This could not wait for Saturday Night, because it is just way too bizarre an attempt to turn nothing into a charge of racism.
Short background: Pete Hoekstra, running for Senate from Michigan against Debbie Stabenow, ran a commercial in Michigan during the Super Bowl about jobs being shipped to China, and used a Chinese woman in the commercial in what was supposed to be a Chinese setting, speaking English with a Chinese accent.
Predictably, cries of racism arose. Whether you like the commercial or not, complaints about jobs being outsourced or shipped to China is a part of the rhetoric of both major political parties, and who exactly should have been featured in the ad?
If that were all there were, it would be routine. But today as proof of racist intent, the html code for the woman’s image was revealed to include the code “yellowgirl.”
It all started with Josh Marshall at TPM:
What’s the latest on the Pete Hoekstra “Chinese” ad that’s been generating all the controversy? A follower on Twitter points out that in the html code on Hoekstra’s site the woman in the ad is identified as “yellowgirl.” I checked and sure enough he’s right.
It seems from the context that they might be referring to the yellow shirt the “Chinese” woman is wearing. But probably just another level of the unfortunateness.
Horrors, according to James Fallows at The Atlantic, This Is So Classy: ‘Yellow Girl’:
Thanks to TPM for a tip to what you see if you examine the HTML code* of the Pete Hoekstra / Fred Davis “we take your jobs” video. The image of the “Chinese” girl in the video, who speaks American-accented English, is labelled as … well, see for yourself:
Now, in context, they could have been referring to the color of her shirt, as seen in the picture below. Perhaps. Although in that case “orange girl” is the term that might occur to most people. (As illustrated by comparison with the actually yellow lettering in front of her.)
Click to expand the image above and you will find that the HTML code for the ad labels the actress, “yellow girl.” Look, I’m sure this just unintentional racism and is actually a reference to the distinguishing yellow shirt she is wearing.
The Grand Rapids Press declared, Did Pete Hoekstra’s campaign use slur against its own Super Bowl ad actress?
But everyone, from Marshall on down ignored the full code line highlighted by TPM’s source which includes wording indicating the term “yellowgirl” was based on the color of her shirt, “yellow-shirt”:
I’m sure that cutting off the image to exclude the words “yellow-shirt” was just inadvertent.
And, sure enough, the web programmer has stated that “yellowgirl” was just an abbreviation of “yellowshirtgirl”. That’s it.
I suggest all Republican candidates, regardless of what you are running for, run a check of your webpages for racially insensitive html code People are watching.