By Shirley N Lew
AsAmNews New York Correspondent
When a tweet from The Wall Street Journal late Sunday included a racial slur toward Asians and a photo of China’s General Secretary Xi Jinping, it looked pretty bad. WSJ later removed the tweet with an explanation that was not acceptable to many twitter followers.
As of now, still no apology from WSJ.
@WSJ You’re digging a deeper hole by saying, “because a ‘common idiom’ used might be seen as a slur.” Its not a common idiom; it IS a slur.
— Patty Potter Ewald (@PPotterEwald) August 31, 2015
@WSJ this explanation is as bad as your racial slur – you speak as if this is no big deal. WSJ you need come up with something better
— Jean Cheng (@jeaniust) August 31, 2015
Although “chink in the armor” is considered a common idiom, it simply hasn’t been used in the original context in a very long time because the “c” word is derogatory.
Emil Guillermo, award winning journalist an activist tells AsAmNews: “I’m surprised that WSJ’s copy desk isn’t more sophisticated enough to stop that kind of slur. Is it really such a common idiom? When was the last time you saw anyone in a suit of armor with a blemish? Even if it were more common, the coincidence of using it to describe a situation involving an Asian person (let alone the Chinese General Secretary) compounds the problem. The writer was too clever by half. And now WSJ should suspend or fire the writer and go back and revise its “Style Book,” under cliches we can no longer use without care.”
He added that the paper should issue an apology.
Some tweeters supported WSJ:
@WSJ This sounds like WSJ is kowtowing to an authoritarian regime… disappointing.
— Vic Livingston (@scrivener50) August 31, 2015
— Antranik Garabedian (@antranik_rn) August 31, 2015
This latest incident reminds us of the ESPN editor Anthony Federico. Three years ago he used the same expression on Jeremy Lin. It caused a huge uproar even though Federico said it was an honest mistake, he was fired.
“I am appalled that a respectable publication like the Wall Street Journal would use the offensive term ‘chink in [the] armor’ to refer to Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Rep Judy Chu (D-CA), chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The ‘c’ word is to Asian Americans what the ‘n’ word is to African Americans, and the use of this racial slur is deeply troubling. This word was used in the 1880s to demean Chinese Americans and is still used today as a slur to degrade and humiliate Asian Americans.
“Although the WSJ has since removed the tweet, I still find it disturbing that the slur was used in the first place. I urge the WSJ and other publications to ensure that such racially insensitive sentiments are not tolerated within their organizations.”
Ron Wong, president of Imprenta Communications Group in CA gave his reaction to AsAmNews.
“This hurtful racial slur has no place in the American vernacular. A premier publication like the Wall Street Journal, which regularly covers both Asian Americans and Asian markets, should know better than to use such offensive language. ”
Another reaction came late today from Media Watch Committee of the Asian American Journalists Association.
“Once again, we at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) find ourselves confronting an episode of a major U.S. news organization using a variation of “chink in the armor” in a way that could be taken with offense,” Media Watch said in a statement.
“The Wall Street Journal, referencing the potential vulnerability of Chinese President Xi Jinping, paired his name and photo in a tweet with the common idiom. As AAJA has repeatedly cautioned, this is a phrase that should be retired. Despite the words’ original non-racial connotation, when used in conjunction with topics involving Asia and/or Asian Americans, it can call to mind a hurtful slur.
“The tweet, since deleted from @WSJ’s stream, was explained with: “No offense was intended.” We acknowledge that the Journal recognized its error.”
Whether WSJ apologizes or not remains to be unseen at this moment.
Share your thoughts with us here and with @shirleycnj.
(This post has been corrected to attribute the AAJA quote to its Media Watch Committee and to correct Federico’s former position with ESPN)