Chinese-Americans protest Kimmel skit in front of ABC station in downtown Raleigh

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comNovember 9, 2013 

— More than 300 people, spurred by a late-night skit on national television that offended people of Chinese descent across the country, marched in protest Saturday in downtown Raleigh.

The protesters were outraged at ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” On Oct. 16, the late-night show host asked a roundtable of children what the United States should do about its debt crisis.

“Shoot cannons all the way over and kill everyone in China!” one boy suggested.

Kimmel appeared to briefly mull over the idea.

“Kill everyone in China? Okay, that’s an interesting idea,” Kimmel replied. Then he asked the children if the United States should allow the Chinese to live.

“No!” insisted the boy, who suggested the Chinese should be killed, while the other kids said yes.

Triangle protesters and others across the country don’t blame the children.

“Kids are kids,” read one sign. “But Jimmy Kimmel is not. ABC fire racist.”

Kimmel and ABC have since apologized for the incident, but it meant little to the protesters in downtown Raleigh. The group stood in front of the ABC affiliate WTVD station on Fayetteville Street with signs such as “Hate Speech Is No Joke.”

Some held up signs that read, “Teach Kids To Love, Not To Kill,” while others held up signs demanding that ABC “admit its racist wrongdoings.”

One sign pictured Kimmel with a Nazi swastika just above his head.

On another sign, a smiling Kimmel asked a Gummi Bear dressed up like Hitler, “How should we solve the world’s problem?”

Gummi Bear Hitler: “Kill all the Jews.”

Kimmel: “That’s an interesting idea.”

The well-organized protest was attended by several segments of the Triangle’s Chinese-American community: gray-haired seniors, parents, college students and scores of children from toddlers to teenagers.

Ge Sun, who has lived in Raleigh for more than 15 years, pointed out that there are an estimated 10,000 people of Chinese descent living in the Triangle.

One elementary-age child wrapped up in an orange fleece blanket held aloft a sign that read, “Fire Jimmy Kimmel.”

Sun works as a scientist with N.C. State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He attended the protest with his 11-year-old son, Victor.

Sun said the child did not want to attend, but he told him it was important. Sun described the protest as “a kind of education” on how important it is for one’s voice to be heard.

“We rarely do this,” he said. “We rarely hear the Chinese voice.”

ABC offered an official statement after hearing from groups across the country. WTVD officials released the statement Saturday to The News & Observer:

“We offer our sincere apology. We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large. Our objective is to entertain. We took swift action to minimize the distribution of the skit by removing it from all public platforms available to us and editing it out of any future airings of the show. We hope our actions and our apology effectively address your concerns. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”

There has even been a petition filed for the Obama administration to review at the White House’s “We The People,” an online initiative, where citizens can petition the president to comment on issues if at least 100,000 people sign on during a 30-day period.

By early Saturday evening the petition had 102,760 signatures.

Lingchong You, who teaches biomedical engineering at Duke University, stood on the steps in front of the Wake County Courthouse and told the protesters that he saw the skit several days after it had aired. The segment was taped, and You wondered why the show’s producers did not eliminate the segment or at least edit out the offensive language.

You, the Duke professor, noted that Kimmel and ABC have both apologized, but he said he is not convinced the apologies are sincere.

“They find excuses and blame those who feel offended for not having a sense of humor,” he said.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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