It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window.

“Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage…”

Bill Maher in the Huffington Post


If I had to pick a blanket term to describe my political views, it would be liberal, and in our exalted homeland’s highly functional two-party system, this means that I almost always back Democratic candidates. The Democratic party, its candidates, and its platform are (generally) less racist, sexist, and homophobic than the Republican party, and this pleases me. I try to feel ok about the fact that my vote is basically decided using the criterion “who doesn’t hate me,” but occasionally I realize how ridiculous it is that my criterion for voting is “who doesn’t hate me.”

Then, there are those days when I am reminded that the criterion is not “who doesn’t hate me,” but rather, “who hates me less.”

Liberal racism, y’all. It’s a thing.

Now, I can whole-heartedly sympathize with Bill Maher’s sentiments towards Todd Akin and his magical rape-proof vagina (I know it’s technically the uterus, but vagina has such a nice ring to it). Unfortunately, the fact that Mr. Maher has reasonably educated views on the non-existence of magical rape-proof vaginas does not cancel out his unreasonably uneducated off-hand insult towards Asians. I mean, really, he couldn’t think of a better simile?

The abridged run-down of the racial stereotypes invoked through Bill Maher’s dissing of Asian places with chickens hanging in the window:

  1. The curse of the perpetual foreigner. In the eyes of the media/average American, Asian Americans are more strongly associated with their “country of origin” (nevermind if that country of origin is the US) than with America. They are always them, not us.
  2. “Asians are all the same”- “Asian” places are typically not ones that have chickens hanging in the window due to the fact that pan-Asian cuisine typically (not always) caters to people who order Pad Thai and Sushi from Chinese restaurants and hence are probably the kind of people who  would be totally grossed out by seeing a chicken hanging in the window (unless they are authenticity junkies looking for their latest ethnic fix). No, it’s more likely that the ethnic group Mr. Maher was trying to insult were “the Chinese slaves who make TVs” that he refers to later in his article.
  3. “Asian people are gross”- This one has mostly died off since the Gold Rush, but people occasionally like to bring it back every so often to keep the model minority from getting too many ideas. Oh, your daughter got into to Harvard? WELL AT LEAST I DON’T EAT CATS (unless I’m eating them to prove how cool and authentic I am because your culture is only acceptable when I consume it).


Look, this isn’t a BIG FREAKIN DEAL. No one’s going to show up outside of Bill’s office with picket signs. I’m not crying myself to sleep tonight. I honestly don’t think that most people who read his article even caught the comment. But it’s this kind of racism–the kind where people laugh at off-hand comments and ask you about your Tiger Mom and complain to you that their ex-boyfriend is dating an Asian girl–that flies under the radar straight into the heads and hearts of Good Liberal Americans Who Don’t See Race Because I Adopted A Korean Baby And Also I Have A Black Friend. Maybe I should vote Republican- at least they’re upfront about what they believe…

Just as soon as my magical rape-proof vagina arrives in the mail.


Filed under Race

2 responses to “It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window.

  1. Good job calling this out.

  2. My republican family members prove their coolness by listing black members of the party and admiring how pretty Mia Love is. I did a double take when I heard him say this and I too am glad you said something! Well done.

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