Washington, D.C. – The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is disturbed by a recent segment during The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News that employed a number of offensive stereotypes regarding Asian Pacific Americans. In this segment, Jesse Watters conducted interviews in New York City Chinatown, supposedly due to the importance of China as part of the discussion in the recent Presidential debate.
Although this reinforcement of the “perpetual foreigner” myth would have been problematic by itself, Watters went on to mock and misrepresent Asian culture with a number of stereotypical gestures, such as bowing, asking about martial arts, and mocking older adults who had limited English proficiency.
At the end of the segment, Watters and O’Reilly reflect upon the “gentle fun” of the interviews. Although this may have been their intent, the segment is extremely offensive to Asian Pacific Americans, and their dialogue at the end regarding the “insulated” nature of Chinatown with its “polite people” do nothing but reinforce existing stereotypes.
Humor can be an important tool for revealing absurdities underlying racism, but in this case the segment only showed how ignorant Watters and O’Reilly are about the Asian American community.
We join our allies in demanding that Fox News and The O’Reilly Factor issue a formal apology for this segment. As the fastest growing community in the country, the opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders should be treated with the same respect as other communities, not used as a punchline for a bad joke.