Rush Limbaugh criticism attracts hate mail for Grace Meng

Rush Limbaugh criticism attracts hate mail for Grace Meng
Rush Limbaugh’s mocking of the Chinese language during a recent speech made by Chinese President Hu Jintao has stirred a backlash among Asian-American lawmakers at the state level in California and New York, including Flushing Assemblywoman Grace Meng. AP Photo/Rob Carr, File
By Connor Adams Sheets

An angry outburst at state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) over her repeated request that controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh apologize for his impersonation of Chinese President Hu Jintao seems to be ebbing after she received no phone calls and few racially charged e-mails from the talk show’s  supporters over the weekend, according to Meng spokeswoman Linda Sun.

But she and City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) want to keep up the pressure on Limbaugh to take back his comments, and Koo gave Meng his backing over the weekend, offering to participate in a joint event calling the shock jock to task for offending the Chinese-American community.

Meng’s office has been inundated with more than 50 hateful and racist phone calls and e-mails since she publicly criticized Limbaugh for mocking the way Jintao speaks during a segment of his radio show Jan. 19.

On Thursday and Friday alone, Meng received about 30 calls and e-mails from people across the United States, some of whom used anti-Chinese slurs and profanity when lambasting Meng for asking that Limbaugh apologize for performing what she described as a racially insensitive impression of the Chinese leader.

On his radio show Jan. 19, Limbaugh lamented that a speech Hu gave during a recent visit to the White House was  not translated as he listened to it on television.

“Hu Jintao, he was speaking and they weren’t translating and they normally have some translator every couple of words, but Hu Jintao was just going ‘Ching chong. Ching chong, chong chong!’” he said during the show, proceeding to spend more than 15 seconds mocking and imitating Hu’s accent. The AP reported that on the following day he addressed his remarks but did not make an apology.

“We’ve been getting e-mails and phone calls from all over the country. People telling us to go back to our country and that Asians work for them and if we don’t like it we can go back to our country,” Meng’s spokeswoman said Friday afternoon. “The majority of the phone calls have been from outside of [New York], people yelling at us. People have said to us that we’re defending China or China’s policy. That’s not our intention. We’re just standing up for all our fellow Chinese Americans.”

Meng is the only Asian American in the state Legislature.

An Associated Press story quoting Meng  and headlined “Asian-American Lawmakers Demand Limbaugh Apology” was listed as the most-e-mailed article on Yahoo! News Friday afternoon. In the AP article, Meng was joined by California state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) in calling for a Limbaugh apology.

Sun said Yee, who was more prominently featured in the AP piece than Meng, has received some of the most offensive calls and e-mails. His office has released a fax Yee received Jan. 26 that read “Death to Marxists!” and “Fish Head Leeland” accompanied by a drawing of a noose around President Barack Obama’s disembodied head being dragged by a pick-up truck bearing an American flag. Yee’s office forwarded the fax to the California state Senate sergeant-at-arms.

Dave Backer, a Guilford, Ill., man who owns two companies that deal with various aspects of the radon industry, sent an e-mail to Meng after seeing the AP article on his Yahoo! News home page. He said in a phone interview Friday that Meng should apologize to her constituents for wasting taxpayer money and time by asking for an apology.

“Rush does not owe you or anyone else an apology. How about instead of thrying [sic] to grab headlines with crap you get out and actually do your job which is helping Americans. Yeah did you forget we still live in this country and you work for us,” Backer’s e-mail read. “Anyone who is Asian and has such thin skin when they are in our country should leave. So here is a suggestion for you. Either get a little thicker skin or take your ass back to where it is you came from. Back to your ancestry that you think we are picking on. Ching chong,chang!”

Meng has stood by her comments despite the conservative backlash, saying in a follow-up statement that she still wants an apology from Limbaugh.

“I still stand fervently by my statement. I want to clarify that while any private citizen is free to say anything they want, I do not believe it is appropriate for anyone, especially a person with national recognition, to imitate the manner in which a group of people talks,” she said. “As someone who is proud to have been born in America and to be an American, I was often saddened and hurt as a child when people made fun of the way I looked or the accent they automatically assumed I had.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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