May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month here in the US, and the Detroit News decided to kick it off by shitting all over a pivotal event in Asian American history with a special blend of misogyny, victim blaming, and total disregard for journalistic standards. Let's celebrate your heritage by denying your history!
Neal Rubin of the Detroit News says that Vincent Chin, the Chinese American man who was beaten to death by two autoworkers in 1982 Detroit, was not the victim of a racially motivate hate crime. Chin had been with his buddies on the night of his death, celebrating his bachelor party at a strip club. A brawl broke out between Chin's group and Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz in the club. Dancers heard Ebens and Nitz calling Chin "chink," "jap," and "nip." One of the dancers heard Ebens or Nitz say, "It's because of you little motherfuckers that we're out of work!" Detroit automakers in the 1980's were not doing well in the face of competition from Japanese automakers, and the fact that Chin was not Japanese didn't make a difference. All of the men were ejected from the club, more words were exchanged.
Chin's group left, and Ebens grabbed a baseball bat from his car and went looking for them. Witnesses testified that Ebens and Nitz recruited a bystander and paid him to help catch the "Chinaman," saying they planned to bust some heads. Ebens, Nitz, and their baseball bat found Chin and his friend outside a McDonald's. Nitz held Chin down while Ebens bashed in his skull.
So why doesn't Rubin think this was a racist attack? Because the witness who heard Ebens say "It's because of you little motherfuckers that we're out of work" was an exotic dancer. PFFT LIKE WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE ANYTHING SHE SAYS. Rubin, clutching his pearls SO hard, gasped that the witness arrived in court without underwear. So, you know, liar. Never mind the fact that several other people witnessed the racial epithets.
In the same breath, Rubin points out that Ebens was convicted by a Detroit jury but the verdict was overturned supposedly because prosecution witnesses had been excessively coached. So which is it – the stripper without underwear was heavily coached, or the stripper without underwear was too wacky to be believed? A retrial was conducted, far away from Detroit, in front of an all-white jury in Cincinnati that absolved the killer. Ebens and Nitz have never served a day in jail for the killing of Vincent Chin.
Rubin's version of the events also repeatedly suggests that Chin brought this on himself. Rubin points out Chin's blood alcohol level, claims Chin threw the first punch and threw a chair, and claims Chin attempted to prolong the fight outside the club. Rubin conveniently omits anyone else's blood alcohol level, the racial slurs that were hurled, and glosses over the fact that Ebens and Nitz could have walked away after Chin left, but instead chose to find a weapon and kill a man.
The only source cited by Rubin for this article is a reporter who had covered the case. Rubin did not cite to any court transcripts or documents. Stewart Kwoh, one of the attorneys on the case, is baffled as to why Rubin made no attempt to contact anyone directly involved in the case.
But who needs fact checking and context and "balance" when we live in post-racial America, right? And when your article attracts a wave of criticism, and you edit the offending article, there's no need to mention that to your readers, right? The Asian American Journalists' Association is calling on the Detroit News to issue a retraction.
Rubin's article is not only inaccurate and insulting - it's dangerous. It's dangerous because it tells us that the truth of a woman's statement is directly proportional to her perceived sluttiness. It's dangerous because it tells us that even if a person spews racist hatred, that racism exists in a vacuum and can be separated from the violence and death that immediately follows. It's dangerous because it suggests racism doesn't exist. Rubin doesn't acknowledge that real violence against women and people of color, real deaths, have resulted from these attitudes. Rubin's article gives more fodder for people like Thad Lucken, who commented:
nowhere on planet earth is there more tolerance than in the streets of America, i am so SICK AND TIRED of all this searching and searching and searching for racism in the midst of the greatest most racially accepting country EVER!!! yes, it was a tragedy and drunks need to behave, but leave my country and my people THE AMERICANS out of your ignorant negative victimology.
Well, Thad, I'm sick of searching and searching for post-racial America. I've heard in post-racial America, the monetary currency is hugs, the healthcare is free, and people don't get their heads bashed.