Lone Star Lunacy

Message to Texas: Y’all got a lot of nerve suggesting people of Asian descent should change their names to “something easier for Americans to deal with.”

U.S. Rep. Betty Brown came up with this idea while discussing the problems facing immigrants attempting to register to vote. “Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

Easy for someone named Brown to say. It probably sounds good in Athens, Texas. But in Queens, it may well be one of the dumbest suggestions we have heard coming from an elected official. Chinese names may be difficult for some and the use of Chinese characters sometimes adds to the confusion. But a host of names from other countries around the world are equally difficult.

In an attempt to defend herself, Brown dug the hole even deeper. “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

City Councilman John Liu joined Asian American leaders from all parts of the nation in condemning the proposal. In a letter to Brown, Liu said, “It is outrageous and insulting for you to suggest it would ‘behoove’ us to adopt another name, to give up our birthright and a part of our own identity, in order to exercise our right to vote …. I urge you to either issue a formal apology for your misguided comments or resign immediately.”

It was a dumb idea. At the same time, we think the councilman may be overreacting for the benefit of his constituents. Most people in Flushing have never heard of Brown before this and never will again. And Congress would not have touched this idea with 10−foot pole.

We see no reason why Brown should resign. In fact, we think Liu should invite her to Queens and take her out to eat in one of Flushing’s Chinese restaurants, where she could dine on foods with names they cannot pronounce in the cotton patches of Texas.

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