This may be a post I will come to regret. By the time this is read, Bob Beckel may have retired from his gig holding down the liberal chair at Fox News.
If he does, Beckel will have been yet another casualty in what conservatives call 'political correctness' and what would more accurately be described as an obsession with language. On Thursday's episode of "The Five," the former Democratic strategist remarked (video, below; transcript, here)
Yes. I came across a story. I have said all along, as bad as Islamist terrorists are, as far as the threat to this country, the Chinese are the single biggest threat to national security of the United States. They have been; they will be. And they can wait. They're very patient. You know what they just did? As usual, we bring them over here, and we teach a bunch of Chinamen -- Chinese people how to do computers. They go back to China, and they hack into us, right?
The Chinese now have hacked into the Office of Management and Budget - - personnel management. And who do they go after? Everybody with a top security clearance. So China... (MAKES RUDE GESTURE)
The thrust of Beckel's remark was encapsulated in his opinion that the mainland Chinese "are the single biggest threat to national security of the United States. They have been, they will be." Respectively: no, yes, and only a psychic can know.
Back in the Cold War, it was- yes- politically correct on the part of the right and the mainstream media to consider Moscow the greatest threat to the national security of the U.S.A. All along, mainland China posed the greatest danger to the Free World, as the unforced dissolution of the Soviet Union and continued rise of Beijing have made clear to anyone who has, with cold objectivity, paid attention.
Currently, the greatest national security threat to the U.S.A. is Islamic terrorism, though that is not the inspiration for the concerns expressed by the individuals who are calling for Beckel's head. Taiwanese immigrant and state Senator Ted Lieu, a Democratic candidate for a U.S. House seat from California, referred to a previous offensive comment by Beckel and contended "We should all be alarmed by the racist, xenophobic comments by Fox News host Bob Beckel. His comments have no place in America, and this is at least the second time he has used racial slurs. He must resign immediately."
Representative Judy Chu is another California Democrat who has called on Beckel to resign. Identifying herself as "Chinese-American, Chu claimed "All we have to do is look to the fear mongering and hysteria of the 1980s that resulted in the murder of Vincent Chin by two white unemployed autoworkers to see how tragedy can occur when racism and xenophobia are tolerated."
Or perhaps the murder occurred because the death penalty in California had been suspended. Both Chu and I are jumping to unproven- and probably unwarranted- conclusions, though I am not doing it so publicly and do not hold a position of as great responsibility as congresswoman.
The most curious argument for Beckel's resignation, though, came from yet another U.S. Representative from The Golden State, Mike Honda, who argued the talk show co-host "has yet to apologize for these comments" and "as the founder of the Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus, I know that words hurt, and slurs are used to intimidate. "
There is little likelihood (or even, as soccer people would say, a "nil" chance) that the offensive words were meant to intimidate anyone. Up against the Chinese, Beckel is not the schoolyard bully. Additionally, the claim that he had not apologized for the recent statement, though technically true, is not only disingenuous but grotesquely misleading. Honda's fascination with an "apology" is quite bizarre given that the offender immediately corrected himself.
An "apology" surely would not be superior. Indeed, Beckel has now issued the standard "apology," one in which the speaker says he "apologizes" but does not admit wrongdoing. He stated Sunday
I made some comments last week about the Chinese people which apparently upset some people for which I apologize. However, my comments will not be, I don not apologize for some things I've said about China, and I won't go into the litany of it now because there's too many China apologists in this country, but I will continue to warn the American people how dangerous China is to the American people, the US security and to our business community and but those who were offended I apologize, I do not apologize to the Chinese government or for their habits or for their murders or anything else.
I would have preferred
I apologize for the remark I inadvertently made, and immediately corrected, last week.Although I promptly recognized my mistake, the term used offends many people, is considered derogatory by some, and therefore should not have been uttered. However, my larger point was over the threat posed by the Chinese government, one which some parties in the U.S.A. ignore, in some cases because they have a major financial interest in the continuation of a ruthless, dictatorial regime.
The truth may not set you free, and it may not save Bob Beckel's job, in whatever jeopardy it might be. But at least it would have been a genuine apology for a thoughtless (albeit immediately corrected) remark and there is some intrinsic value in the truth. Further, it would have been fascinating if Mr. Beckel's critics had been made to defend mainland China, which regime they are insufficiently uncomfortable with.