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China Daily Website

Thousands rally over Kimmel show remark

Updated: 2013-11-10 23:29
By Zhou Wa in Beijing, Chen Weihua in Washington and Kelly Chung Dawson in New York ( China Daily)

Analysts: Chinese-American anger at 'kill' comment not an overreaction

Thousands rally over Kimmel show remark

Chinese-Americans and their supporters rallied at the American Broadcasting Company headquarters in Washington on Saturday to protest a skit the company aired. Protesters demanded a formal apology and that Jimmy Kimmel be fired or suspended. Fang Zhe / Xinhua

Chinese-American anger over the Jimmy Kimmel show is not an overreaction and their protest raises concern about discrimination against Chinese and other minorities in the United States, analysts said on Sunday.

Thousands of people, mostly Chinese, protested on Saturday in more than 20 cities across the US against an Oct 16 segment of late-night TV show Jimmy Kimmel Live, in which a young boy suggested killing everyone in China to wipe out US debt.

Instead of focusing on what the 6-year-old boy said, it is more important to ask why he said such a thing and how Kimmel should have responded, said Ruan Zongze, deputy director of China Institute of International Studies.

"The joke went too far," he said.

"ABC Television bears more responsibility than the boy for broadcasting what the child said. As an influential part of mainstream media in the US, it should have been aware that the boy's words would have a negative influence on American society, and it should have cut this clip when it edited the program," Ruan said.

"Instead, ABC Television and the host, Kimmel himself, showed a tolerance toward the child's words. It shows that the network and the host share an idea of inequality between Chinese-Americans and other ethnic groups, whether they are conscious of it or not."

'Less sensitive'

Compared with anti-Jewish or African-American events, other racism issues including the anti-Chinese one are less sensitive in the US, said Jin Canrong, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University of China.

"The US political correctness on racism has not covered Chinese-Americans yet," he said.

Anti-Chinese events have existed for a long time in the US, culminating with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers.

Although the US government officially apologized for that in 2012, discrimination against Chinese-Americans still exists. In consequence, many in the Chinese-American community are pushing for further action.

On Saturday, hundreds of people, most from the Chinese-American community, gathered outside the ABC headquarters in Burbank, California.

"I'm here today as a mom. All moms teach their children love, not killing," said Cao Lin, representing the Chinese-American women organizations in Southern California.

In Washington, about 400 people rallied first in front of the Washington Monument and later the ABC office building, chanting "Shame on ABC" and "Fire Kimmel". Some even held posters equating Kimmel to Adolf Hitler.

The protesters demanded ABC chiefs formally apologize to Chinese people worldwide and fire or suspend Kimmel.

Stan Tsai, chairman of the board of the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said the fact that many parents are bringing their kids to the protest shows that they are deeply concerned that Kimmel's joke may cause racial discrimination against their children.

In the Oct 16 show segment Kids Table, Kimmel discussed world issues with four children. When Kimmel asked the kids how the US should repay the country's $1.3 trillion debt to China, a 6-year-old boy replied: "Kill everyone in China."

"That's an interesting idea," Kimmel responded.

Both ABC and Kimmel later apologized.

ABC issued a statement, saying: "We offer our sincere apology. We would never purposely broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of the Chinese descent or any community at large. Our object is to entertain. We took swift action to minimize the distribution of the skit by removing it from all public platforms available to us and editing it out of any future airings of the shows.

Kimmel's on-air apology on Oct 28 and the ABC statement a day earlier were viewed by protesters as insincere. Kimmel also apologized to protesters outside his studio in Hollywood last week, but his reference to "cultural differences" that might have contributed to the misunderstanding of his humor only further angered advocacy groups.

Protesters said an apology without admitting wrongdoing is not acceptable.

Daniel Tassa, from Virginia, said the action taken by ABC is not enough. "It should fire Kimmel or at least suspend him from the air for a month," he said.

The protests show Chinese-Americans have become more aware of pursuing equality with other ethnic groups and safeguarding their civil rights, said Su Hao, a professor on global affairs at China Foreign Affairs University.

"Chinese-Americans used to be more focused on their own daily lives and care less about politics and their interests as a group. But this is now changing," he said.

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