Last Thursday on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News personality and reporter Bill O’Reilly , did a segment on some of the fiscal and social issues facing Hawaii. As a vacation destination, O’Reilly is a big fan of Hawaii, but not a fan of the state’s liberalism, and is perplexed by some of Hawaii’s challenges by stating:
“35 percent of the Hawaiian population is Asian. Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They’re usually more industrious and hard-working.”
First of all, making any blanket statement about any racial or ethnic group is considered a stereotype or racist- some example like all Asians are good at math and computers, Jews are good at making and managing money, African Americans men are well endowed, etc… And I am sure all of us at one point, including myself, have mistakenly made blanket statements while arguing or defending a point or position (In my case, probably comments regarding The Tea Party movement).
Politically, I don’t think any racial or ethnic group is by default liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, by nature. And I’m pretty sure there has been any conclusive scientific evidence to date that one’s political persuasion is genetic and set at birth. Our values and political beliefs are generally formed and influenced by our environment – by our parents, religion, community, etc.
Additionally, I think that you can have both industrious and hardworking conservatives and liberals, as well as lazy and stupid ones – same with Asian Americans and whites. Of course, the conservative line of thinking regarding liberals or Democrats is that they are lazy, freeloaders who are dependent on the government (tell that to all the techies and entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area / Silicon Valley …)
Now, it’s been widely reported and known that from the 2012 exit polling in November, 73% of Asian Americans voted to re-elect President Obama. So O’Reilly is trying to understand the cognitive dissonance of his mental model of liberal yet industrious and hard-working Asian Americans. But to put it simply, O’Reilly is simple-minded.
While channel surfing, I caught the tail end of MSNBC’s The Ed Show and caught George Takei (an Obama supporter) give his perspective on O’Reilly’s simple mindedness. The Ed Show included a brief montage of O’Reilly’s past racist or stereotypical comments. Takei provides his personal experience of being interned and facing racism after being released from prison camps after the end of World War II:
U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI) had her own comments to add to O’Reilly’s statements:
“However, I think O’Reilly’s attempt to characterize Hawaii’s Asian-American population is most insulting of all. Claiming that Asian-Americans are not liberal by nature because they are ‘hard working and industrious’ is the kind of one dimensional and paternalistic attitude that we should have gotten past decades ago. Hawaii’s—and America’s—Asian-American communities are as rich and diverse as any in our nation. Attributing any broad set of characteristics to any large group only serves to encourage attitudes that ‘they’ are somehow different from ‘us.’
“Finally, there is absolutely no justification for O’Reilly’s claim that being ‘hard working and industrious’ is in any way incompatible with holding liberal political views. Hawaii is the ‘bluest’ state in America, and it has been built through the hard work of generations of people of all persuasions. Those who have succeeded through their own efforts do not turn their backs on those who continue to find themselves in need. We maintain our commitments to our seniors. We focus on ensuring that our children have access to educational opportunities. And we are industrious for the sake of our communities, not just for personal gain.
“Bill O’Reilly owes Hawaii and all Asian-Americans an apology. And the next time he visits our state, I encourage him to spend more time getting to know real people, and less time sitting next to the pool and grousing about what he thinks is going on ‘out there.'”
Funny how conservatives like O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh (who apparently *loves* San Francisco) vacation in bluest states and cities.