BY KEN MOCHIZUKI
Examiner Assistant Editor
Washington, D.C. – The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), a national Asian Pacific American organization dedicated to ensuring social justice for Asian Pacific Americans, questions the tone and intent of Rosie O’Donnell’s apology for comments made on the morning talk show, “The View” on Dec. 5, and its implications on the Asian Pacific American population.
During the episode, O’Donnell was commenting on an appearance by an allegedly intoxicated Danny Divito on the show on Nov. 29. O’Donnell commented on how the incident was reported in China. In imitating the accents of Chinese reporters, O’Donnell said, “The fact is that it’s news all over the world. You know, you can imagine in China it’s like, ‘Ching chong, ching chong, Danny DeVito, ching chong chong chong chong, drunk, The View, ching chong.’”
O’Donnell’s comments prompted laughter and applause from the audience and her co-hosts, followed by a loud “gong” sound that her producers added for a supposed comic effect.
“While the phrase ‘ching chong’ is a humiliating ethnic slur usually directed at people of Chinese nationality or ancestry, the use of the phrase is usually directed at anyone of Asian descent,” read an OCA statement calling for O’Donnell to apologize. “The phrase and its offensive connotations have been used by other celebrities such as Adam Carolla and Shaquille O’Neal. In both cases, OCA issued a public statement condemning the racist intentions of the phrases and an apology followed. “
The statement continued to say that “OCA is following up with letters to executives at the network, the show and to O’Donnell.”
O’Donnell initially defended her actions by commenting on her official Web site that Asians should learn to “grasp her humor,” and through the New York Post told Asians to “loosen up” after a public outcry from national Asian Pacific American civil rights organizations and media watchdog groups including OCA, the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and the Asian American Journalists Association.
“Ms. O’Donnell’s comments show how much ignorance exists about Chinese and Asians in general,” said AAJC President and Executive Director Karen K. Narasaki. “The fact that neither she nor her producers understand how that phrase has been used to denigrate Asians and Asian Americans – to the extent that it has become a racial slur – is appalling.”
“What is even more troubling is her response when the issue was brought to her attention. The sad irony is that Ms. O’Donnell, herself a personal champion of fighting intolerance on the basis of sexual orientation, is unable to see beyond her own bigotry.”
“We hope that Barbara Walters does not condone that kind of humor on the show she helped to create and we call on Ms. O’Donnell and The View’s producers to apologize.”
O’Donnell eventually did apologize during the Dec. 14 episode of “The View.”
“You know, it was never [my] intent to mock, she said, “and I’m sorry for those people who felt hurt or were teased on the playground.” She further went on to characterize her accent as “Chinese, Asian, pseudo-Japanese, sounded a little Yiddish …”
“I am very concerned about the tone and intent of Ms. O’Donnell’s so called ‘apology,’” said OCA National President Ginny Gong. “I don’t believe she fully realizes the seriousness of what she did in front of millions of Americans and the impact it has on our community. Jokes used by comics should not be at the expense of an entire population of people. As a very public figure, she is an influential role model and should lead by example.”
“OCA would never condone the mocking of any language in this manner and tone,” commented Michael Lin, OCA executive director. “O’Donnell does not show the respect that all Americans are entitled to, nor do we think she realizes how this type of language can manipulate itself into much more serious and potentially violent acts. We will be calling on our chapters and affiliates to proactively educate our community and the community-at-large to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.”