According to Detroit Metro Times, Detroit State Rep. Bettie Cook Scott has apologized for referring to her Asian-American opponent for state senate, Rep. Stephanie Chang, as a “ching-chong.”
The racial slur was one of several delivered in front of multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday’s primary election. Scott also called one of Chang’s campaign volunteers an “immigrant,” adding “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country.”
Among those present when the racially charged comments were made was Chang’s husband, Sean Gray, who told reporters he “asked [Scott] not to speak about my wife in that manner,” adding:
At that time she said to the voter that ‘these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.’ Further, she said it ‘disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.’
Gray submits that Scott went on to call him a “fool” for marrying Chang. For the record, Stephanie Chang was born in Detroit.
As noted earlier, Scott did issue an apology. After “more than a dozen community groups and the Michigan Democratic Party” got on her case, she said through a representative:
I deeply regret the comments I made that have proven hurtful to so many. Those are words I never should have said.
I humbly apologize to Representative Chang, her husband, Mr. Gray, and to the broader Asian American community for those disparaging remarks. In the divisive age we find ourselves in, I should not contribute further to that divisiveness.
I have reached out to Representative Chang to meet with her so that I may apologize to her in person. I pray she and the Asian American community can find it in their hearts to forgive me.
I’m sure it was all very heartfelt. No doubt the reason she had a member of her campaign staff read the statement for her was that she was too distraught to read it herself.
But seriously. Cook didn’t just blurt out a single ethnic slur. She unloaded a cascade of the most intense kind of bigotry, right down to telling another person to “go back where you came from.”
The same day the story ran in the Metro Times, a followup piece that carried her apology also carried a statement by the Michigan Democratic Party that read:
We expect better from anyone who wants to call themselves [sic] a Michigan Democrat. Bettie Cook Scott needs to apologize to the entire Asian American community. If an individual doesn’t share our fundamental values of tolerance, decency, and respect, they should find another party.
Cook’s lip service was enough to mollify her party. But should she be allowed to remain in the state legislature, representing a congressional district (District 1) that is 3.3% Asian?
Before you answer, consider a second scenario that played out 945 miles away in Jackson, Miss. Last weekend, a white hospital worker got into a heated exchange with a black donut shop employee, whom he ended up calling the n-word. The only reason anyone even knows this occurred is that the donut seller immediately pulled out her cell phone, hit “record,” and began egging on the customer, repeating the words, “Say it again.” He did, and she posted the video on social media, where it went viral.
The hospital worker was promptly fired. The hospital released a statement reading:
We are aware of the confrontation captured on video involving one of our off duty employees at a local donut shop. We take this situation very seriously. This employee’s language and behavior does [sic] not represent our organization’s values and his employment has been terminated.
I am in now way condoning use of the n-word, which in recent years has taken on an especially poison connotation. But the man who uttered it, Kyle Thomas, was not an employee at the time he uttered it; the incident occurred outside of his place of work.
Bettie Cook Scott’s invective, by contrast, was made in a setting that is central to her job as a state legislator. Why is she not being held to the same standard as Kyle Thomas?
If there is anything positive to report from this mixed morality tale, it is that Stephanie Chang won last Tuesday’s primary with 49% of the vote to Scott’s 11%. I’d like to think that Cook’s bigotry and blind hatred had something to do with those results.
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