APIs demand apology from radio host Rush Limbaugh

Asian American leaders called on the conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh to apologize to the Chinese community for mocking Chinese President Hu Jintao on air Jan. 19. In response to his call for an apology, however, one Bay Area politician has been the recipient of threats.

Limbaugh was complaining on his show about a Fox News broadcast that omitted translation of Hu’s words, and spent 18 seconds speaking gibberish.

“Normally they translate every couple of words, but Hu Jintao was just going chin chong, chin chong cha…,” he said before continuing to mimic the language.

California state Sen. Leland Yee, who chairs the state Senate Select Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs, said Limbaugh owes the Chinese community an apology for his “pointless and ugly offense.”

“His classless act is an insult to over 3,000 years of cultural history, and is a slap in the face to the millions of Chinese Americans who have struggled in this country and to a people who constitute one-quarter of the world’s population,” said Yee, D-San Francisco, in a statement. “His comments… are sadly indicative of the bigotry that has often plagued his commentary and lined his pockets.”

Assemblymember Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, also demanded an apology. “To mock the Chinese language is to mock our culture and our race,” Fong said.

Fong called Limbaugh’s comments childish and ignorant. He said he sent Limbaugh a letter asking for an apology and has asked the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus to send one as well.

“We need that apology,” he said. “That behavior breeds racism. We need to show the people that listen to him that it is inappropriate.”

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) said in a Jan. 21 statement that “right-thinking Americans should be repelled by Limbaugh’s racial mockery, which resembles the behavior of a schoolyard bully.”

“… the actions of bullies must be challenged before they result in unwanted consequences,” the JACL continued.. “The JACL deplores Rush Limbaugh’s racial mockery and his unrepentant reaction to calls for an apology.”

On Jan. 26, Yee’s offices in San Francisco and Sacramento were sent what they deemed “a racist death threat” via fax. The faxes have been turned over to the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to investigate.

“The expletive-laden faxes contain graphics and language similar to messages Yee receive in April 2010 after he called for Sarah Palin’s speaking fee at California State University to be disclosed,” said a statement released by Yee’s office.

The fax read, in part: “Rush Limbaugh will kick your Chink ass and expose you for the fool you are.”

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