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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

June 20, 2007

Written by C.N.

Obama’s Anti-Asian Goof

A little while ago, you might remember that Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran into some hot water with Asian Americans for refusing to allow Chinese American journalists to attend a press conference. Well, now it looks like it’s her main Democratic opponent’s turn to piss off Asian Americans. As CBS News reports, Barack Obama’s campaign raised the ire of Indian Americans over a leaked memo in which they ridiculed Clinton’s ties to Indian and Punjabi businesses:

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama on Monday disavowed a memo criticizing rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s financial ties to India, blaming his campaign staff for a “dumb mistake.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama labeled the memo and its headline — “Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)” — as “unnecessarily caustic.” The memo had referred to Bill and Hillary Clintons’ investments in India; her fundraising among Indian-Americans; and the former president’s $300,000 in speech fees from Cisco, a company that has moved U.S. jobs to India.

“It was a dumb mistake on our campaign’s part and I made it clear to my staff in no uncertain terms that it was a mistake,” Obama told the AP in a brief interview. . . . “It is not reflective of the long-standing relationship I have had with the Indian-American community,” Obama said in the interview.

“The issue of outsourcing is a genuine and important issue but to refer to one particular country was, I think, an error and I let all of us know that we’ve got to be more careful about how we communicate,” he said.

Not a good move on the part of Obama’s campaign, especially considering that among all Asian Americans, Indian Americans are the third largest and tend to be the most educated and the wealthiest, meaning that they represent a potentially powerful constituent group. Not to mention the fact that Asian Americans of all ethnicities are a little wary when one Asian group is attacked because we know from experience that such prejudice can easily be transferred to all Asian Americans.

As I wrote after Hillary Clinton’s goof, I will accept Obama’s apology for now, but like all candidates — Democratic or Republican — he needs to make sure something like this will definitely not happen again and second, to demonstrate his sincerity through actions, not words.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Obama’s Anti-Asian Goof" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/06/obamas-anti-asian-goof/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=453