In recent weeks, Chinese-American communities across the U.S. have organized to protest a segment on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Oct. 16, in which a child suggested that killing everyone in China is the way for America to resolve its debt crisis. As a Chinese-American, I'd like to explain why it is not right to joke about killing everyone in China.
First, it is against the universal value that has been championed by Americans: We should respect lives and treat people equally and humanely.
Second, our media should not sanction children's belief in killing. We have suffered too much violence in this country.
Third, our media should not alienate Chinese people, most of whom have a positive perception of the U.S. Many middle-class Chinese have started their visits to the U.S. spending thousands of dollars in American hotels and stores, and bringing back to China good observations about Americans.
A great number of Chinese students either have been to the U.S. or want to come here to study. Most Chinese people admire many American values, including treating people equally. Even on the government-monitored Chinese Internet, a lot of blogs praise the great things about America: clean air, less corruption and rule of law.
Though it is fair for the American media to criticize some shortcomings of the Chinese government, such as its failure to eradicate corruption, control pollution and give people more freedom, it is not OK to belittle Chinese people who are hardworking, peace-loving and have friendly attitudes toward American people.
In the 21st century, it is essential to enhance the friendship between American people and Chinese people because it is the best way to avoid any geopolitical conflict between the established superpower — the U.S. — and the rising superpower — China.
Fourth, our media should not hurt the feelings of Chinese-Americans, who are key contributors to America and love this country. About two centuries ago, Chinese-Americans made tremendous sacrifices and helped build our great railway system and other infrastructure projects.
Today, as the largest subgroup of Asian-Americans, along with other Asian-Americans, Chinese-Americans have become a great American success story. With a pro-education, pro-family and self-reliance culture and through hard work, Chinese-Americans have become among the highest-income and best-educated racial groups in the U.S., according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report.
Many well-educated Chinese-Americans have become the backbone of our high-tech industries, engineering firms and research-and-development centers, contributing to American technology leadership and economic prosperity. In addition, Chinese/Asian-Americans have the lowest divorce rate, crime rate and obesity rate. On a per-capita basis, we contribute more tax revenues but consume less spending on single-parent family subsidies, crime control and health care.
Equally important, most Chinese-Americans love this country, and many are making efforts to help America address its tough challenges such as the decline in education quality and poor money management.
I have Chinese-American friends in New Jersey who are running for the school board in order to help U.S. education. And last year I met a talented Chinese-American girl, a former national champion of MathCounts, who volunteered to assist in coaching a math team at Sanford Middle School.
Every Christmas, our local Chinese-American organizations send our kids to the Salvation Army to help out. In my spare time, I do radio interviews to share successful Chinese parenting and money-management experiences to more American families. Unfortunately, our mainstream media cover more "Chinese spies" than Chinese-American contributors.
During Asian-American Heritage Month this past May, I don't recall major news media celebrating the great achievements and contributions of Asian-Americans.
Why have Chinese-Americans become angry about "Jimmy Kimmel Live"? It is because killing everyone in China would include our sisters, brothers and parents who still live there. For a minority group that rarely complains and competes for the spotlight, we have started to realize that we need a positive attitude and more balanced reporting from our mainstream media.
This Oped was first published on November 7, 2013 by Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun.