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Is the Trump campaign ad of Biden in China racist?

New York Times pounces on millisecond clip of Biden with then-ambassador to China Gary Locke

April 10, 2020

2:29 PM

10 April 2020

2:29 PM

Political ‘attack ads’ are nasty — that’s kind of the point. Yet Cockburn was shocked to read, in the New York Times no less, that those dastardly Republicans had gone too far again. They’ve gone and been raaaacist in their latest 2020 video about Joe Biden. Read all about it:

‘A new attack ad by President Trump’s re-election campaign portraying former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as soft on China includes an image of an Asian-American former governor of Washington State that appears to falsely suggest he is Chinese,’ reports a breathless Annie Karni. ‘The image, which appears briefly, was pulled from a 2013 event in Beijing, where Mr Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, shared a stage with Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington, who also served as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary and ambassador to China. Mr Locke is Chinese-American.’

Go Annie! Slay the bigots! The Washington Post and the Independent doubled down, too, with very similar versions of the same story. Andrew Yang, who is meant to be intelligent and fair-minded, also weighed in: ‘Goddamn this shit is infuriating,’ he tweeted, bristling with his own indignation. ‘Gary Locke is as American as the day is long. Trump rewriting history as if he effectively responded to the virus is utter garbage. We lost 70 days and thousands of lives due to his incompetence and disregard for what was happening overseas.’

Out of a sense of journalistic duty, Cockburn bravely decided to watch the offending video. You can see it for yourself here:

Did you miss it? Cockburn doesn’t blame you — the ‘xenophobic’ image appears for about a millisecond roughly 40 seconds into the video. Perhaps we are being subliminally conditioned to think that Locke must be a wicked Fu Manchu. Or perhaps the image was used because there are China flags in the background and it speaks to Biden’s relations with Beijing, which are shady by any standards. As Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign spokesman, told The Spectator: ‘Before and during the coronavirus crisis, Joe Biden stood up for China, dismissed them as an economic threat, and opposed President Trump’s China travel restrictions.

‘The shot Biden’s campaign is complaining about is relevant because it’s Joe Biden standing in front of Chinese flags during his 2013 trip to Beijing — the trip where Hunter accompanied him and met with Chinese business partners. It’s immaterial who else is in the shot with Biden.

‘It’s understandable that Joe Biden doesn’t want anyone talking about China throwing money at Hunter Biden while his father was vice president.’

Well, quite. But something baffles Cockburn about this eagerness of journalists and Andrew Yang to interpret the use of that image — again, for a fraction of a second — as a racist slur, when it isn’t. He can’t help but wonder: don’t you have to be a little paranoid, even prejudiced to think that way?

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