It appears that M.I.A.'s middle finger wasn't the most offensive thing to happen during Sunday night's Super Bowl. During a Super Bowl where the ads failed to impress (for the most part), one regional commercial is sparking claims of blatant racism.
The political ad, put out by the campaign of Michigan's Pete Hoekstra, aims to use the issue of government spending to swipe at his opponent - not an uncommon topic for a campaign ad in today's political climate. But it's the way in which he's presenting the message that has spurred the controversy.
Pete Hoekstra, a Republican, is a former Michigan Congressman who is running for the GOP Senate nomination. His would-be opponent is Democrat Debbie Stabenow, a two-term incumbent. Hoekstra's Super Bowl ad, which only ran in Michigan, features an Asian woman, strings of broken English, rice fields, and the message that Senator Stabenow's practices are helping China grow, while hurting Americans.
Check it out below:
Hoekstra labels Senator Stabenow "DebbieSpendItNow," and you can see from the commercial why some folks find it a bit over the line: "Thank you, Michigan Senator Debbie SpendItNow. Debbie spends so much American money. You borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie SpendItNow."
The backlash has been pretty severe. The LA Times quotes the Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote group as saying:
[We're} deeply disappointed. [It] plays on harmful stereotypes of Asians speaking broken English and has stereotypical Chinese music playing in the background. It is very disturbing that Mr. Hoekstra’s campaign chose to use harmful and negative stereotypes that intrinsically encourage anti-Asian sentiment.
Michigan politicians have called the ad "shameful" and said that his tactics are "ignorant and bigoted."
And even some GOP colleagues are calling Hoekstra out for the ad. A Michigan GOP consultant said "Stabenow has got to go. But shame on Pete Hoekstra for that appalling new advertisement. Racism and xenophobia aren’t any way to get things done."
And Mike Murphy had this to say:
Pete Hoekstra Superbowl TV ad in MI Senate race really, really dumb. I mean really.
But Hoekstra isn't backing down, in the slightest.
We knew we were taking an aggressive approach on this. But this is a time where the people in Michigan and across the country are fed up with the spending, and we wanted to capture that frustration that they had with Washington, D.C.,” he said. “This ad … hits Debbie smack dab between the eyes on the issue where she is vulnerable with the voters of Michigan, and that is spending
And on Twitter:
Maddow promoting ad on her website. She doesn't like it because it hits Ds where it hurts - spending!
He's also still standing behind this donation website (debbiespenditnow.com):
What do you guys think? Is the campaign ad fair play? Or is it racist and way over the line? Let us know in the comments.