Chinese Americans Picket ABC for Kill All Chinese Comment

The picketing of ABC offices and a petition for the White House site are among the responses of Chinese Americans upset by a segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live on which a child suggested killing everyone in China.

The Kimmel show that aired on October 16 contained an apparently scripted segment called The Kids Table. Kimmel was shown sitting around a table with primary-school-aged children. On the table are juice boxes emblazoned with the American flag.

“America owes China a lot of money, $1.3 trillion,” Kimmel said to the children. “How should we pay them back?”

“Kill everyone in China,” suggested a blond boy of about eight sitting next to an east Asian girl of a similar age.

“That’s an interesting idea,” said Kimmel, chuckling.

The skit was presumably meant to be funny and possibly to draw a comic parallel between the views of children and a xenophobic segment of American society. Many Chinese who saw the clip online posted on Sina Weibo to express outrage that even major US networks feel comfortable airing offensive views on China and Chinese. They drowned out the few voices who argued that the skit was meant to be ironic and humorous.

On October 19 a petition was launched on the White House site We the People, arguing, “The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred.” The petitions calls the skit “extremely distasteful” and compares it to “rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people.”

The White House promises a formal response to petitions that garner 100,000 signatures within 30 days. As of Monday morning it had logged about 60,000 signatures.

ABC issued an apology on October 25 in response to a letter of protest from 80-20 Initiative, a leading Asian American non-partisan political group.

“We’re writing to offer our sincere apology,” said the letter from Lisa Berger, the executive VP of ABC Entertainment who oversees Kimmel’s show, and Tim McNeal, vice president of ABC’s talent development and diversity branch. Adding, “We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large,” the letter pledged to remove the offensive remark from all media platforms and from any future airing of the show.

Unmollified, a number of Chinese visitors to organized a protest rally at noon local time on Monday, October 28, outside the ABC’s New York headquarters and its San Francisco offices.

This bit of TV humor of questionable taste would probably have produced far less outrage among Chinese and Chinese Americans but for the many instances of Chinese-bashing that have come out of the mouths of Americans far more advanced in age than the child in the Kimmel skit.