Friday, February 01, 2008

Inclinations Conflict

I think that having a president who uses racial slurs would be a terrible thing.

But I'm inclined to cut torture victims a lot of slack, particularly when they are talking about their captors.



ADDED LATER: Everyone's points make a lot of sense, particularly Jeff's point that McCain is painting all Asians with a slur intended for his torturers. (It's better in Jeff's words. Check the comments.)


Anonymous said...

I suppose I would cut someone some slack in private for using this sort of language (given the circumstances), but I think there is a higher standard required in public life. Political candidates do not have spoken, private opinions. At the very least, I think this is something that McCain should keep to himself.

OTOH, note the date on this story. It is from the 2000 presidential election. In 2008, he is not being so confrontational.

Shelby said...

No way should McCain get a pass on this. He's defending hateful language and hateful ways of thinking. That's simply unacceptable in a candidate for president.

Anonymous said...

Due to the horrendous torture I'm inclined to cut him a certain amount of slack, but not enough to let him off the hook when trying to become the elected representative of a country with millions of Asian-descended citizens. If he hasn't dealt with this for good and moved on in the eight years since that article, then I'd say he's disqualified as a worthy presidential candidate.

James said...

I think it is important to note that President Clinton did not anywhere nor at any time use a racial slur. He, I think, coldly and calculatingly, through several statements during the South Carolina campaign attempted to shift Senator Obama from being a candidate who is black to be a black candidate. This was unseemly enough for me to consider shifting my support from Senator Clinton. But that's what he did...

As to Mr MCain's remark. I believe "gook" is reprehensible. Yes, there is context here. But I think that that Senator McCain used it as recently as eight years ago would wisely be factored if considering whether he should be our next president.

Stephanie said...

I'm not okay with him using that term.

Bill Baar said...

I think calling them bastards wiser.

Chalicechick said...

(((I think calling them bastards wiser.)))

I agree.


Bill Baar said...

There is a strong Lao and Cambodian community where I live. Here's a story on one of them.

Calling McCain's Communist guards gooks is pretty mild stuff for them.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I'm not sure you get the point of all this. It has nothing to do with how much insult the guards deserve. The problem isn't that he called some total bastards a racial remark, it's that decades later he uses it when it is hurtful to millions of Americans (to say nothing of billions of Asians) who had nothing to do with his experiences. No matter how many times he says he is directing his ire at specific people who done him wrong, every time he opens his mouth and says "gook" a majority of Asian-Americans are going to feel like its an extension of the unequal treatment they've experienced. The fact that some Vietnamese bad guys tortured McCain 40 years ago doesn't give him the right to use hurtful language toward innocent Asians today. Racial remarks don't just target the bastards (whose race isn't what made them bad in the first place), they just lump in all the people on his side of the war, the huge mass of innocent people caught in-between, and all the other people of vaguely related ancestry together with the bad guys. There is nothing mild about using racial slurs.

Bill Baar said...

Asia Week from back in 2000,

“I call them murderers and shit-heads,” said Joe Tran, referring to the North Vietnamese soldiers whom he fought against during the Vietnam War.

Tran, a Southern California resident and a former police colonel for the South Vietnamese army, wasn’t among the many Asian Americans who were stunned and offended when Arizona senator and presidential candidate John McCain defended his use of the word “gook” to describe the North Vietnamese prison guards who tortured him in a POW camp from 1967 to 1973.

“When McCain referred to the Vietcong interrogators who were cruel to him, who tortured him, who starved him, I can understand how he feels when he called them ‘gooks.’

McCain apologized but if people opposed to him want to rehash this one, I'm guessing McCain will still get the Vietnamese/Lao/Cambodian vote (at least around here); maybe with shit head instead.

Anonymous said...

CC, glad my remarks came across well. I think the last link Bill just provided pretty much proves the case that McCain's use of the term was unjustified and that large numbers of Asian-Americans were indeed offended. Glad to see McCain's apologized (it seemed unthinkable that he hadn't) and hopefully he's moved on. Assuming that's the case, at this point eight years later I wouldn't hold it against him, which isn't the same thing as saying I feel totally OK with it.

I still wonder if Bill understands this issue. Calling them shitheads is not a problem. That doesn't tar millions of people who have nothing to do with the people who hurt McCain. No one ever yelled "shithead!" at an innocent Asian person in order to make them feel that they and their family were unwanted and had better leave town quick or get lynched. If one South Vietnamese guy says he isn't bothered by the term "gook" that's a drop in the bucket compared to the many who expressed outrage and who would feel disenfranchised an administration governed by someone who unrepentantly used a word that was created to render them less than human. In the 21st century all Americans have every right to assume their race will not make them second-class citizens in the eyes of their own president, and any candidate who persisted in using racial slurs would pretty much fail that common sense test.

Comrade Kevin said...

McCain's public admissions are well-documented, plus the four books he has written. Until now, he has not been held accountable for even 20% of exceptionally objectionable things he has uttered. His love affair with the media as some sort of maverick figure has a large role in the matter.

Gook? That's mild stuff considering some of the things he has said in the course of his life.

I hope the rest of America will wake up. We have several more months of rude awakenings.

Bill Baar said...

Gook? That's mild stuff considering some of the things he has said in the course of his life.

We abandoned SW Asia to decades of hell. How many here, who are appalled at the term Gook, who were around in the 70s, just felt the genocide in Cambodia was not America's business?

Or when the boat people fled Vietnam, that that too, was just something those asians had to sort out for themselves.

American's washed their hands of SW Asia, we had had enough.

Somehow I think History will look back on that and judge us harshly...

McCain may use harsh language, but he will not abandon an ally. The world will notice that and not care one wit about his language.