PC in the Pac-12

OK, before I begin … I know some of you aren’t interested in sports.   Although this post involves the Pacific 12 Conference and the University of Southern California, it is not a sports post.  I promise.  After all, it’s Serious Saturday.  Give it a chance.

The Pac-10 Conference, the conference of my beloved USC Trojans, is expanding this year to include the University of Colorado and the University of Utah.   After careful consideration, the league is being renamed the Pac-12 Conference and Saturday is the first Pac-12 Conference game ever between USC and Utah.  It’s not a world changing event but to football fans here on the West Coast, it’s a big deal.  Amidst the excitement, Fox Sports, a network that televises many of the Pac-12 games, aired a video in which comedian Bob Oschack interviews students on the USC campus.   Take a look at it before you read on:

So, OK, Bob Oschack purposely selects Asian or Asian American students who have pronounced accents and know nothing about football.  Is he making fun of them?  Listen to what Daryl Maeda, a professor in Colorado University’s Ethnic Studies Department** says about the video: This is demeaning to millions of Asian Americans who have put down deep roots in the United States, claim English as their language and root vigorously for their favorite sports teams. He goes on to say that Oschack’s portrayal of Asian Americans as “perpetual foreigners” harks back to racist actions such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Fox Sports News has put its tail firmly between its legs and retracted the video, saying, We will review our editorial process to determine where the breakdown occurred, and we will take steps to ensure something like this never happens again.  Really.  Never again?

Now, if you throw a rock on the USC campus, odds are pretty good you’ll hit an Asian student … they make up 21.6% of the undergraduate classes.  I don’t know how hard it is to find one that doesn’t follow football … at risk of being called a racist by Maeda, I’d guess not very.   The piece could certainly be taken as good-natured, like the Metro PCS commercials featuring Indian techies.

I could also be easily convinced that both are in poor taste and I can understand Fox Sports pulling the video.  But seriously, is any Asian student demeaned because the students interviewed had accents, much less because they didn’t follow football?   And really, does the video have any relationship to the internment of the Japanese?  Where is the voice that says to the Daryl Maedas of the world, This was an attempt at humor that was probably in bad taste.  But stop saying millions of Asian students are demeaned and comparing trivialities to internment camps.  You demean the students yourself by suggesting they are demeaned by the video and trivialize the tragedy of the Japanese internment when you compare it to a minor lapse in judgement.  Like the boy who cried wolf, when you cry racist every time there is a lapse of judgement, eventually, nobody listens.   What then?

As Forrest Gump would say, And that’s all I have to say about that!  What do you think?

** Well, not quite.  It was the University of Colorado Ethnic Studies Department that gave us Ward Churchill, the academic moron who called 9-11 a natural and inevitable response and referred to technocrats working at the World Trade Center as little Eichmanns.  He was eventually fired and the firing upheld by the courts.  If you have a strong stomach and a supply of Pepto Bismol, you can read about it here.

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8 Comments on “PC in the Pac-12”

  1. marjulo Says:

    I am glad you mentioned Ward Churchill because he was certainly an embarrassing blot on CU’s record. He stands alone–like the Cheese in “Old MacDonald had a farm….” I certainly don’t want to watch him ranting ever again.

    In these days and times, ethnic studies educators can poke tender spots on both sides of the political spectrum…

    BTW–go buffs! Note the small letters–we haven’t had much to cheer about in several years, unfortunately. I’m not an alum of CU, so I don’t get very wound up about their games.

  2. Amy Says:

    To make fun of people’s shortfalls is unacceptable. To put something like this on news is distasteful, to say the least. Thank you!

    • oldereyes Says:

      I grew up, Amy, in the era of Lenny Bruce, when comedians routinely used ethnic humor in their performances, so I probably have more tolerance for it than you do. So, I could dismiss both as good natured humor of questionable taste. Certainly having and accent or not caring about football isn’t a shortfall but I can understand why you’d think it was distasteful. My point is that describing it as racism minimizes the dangers of true racism.

  3. Oscar Says:

    My response is too long to type. (Yes I did read the post) I’m on your side Bud, been around when ethnic humor was prevalent, and there’s nothing wrong with some “simple plugs”, but this was obviously intentional. BTW – The video from Fox was pulled when I went to view it. But I did hear about it on the news.

    Great post as usual Bud.

  4. Paddy Says:

    As long as there are multi-ethnic demographics in a country, there will be people shrouded in prejudices. Fortunately, they are a pitiful minority. These incidents are only demeaning to the perpetrators, not to the ‘victims’, if they can be called that. Thanks Bud for throwing in a good, thougtful issue.

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