In Michigan, Going for Votes Using “China Scare”

The USA Super Bowl was played a few hours back (Congratulations Giants fans).  It was also a record day for Twitter. During Madonna’s half-time performance Twitter averaged 8,000 Tweets per second – and a high of 10,245 during one second of her performance. The close of the game saw a new world record of 12,233 Tweets per second. That’s a 300% increase on the game last year when an earlier record was set of 4,064 Tweets per second.

And those not keen on the sport still watched their televisions. Super Bowl is the time when major brands unveil groundbreaking advertisements. Smart Company offered a “first glimpse” into the big dollar ads.

In an election year, politicians used local advertising time on offer to insert their own ads. And one from Michigan is already causing a backlash.

Republican Pete Hoekstra is running for US Senate against incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. To showcase his conservative credentials, he purports to show a girl in rural China thanking his rival for her big dollar ways. Why it’s the American politicians who have made China rich! It’s politicians like Stabenow who sent jobs overseas. He even tags her Debbie “Spend It Now.”

But when you look at the ad you will understand the mounting controversy. Even the You Tube summary isn’t flattering:

Apparently, A democrat representative and a Chinese lady who speaks stereotypical broken “Engrish” are to blame for America’s money problems.

Local Detroit television reporter Rod Meloni says:

This ad…is completely out of character for Hoekstra.

Twitter users agree – this ad is called racist and stereotypical and insulting (see a sampling of the conversation below, or search Twitter for #Hoekstra). His own campaign has defended the ad saying it was meant to be “tongue in cheek.”

As an American who has traveled throughout China, I am not surprised by this turn of events. Xenophobia stirs passions. And the fear of “Red China” is alive and well in Middle America. What I can’t understand is this:

Where did Hoekstra find an untouched rice field and a young girl still willing to ride a bicycle in China?

Comments on Twitter about #Hoekstra

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