Multicultural Enforcement In The Workplace By Playing Dumb
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Via Lifehacker, I see that the Race in the Workplace weblog has a thing about how to handle racist jokes at work, because if you just laugh at them, you're just as guilty.[How to respond to a racist jokeby Carmen Van Kerckhove (Google Cache Version—their server is down.) ] Need I say that this is not a major problem around the breakroom at

I did a previous post about the ritual shunning behavior expected of New York liberals to any remark that offends the conventional wisdom on race, [What You Can Expect When You're Winning An Argument In NYC]

Anyhow, the recommended strategy if you hear a racist joke is apparently to act really stupid.

Co-worker: Did you hear that Angelina Jolie adopted another kid, this time from Vietnam?

You: Oh really?

Co-worker: Yeah. The poor kid probably doesn’t even know he’s Asian yet. He certainly doesn’t know he’s going to be a horrible driver. Or that he’s going to be amazing at doing nails. He has no idea! [Laughs heartily.]

You: [Look perplexed.] Sorry, I don’t get it.

Co-worker: What do you mean?

You: I guess I’m missing something. Why is that funny?

Co-worker: [Looks embarrassed.] Um, well you know how people say that Asians are bad drivers. And a lot of people who work at nail salons are Asian.

You: But those are just stereotypes, aren’t they?

Co-worker: Well, all stereotypes have some truth to them.

You: So you actually believe that all Asians are bad drivers and are good at doing nails?

Co-worker: No, no, it’s just—Never mind.


Neither of the actors in this dialogue sounds very bright, or very funny. One commenter on Lifehacker said that "People will think you're stupid or you've slept under a rock for the past fifty years if you don't know some common stereotypes. Is that the image you want to get across to your coworkers? "

Then there's a massive amount of denial in the Virtuous Worker asking "So you actually believe that all Asians are bad drivers and are good at doing nails?"

No, no one believe that stereotypes apply to all members of a class. There are people who believe that they've disproved stereotypes about average height, by pointing to NBA star Yao Ming,(7' 5") or Sammy Davis Jr. (5'3"). In any event, the stereotype about average Asian driving skills is apparently a true one, according to members of the Asian-American community.

And as for the total dominance of the burgeoning manicure industry by Asians, well, that's a true stereotype, too. According to Virginia Postrel, writing in 1997, there were three journals published by the manicure industry in America. One of them was published in Vietnamese.

It came in the 1980s, as Southern California's large community of Vietnamese immigrants discovered the business. From 1984 to 1989, the number of licensed nail techs in Los Angeles County jumped from 9,755 to 15,238, about 80 percent of whom were Vietnamese-born. Over the next decade, their salons spread from California across the country. The new entries, says Nails Editor Cyndy Drummey, "made the prices much, much cheaper and made what used to be luxuries more-affordable luxuries....It's like the electronics industry." [Reason Magazine - The Nail File, 1997]
But the real "punchline" of this morality play about the two stupid people, one trying to tell a joke, and the other trying not to understand it, is that it's based on a real joke told by Chelsea Handler on Jay Leno. There was a link to Chelsea Handler and Robin Williams Making Anti-Asian Jokes on, which is the website of a "loud and proud Asian American woman." She had a link to Fallout Central, an Asian-American paranoid site, [Editorial: Taking Cheap Shots at Asian Americans is Comedy Gold!] which provided me finally with some idea of what they were talking about.

You can watch Chelsea Handler, Robin Williams, and Jay Leno by clicking on this 7 megabyte MP4 link. She is being extremely funny at the expense, not of Asians in general, but of Angelina Jolie, who recently adopted three-year old Pham Quang Sang from a Vietnamese orphanage, and immediately changed his name to Pax Thien Jolie.

What Ms. Handler is really talking about it a small child being disconnected from his heritage, which you would think the Asian activists would sympathize with, but they're so fantastically sensitive that they're now starting an anti-Chelsea Handler campaign. In Muliculturalstan, you can't win.

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