Thursday, April 3, 2014

A defense of Suey Park, the activist behind #CancelColbert

Let me address right away what I thought of the #CancelColbert debacle. The joke that aired on The Colbert Show that paralleled the real life craziness of The Washington Redskins’s owner Dan Snyder’s racial insensitivity was funny satire, but I thought that the tweet from the official Colbert Show Twitter account was just asking for trouble by featuring a racist comment with no set up. 
The verified account for The Colbert Show tweeted the words
"Ching-Chong Ding-Dong" and "Orientals"
with no link to the video or any type of set up for the joke.
The offensive tweet was dumb and deserved to be called out; and social media activist, Suey Park, the woman responsible for the recent Twitter racial conversations #NotYourAsianSidekick and #HowIMetYourRacism, was the one to do so, and considering her history, she was logically the one to do so.  I disagreed with the tone of her tweets, but those tweets definitely did not deserve the shit storm that followed. While some people supported Park’s campaign, others spewed racial and sexist slurs at her and called for her rape and death. The original issue about Dan Synder’s team and foundation was drowned out, and it soon became Suey Park vs. The Colbert Show, which led to Suey Park vs. the liberal media, which then led to Suey Park vs. nearly everybody.
@ChippahsMudder writes: "@suey_park Please kill yourself.
I hope you die of beast cancer and aids combined you chink."
And people wonder why Asian-Americans are hurt
by racial stereotypes masked as jokes?
Watching all of this happen, I couldn’t believe how this hashtag turned the liberal media against a social justice activist, who in the #CancelColbert instance may have picked the wrong battle but was still fighting for the worthy cause of protecting the representation of Asian-Americans. Critics argued that Park’s hasty rush to anger eclipsed the real issue of Dan Snyder, and although they are correct, the magnitude of the backlash she received was heinous and overblown. All in all, it seemed as if the racist and misogynistic vitriol spewed her way was pent up hatred that people were dying to lash onto someone, and Park made herself stand out as a target by being a loud, angry voice in a minority group that many tend to view as “the model minority,” a stereotype which is the reason so many groups feel it’s okay to mock Asian-Americans. People aren’t afraid to say Ching-chong because Asians-Americans have never been known to fight back on a scale that was truly terrifying. Worse, many Asians thinks it’s okay to mock themselves, which further opens the door for other groups to join in. Case in point, this headline from Deadspin:
Deadspin's headline: "Gooks don't get Redskins joke" came from Asian writers,
so it's okay to publish, right? Right? Um...
People weren’t afraid to use Asian-Americans as the punchline of jokes that is until Suey Park figuratively stood up and told people “fuck you.” This message was jarring and abrasive, and most of all it was new and dangerous, which is why it scorched the internet for a few wild days.

Since the craziness has died down, and the news cycle has moved onto another story, I cannot help but be impressed with how Park handled herself. Although many may have disagreed with how she handled her original reaction to the offensive @ColbertReport tweet and the fact that she never apologized for the #CancelColbert campaign, I have come to respect her defiance. While many who would have received the barrage of hate spit her way would’ve deleted their accounts and hid, she faced the world and never stopped telling people her message. In fact, she kept saying it until others started to wonder if maybe she had a point. Even if others refuse to acknowledge the validity of her views, no one can deny that she has forced people to confront them. I agree with The Nation's article “Who’s Afraid of Suey Park.” Park has something every writer wants—the power to be heard and the power to move people. Park may have faced a backlash with this campaign, but let’s not forget that every leader has made mistakes on his or her journey for change. Park has proven that she is not going anywhere, she has proven that she has something to say, and she has proven that she’s going to say it whether or not people like her.

Personally, I find this refreshing, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.


  1. Great article Teresa and I agree with you wholeheartedly about the disgusting nature of the backlash. I tend to think that comedians have the license to push envelopes racially but it's a dangerous game. Unfortunately for the comedian, a racial joke that's not funny is just racist.

  2. And you have to love Stephen for saying on his show that if you are attacking her "on his behalf" please stop.

  3. Your argument doesn't hold water. By no means was the tweet out of context for the Colbert show. In order for that argument to be legitimate we would have to presume that the Colbert show's twitter account was no longer a satirical account but instead a credible news outlet. We know this not to be true. Colbert's twitter account has never giving us any indication that it is to be taken as anything other than satirical. That's like saying The Onion'S twitter account should now be taken at face value and held to the same standard as the AP's. No it shouldn't. The purpose of satire is to be offensive in order to show the hypocrisy of one's thinking. It's in the same vain as Socratic dialogue or more precisely Juvenal satires. Colbert's satirical tweet is a brilliant example of Jonathan Swift's style of satire. (See A Modest Proposal)

    "Charles K. Smith argues that Swift's rhetorical style persuades the reader to detest the speaker and pity the Irish. Swift's specific strategy is twofold, using a "trap"[9] to create sympathy for the Irish and a dislike of the narrator who, in the span of one sentence, "details vividly and with rhetorical emphasis the grinding poverty" but feels emotion solely for members of his own class.[10] Swift's use of gripping details of poverty and his narrator's cool approach towards them create "two opposing points of view" that "alienate the reader, perhaps unconsciously, from a narrator who can view with 'melancholy' detachment a subject that Swift has directed us, rhetorically, to see in a much less detached way."[10]"

    Swift has his proposer further degrade the Irish by using language ordinarily reserved for animals. Lewis argues that the speaker uses "the vocabulary of animal husbandry"[11] to describe the Irish. Once the children have been commodified, Swift's rhetoric can easily turn "people into animals, then meat, and from meat, logically, into tonnage worth a price per pound".[11]

    Swift uses the proposer's serious tone to highlight the absurdity of his proposal. In making his argument, the speaker uses the conventional, text book approved order of argument from Swift's time (which was derived from the Latin rhetorician Quintilian).[12] The contrast between the "careful control against the almost inconceivable perversion of his scheme" and "the ridiculousness of the proposal" create a situation in which the reader has "to consider just what perverted values and assumptions would allow such a diligent, thoughtful, and conventional man to propose so perverse a plan".[12]

    Wikipedia (A Modest Proposal)

    So you see Colbert's twitter was by no means trying to justify the term "ching-chong-ding-dong" It was using the modern form of satire i.e.twitter to show the stupidity of Dan Synder's foundation.

    Also Park also considers herself a comedian so maybe the joke is on all her supports. I don't know. As far as the death threats that's wrong and sad but it's also a given for all parties involved including some of Park's supporters that also sent death threats to the #not4sale activist.

    Sadly Parker can't seem to own up to her own ignorance if in fact is asking us to now take her seriously.

  4. Goddamn SJWs ruin everything. Suey Park, please kill yourself.

    Tweeting inane bullshit does not an activist make.
    More like a Slacktivist. Fucking hypocrite.