By KENNETH LEE
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 6, 2014) — The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), is outraged by the racist tweets from Kathy Groob, a prominent Democrat and founder of the Political Action Committee (PAC) Elect Women, regarding former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
On Sunday, Kathy Groob tweeted “Hey Mitch, nothing against your wife and spouses should be off limits; since you mentioned, she isn’t from KY, she is Asian.” When Groob was questioned by other Twitter users on why race had anything to do with the political race, she responded through a tweet saying, “”Either way, she’s not from KY, she is Asian and Bush openly touted that.” Groob’s last tweet on the subject was “Google Elaine Chao, #MitchMcConnell’s wife. No mention of Kentucky, she is Asian.”
“Racism has no place in American politics. Political operators cannot continue to use racist remarks, provide a simple apology, and then expect to be forgiven,” said Sharon Wong, OCA National President. “Kathy Groob’s tweets were offensive and perpetuate the idea that Asian Pacific Americans will always be foreigners. Our communities have lived in the United States for over 100 years and share a common history with all Americans. Comments like Kathy Groob’s are part of the reason why APAs continue to be viewed as non-American, and an eight-word apology does not alleviate the consequences of her insensitive and inappropriate words.”
The Kentucky Democratic Party responded to Kathy Groob’s tweets, saying “These comments are abhorrent and have no place in Kentucky politics. We strongly denounce them.” Groob apologized through Twitter saying “My sincere apologies for poor choice of words.”
Kenneth Lee is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Organization of Chinese Americans.
The Japanese American Citizens League also condembed the battle to win favor in the marketplace of political ideas, calling it a distasteful turn of racial rhetoric. Twitter posts attacked Elaine Chao, the former Secretary for the Department of Labor, and musician Ted Nugent used a vile racial slur at a political rally.
Chao, who is married to Senator Mitch McConnell, was the target of a racial attack in an attempt to tarnish McConnell’s campaign for the Senate in Kentucky. In several Twitter posts, Kathy Groob, a Democratic activist and the founder of a group called Elect Women, said, “She (Chao) isn’t from KY, she is Asian,” and “Wedded to free trade China.” The posts were rebuked by the Democratic Party and were taken down.
While speaking before the Big Horn Basin Tea Party gathering, Nugent used the slur “Japs” to underscore his notion of evil. In criticizing the government, he said, “…We have bent over since World War II because we couldn’t believe that good – the universally celebrated good of America crushed the universally understood evil of Japs and Nazis. We couldn’t believe that the government that represented us in good over evil could possibly turn on us…”
The use of racism continues to plague the everyday lives of Asian Americans in the utterances by Groob and Nugent. It’s unfortunate that racist quips continue as a convenient tool to inflame a pliable segment of the electorate. The JACL has consistently railed against these tactics because we know that provoking fear by using racism is often effective.
The JACL has stated repeatedly that it is important to confront racism wherever it appears. We cannot afford to be bystanders, especially when haters seek to spread fear. In the coming months, political campaigns will seek to gain an advantage where the partisan divides are deep and where certain issues are extremely contentious. It will be important for everyone to remain vigilant and respond where necessary because our best defenses for combating racism are education and the reliance on good people to stand up, speak out, and reject it.