I Liked the 'Chinese Professor' Ad, but This Is Stupid and Offensive

Amodei and mother 1-1.jpg

(See update below.) Unlike many people, I admired the panache and artistry of the "Chinese Professor" ad used during last fall's campaign to warn about the self- destructive tendencies of America's borrow-and-spend era.

But the similar ad being run by Mark Amodei -- at right, with his mother -- a Republican candidate for Congress in Nevada's special election, is like a lobotomized version of the Chinese Professor. It loses the wit and holds onto only the xenophobia. You can judge for yourself, but the beauty part is his connection between "raising the debt limit" (which he promises never to do) and PLA troops goose-stepping across the plaza in front of the U.S. Capitol. It's tedious to have to point this out, but: refusal to raise the debt ceiling is the move most likely to touch off a panicky dumping of U.S. securities and increase doubt about America's status as a power that knows what it is doing.

Also, as anyone familiar with DC realizes, the only goose-stepping and heavily armed forces around the Capitol belong to the US Capitol Police Force. (No, no, just kidding -- since I'll have to be cleared by them again some day.)

Here's his ad. Watch and ponder. Then vote early and often! And as a benchmark, the original Chinese Professor ad is below it. For a previous stupid use of the Chinese menace, in this case by Democrats, see a Pennsylvania ad from 2010.

The Chinese Professor ad, which was actually filmed in northern Virginia with a cast mainly of Asian-American college students who didn't know what the ad's tone would be:

UPDATE: Bonus points for stupidity. As I should have mentioned the first time around, this ad, with the purported narration by the all-conquering Chinese empire, is written with "traditional" Chinese characters, which are used in Taiwan and some other places but not in mainland China. Ie, you would not see a screenshot like the one below on a "real" triumphalist broadcast out of Beijing. For instance, the logo below means "Empire News" (or "Imperial News"). But in a Beijing broadcast the two big characters on the right would be written as 国 and , not 國 and 聞. This is like having a mock BBC News programme read by someone with an accent out of Cheech & Chong. If I know this, a billion other people know it too. The ad producers couldn't find one of them to vet the ad?


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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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