Jay Leno Admits That Telling Racist Jokes About Asians for Decades Was Maybe a Bad Idea

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There has been a marked increase in racist and violent incidents targeting Asians over the past year. While all racism is misguided, illogical and stupid, this recent spate of racism towards Asians really takes the cake for just being entirely irrational.

Basically, the people who don’t think that COVID-19 is a big deal and that masks and vaccines are a pedophile conspiracy are also very mad at Asian people for creating the deadly virus that’s caused a global pandemic.

Now, it does seem likely that the current strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated in China, but it’s not like that is in any way the fault of the Chinese people. China’s response to the outbreaks took the threat much, much more seriously than places like the US and the UK did, and it was the lack of bold action by Western governments to control the situation that likely lead to the virus spreading as widely as it has and the development of more serious variants.

It has been convenient for leaders like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson to pass their failings as leaders off on the Chinese government, which is notoriously secretive and currently engaged in genocide. But you would think that anyone who lives in a country that elected someone like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson or Emmanuel Macron would realize that a bad government doesn’t mean that the citizens are bad.

Racism against Asians is nothing new, though, and we as a society have basically been ignoring it and letting it slide for years.

Case in point, Variety reports that former Tonight Show host Jay Leno apologized to Media Action Network for Asian Americans for the decades worth of racist jokes he’s told at the expense of Asians.

And just so we’re clear, Leno wasn’t doing something like Sarah Silverman or Stephen Colbert where he was subversively using racist tropes to point out the way that we as a society accept this sort of racism in a way that some modern audiences frown on, Leno was just going “haha, Asian people eat dogs” as recently as 2020.

The thing is… Jay Leno used to be funny. Comedian and political commentator Jimmy Dore has said a few times “I hate Barack Obama for the same reason I hate Jay Leno: he was my hero and he broke my heart.”

I get it, Leno has it in him to be a really funny comic. He could have been remembered as one of the greats like Carlin, but instead he’ll be remembered as hacky, lazy and kind of racist. That was his choice, and he admits it.

Should have taken his own advice.

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki. “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

Leno continued, “At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.”

In light of that, Leno said, “I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”

I mean, it’s not nothing. At least he realizes that he should say something. It’s never too late to do better.

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3 years ago

James you need to get your China facts straight. People with your job seem to forget the freedoms the USA affords you, when spewing your love for such a despicable Dictatorial society. Jay leno should not be your target here.