UCLA Undergrad Heads Home, Tail Tucked Firmly Between Her Legs, After Racist Rant Goes Viral

A University of California, Los Angeles, student enraged Asians last week after posting a three-minute YouTube video that criticized Asian conduct in the library while referencing the Japanese tsunami, and people in the South Bay Area agreed that her comments were abhorrent.

In the video Alexandra Wallace, a third-year political science major (seriously you vapid whench? you’re the last person who needs to be involved in politics), ranted about Asians talking on their cellphones in the library during finals week.

Wallace shared her version of the Asian language (including several ching chongs and ling longs), urged Asians who come to UCLA to first adopt “American manners,” and for good measure even managed to work in a distasteful reference to the tsunami in Japan.

The video went viral. Its contents and the reaction it generated made it all the way to the pages of the New York Times. In a previous era, it would have taken Alexandra Wallace several lifetimes to even encounter as many Asian students as she managed to offend in just under three minutes.

Wallace’s tsunami comment left Ben Pacho, 25, a second-year journalism major at De Anza College, scratching his head.

“For people tuning in, institutional racism still exists. I was speechless—I had no words. Her cultural insensitivity was staggering,” said Pacho, adding with sarcasm, “I thought, UCLA must be really proud to have her as a student.”

The college junior, who announced after the worldwide furor that she was leaving the college (twenty bucks says she ends up working for Fox News by the end of the month), also said the “hordes of Asian people” attending UCLA lack American manners, because their parents do not teach them any.

Second-year De Anza hospitality and events management major Marianna Rivera, 34, said Wallace had a valid point about people turning off their cellphones in the library, but the way Wallace expressed it against one group was unacceptable.

“I could understand how someone could be irritated by someone talking on the cellphone, but she does not realize the severity of what she did,” Rivera said. “She’s getting a world-class education, but she has no sense of what she did. It’s counter to what an educated person ought to know.”

In her video, Wallace also mimicked a generic Asian language by mimicking a stereotypical “ching-chong,” pseudo-Asian language while holding her phone to her ear. Coming under similar scrutiny and criticism, Rush Limbaugh did much the same in January on his radio show when he mimicked Chinese President Hu Jintao’s speech.

Go figure, that fat fuckin’ piece of shit is on the wrong side of the racist fence.

As an Asian male, John Tran, a Santa Clara County resident and consultant, was offended by Wallace’s imitation speech and even had a punishment for her.

“She should be expelled from school for her own safety and stupidity,” Tran said.

The video has spurred notoriety, with one copy of the video reaching more than 5 million hits. Many Asians and non-Asians voiced their displeasure on blogs, even creating YouTube video responses of their own (we’ll get to that later!).

Sondra Morishima, who writes for a Tumblr website called Generasian, was displeased that racial stereotypes are still alive and well.

“In my mind, it’s nothing more than a grating reiteration of the same stereotypes that have been passed around for years,” Morishima wrote on the Tumblr site. “They’ve become so internalized that they show up everywhere—from policy to talk show hosts to viral YouTube videos.

“It’s easy to call this woman out on her bigotry, because it’s so obvious, but we also need to look at less obvious cues that these ideas persist and how they harm the Asian-American community.”

Steve Peterson, a social networking instructor at UCLA, explained that Wallace’s video had all the makings of a viral video and that posting it toward media-competent college students contributed to the video’s infectious spread.

“Wallace conformed to the stereotype of the ditzy, bleached-blond Californian college girl, which is salient in and of itself,” Peterson said. “Then you add racism, insensitivity to the Japanese tragedies, the ‘ching-chong’ ethnic slur, and … racial and cultural ignorance [and] social media ignorance.”

UCLA Associate Vice Chancellor Robert Naples said that the comments expressed in Wallace’s video was “beyond distasteful” and is in no way a representation of UCLA’s beliefs.

“We’ll be taking a look at the language that she uses in the video to see if it violates any codes under the student code, perhaps regarding harassment,” Naples said to the Daily Bruin.

University spokesman Phil Hampton called the video “repugnant” and agrees with Naples that Wallace’s video is in no way indicative of UCLA’s view.

“The comments on there are contrary to the values the university believes in,” Hampton told the college paper.

Keith Fink, a UCLA professor who teaches several free speech courses, including Free Speech on Campus, and a discrimination lawyer at the Los Angeles-based law firm Fink & Steinberg, advocates Wallace’s First Amendment rights.

According to Fink, Wallace’s short rant does not meet the severe or pervasive test set forth by preceding cases, nor does it meet UCLA‘s policy on harassment, which was adopted based on the Davis case.

Tyler Dimich, a fourth-year communications major at UCLA who is from Milpitas, agrees that the law is on Wallace’s side, no matter how distasteful her comments were.

“The essence of the First Amendment is to protect speech even when it is distasteful to the vast majority of people,” Dimich said. “She certainly had the right to say what she said, but that doesn’t make what she said right.”

The Daily Bruin also reported that Wallace received complaints and death threats from people all over the country, which left Dimich uneasy.

“To bring violence in personal opinion is invariably too far,” Dimich said.

Dimich, 21, said he feels remorseful for Wallace, but his initial reaction was that she should have put more thought into her rant.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Wow, this student ruined her life in 2:52,’” Dimich said. “If you are going to utilize your right to free speech in that manner, then people can and will utilize their rights to chastise you.”

That last part is the one that people so often seem to miss when talking about the First Amendment.

It only protects you from sanctions by the government when you exercise your right to “say what you want”.  It literally guarantees you that you are free to speak your mind without having to worry about “Big Brother” coming to lock you up for having done so.

It affords you ZERO protection from your peers or society at large.  If you say it, you had damn sure better be ready to take the heat that comes your way for having done so.

I’m sure Wallace regrets posting that YouTube video — and will likely continue to suffer the repercussions thanks to the web’s reach and permanence. But the ease with which it was produced and the pace at which it went viral is another indicator of just how easy it is to spread hate in the Internet age.

Tomorrow’s kids — in addition to facing the usual natural disasters that come with adolescence — will be confronted with the multichannel, always-on, upsettingly viral slings and arrows of bullies. Although Alexandra Wallace is a far cry from the worst of bullies, the whole incident left me feeling pretty damn depressed about the future.

But then I saw Jimmy Wong.

Jimmy Wong reminded me that the tools that can be deployed by the so-called cyberbullies are also freely available to those they harass. Wong, a 24 year-old singer, and up-and-coming YouTube sensation, wrote and recorded The Asians in the Library Song in response to Alexandra Wallace’s video. Here’s part of the chorus:

I pick up my phone and sing…
Ching Chong, it means I love you
Ling Long, I really want you
Ting Tong, I don’t actually know what that means

The lyrics are hilarious and pure-spirited ( I REALLY recommend you click that link and watch the video…the lyrics are wonderfully sarcastic), effectively turning the tables on the ditzy dame’s original rant. The ditty itself has a catchy hook, has been viewed over two million times, and is now for sale on iTunes.

When I was a kid, here’s one thing I never in a million years would have thought of saying to a bully who was about to pummel me:

“Hey, don’t mess with me. I’ve got a quirky sense of humor, a razor sharp wit, a great singing voice, and damn it I know how to write html code!”

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