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Racist “yellowgirl” html code?

Racist “yellowgirl” html code?

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.)
Gawker, using the same snippet of code, proclaimed, Pete Hoekstra’s Racist Campaign Ad Getting Even Racist-er:

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.


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Unreal. It’s completely mind boggling.

“yellowgirl” refers to the CSS code (text color, text size, etc), it’s not necessarily the name of the photo.

The programmer merely named the CCS class “yellowgirl”, probably because of the text color ovelay on the girl’s picture.

Did these people also listen to Beatles albums backwards looking for hidden messages? I think they need real jobs.

As having been a programmer for 12+ years, I can attest that the the intention of the coder was not her asian heritage. Programmers are not so subtle. It would say AsianGirl as the class name instead of yellow. Programmers almost instictively pick out the plainest and distinctive attributes when embedding “metadata” . The reason for this is simple, If you constantly embed racial epithats on the mere sight of a minority, you will quickly run out of unique and distinctive names and programmers being lazy creatures, don’t like being unnecessarily creative. Really there isn’t enough distinctive racial slurs you can up with for asset naming. Would cause too much problems in other parts of the code base.

BannedbytheGuardian | February 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

These massive publicity shock ads have their downside.

The Dannon greek yoghurt ad was outsourced to a ‘creative genius’ team of 21 years olds from Chicago.

These idiots not only thought domestic violence funny but directly ripped off music without permission .

The tune is note for note ,beat for beat “Zebra’ by The John Butler Trio. Ironically JBT are a very successful ‘underground’ /non big label act with a very distinctive sound. These young advertizing gurus just did not have the IQ to realise hey – maybe someone actually owns that tune running around in my head.

The band released a statement that there was no permission given . The fact that the song is now equated with a petulant stupid violent person is about to multiply the damages.

Not a good advertisment for American advertising at all.

Apparently it was not just crypto-racism but crypto-sexism as well:

“…they referred to her as “girl” when she’s clearly an adult woman (#Sexism Side Note)”

Last election’s self-styled ‘Obama Girl’ was not available for comment.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | February 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Juan Williams will have the definitive last word about whether the programmer intended the code to have a hidden racists meaning.

Can liberals drive themselve any more insane with their racial obsessions?

When the choice is to take a thing as racist or not to take a thing as racist, in this case the term yellow, should we not question what drives an individual to choose racism as an explanation rather than, as in this case, dress color?

When the greater influence in the lives of some when hearing term “yellow” leads them to think dress color, while when hearing the same term the greater influence in the lives of other’s leads them to think skin color, then does that not say more of the racism of those who make the charge?

James Fallows? James Fallows? !!!!

Professor, if you have the time, you might want to ask Mr. Fallows (through Twitter?) if he remembers saying the following:

He was a correspondent living in Japan in the 1980s.

I was living there, too, at the same time and had read some of his stuff … I knew who he was.

So I was a bit shocked reading an interview he gave (for which Japanese publication I can’t remember) where he said (as close as I can remember … at least 90% word for word)

” … that’s a complete oxymoron, like ‘Korean politeness.'”

Now, I can imagine a drunken Japanese old-timer saying something like this (I’ve heard Koreans referred to as the “Jews of the East” … by old Japanese geezers and it’s not meant as a compliment … instead employing the usual negative stereotypes of Jews)

… but to hear a journalist say something like this on the record in an interview … and to see it in print!!!

It might have been one of the minor papers catering to English-speaking foreigners that I used to glance at … I just can’t remember in what publication I read it.

But I did read it! I was really surprised someone in his position could say something so stupid. It’s out there for somebody to find. I wish now I’d kept a copy.

Old-style Japanese homes are fragile, but glass houses ….

LukeHandCool (who was sleepy and trying to read on the couch a few days ago when his wife kept asking him about the “Indiana Police.” After his reading was interrupted two or three times, he finally snapped, “What?! Indiana Police? What are you talking about? Where is it? You mean the state police? In Indiana, of course!!!” Irritated that Luke was irritated, she shot back, “What are YOU talking about?! Police??!!” Turns out she wanted to know where Indianapolis, site of the super bowl, was. Welcome to my world. But, at least this anti-PC Japanese girl would tell Mr. Marshall and Mr. Fallows to grow up and get a rife!!)

Boy, I’m sure glad that we elected a President who could lead us to a post-racial future! /sarcasm

I knew this ad was going to be trouble the minute I saw it. The looney left see racism under every rock, but we shouldn’t make it easy for them. At least if it had been a good ad, it would have been worth the grief. There are a lot better ways to present this type of message. My advice: Fire whoever dreamed this one up, they just aren’t that good at creating an effective ad.

    LukeHandCool in reply to Say_What. | February 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    “The looney left see racism under every rock,”

    They are very interested in racist rocks, themselves. Just ask Governor Perry.

Raquel Pinkbullet | February 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Well what else is new? If this isn’t proof positive that liberals are the real racists I don’t know what is.

DINORightMarie | February 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Only in Ameritopia can this type of stuff go on and be considered acceptable – or rational.

And that Juan Williams is the “official” master/keeper of the amorphous race code – incredible!

Anything to silence conservatives. ANYTHING.

Wow. Just wow.

Now I have to wonder about whether or not my custom CSS IDs and classes would survive the review for “racist” undertones.

This is just pathetic.

Now we know how to get Democrats to read stuff. Hide it in some html and we might get them to read their own legislation.

This istuf is just a distraction. They want us to forget the message of the add and focus on the outrage of racial slurs instead. This is what they will do all through the general elction. Goodness knows obama has nothing else to run on.

    1. You nailed it.

    If they keep us walking on eggshells regarding our choice of words, they’ve scammed us out of the moral high ground.

    2. Look at the Left defending that woman against racism and sexism—while pushing policies (to “help” Chinese workers, of course) that will keep her and her nation in poverty.

    3. OT: That’s not to say the Chinese are pure as the driven snow. Of course not, to say the least. But if they’re kept stifled in poverty, they will eventually assert themselves in a way that will do no one on earth any good.

I wonder what they think about Hispanic advocacy businesses “encouraging” Americans to speak Spanish. They should be thrilled that their message has gone mainstream. They should be horrified that the utility of language has been misunderstood and corrupted.

Minor correction: Pete Hoekstra, running for US SENATE in Michigan against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Rick Snyder, an R, was elected governor of MI in 2010.