces people to choose sides, even if the competitors otherwise respect each other. In particular, the ad (unintentionally) invites Chinese-Americans to choose sides. Chinese-Americans don’t want to choose sides, and resent the suggestion that they need to. The truth is that their loyalties are divided: they have racial, familial, and cultural ties to China; there are also reasons why they or their parents left China, they have friends and jobs here, and they genuinely want to fit into their adopted home-land.

I don’t have a problem with divided loyalties. Anyone has any number of commitments, and sometimes these commitments conflict. But we love to deceive ourselves, telling ourselves that we can have everything at the same time. We hate when other people suggest that we can’t. And the more likely it is that our commitments are really going to come into conflict, the more we hate the suggestion.

A lot of huffing about ‘racism’ and other forms of ‘prejudice’ reflects this kind of insecurity about belonging. Apparently Lisa Chan wasn’t insecure, so good for her.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 11:20 pm

    (I originally commented on this article at Inmalafide.)

    Mr. Happolitti, as far as my comments to your article being “cryptic”-I don’t know if this sheds any light….

    http://stonerwithaboner.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/this-is-the-fun-i-have/

    Have a Good Day!

    • February 18, 2012 1:38 am

      Some light. Well, for my part, I like having people with different perspectives around.

      Anyway, I’m no white nationalist. (My own kids are going to be mixed.) I’m genuinely interested in the dynamics of race and gender, as you seem to be as well.

      Cheers!

      • February 18, 2012 12:52 pm

        Just in case there was any confusion…

        I wasn’t accusing you of being a white nationalist, only making an observation of that area of the manosphere and my experiences (relating to race) there….

        Cheers!

  2. February 18, 2012 1:02 pm

    “The ad is not racist, as people have claimed.”

    So, hypothetically speaking….

    If this was Jim Carey talking about Canada and how it was gaining an advantage–people’s observations would be that it was about Nationalism?

    Also, as China and other nations absorb manufacturing jobs that were done by people in the US-eventually those jobs will be replaced by robots as the costs of technology become less than the costs of labor….

    This is already being seen at the supermarket where you can self-scan items….

    • February 18, 2012 3:47 pm

      I think the Jim Carrey thing is a good analogy. No one think it was racist certainly, though I could see that some people would think he was betraying Canada.

      Besides economics, China is increasingly a competitor in geopolitics. Recently there’s been the issue of sanctions against Syria, for example.

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