This week, Fox News’ Jesse Watters took a trip to New York City’s Chinatown and came away with a blockbuster report on how Asian stereotypes are extremely funny.
The ostensible point of Watters’s segment was to survey Chinese-Americans about Donald Trump and the state of Sino-American relations. But Watters quickly determined that both he and the O’Reilly Factor audience were less interested in the political views of Mott Street residents than they were in how Chinese-Americans would respond to a white man with a microphone reciting stereotypes about them.
“Am I supposed to bow to say hello?” Watters asks two bystanders. “Do you know karate?” he asks another. He demands to know if it’s “the Year of the Dragon,” and asks a young Chinese-American woman if “everything is made in China now.” When the woman says that everything is not made in China, he defies her to name one thing that is made outside of that country (U.S. manufacturing output is at near-record highs).
Each humorless interaction is punctuated by an obnoxious two-second movie clip. This pattern repeats for the longest four minutes of your entire life.
Which isn’t to say the segment has no value. Watters’s short film does help contextualize Donald Trump’s rise. The commentator’s “jokes” put Fox News’ viewers at a reassuring distance from the minority community onscreen. The gags are for “us,” and on “them.”
“Is China America’s friend or enemy?” Watters asks a Chinese-American woman.
“China and America? Of course are friends,” she replies.
“Can you guys take care of North Korea for us?” he asks.
It’s possible this woman disclosed that she was a Chinese citizen just visiting the city. But in the clip, she’s implicitly presented as a Chinese immigrant residing in Lower Manhattan. And yet Watters casts her as a representative of the Chinese government, not one of “us.”
Trump has often performed this rhetorical move, denying nonwhite Americans claim to his nationality. Judge Gonzalo Curiel was “a Mexican” because of where his parents were born. Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was an Afghan for similar reasons.
Only white people are real Americans. People with Chinese ancestry bow when they greet each other. Jesse Watters is funny. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
Such are the truths of Trump’s America.