On Friday March 11, 2011 Alexandra Wallace posted found on the left (the original video has been taken down; this is a copy of the original). Two days later, the video has gone viral, making local headlines, and interestingly enough, so have some responses like this one. Gene Block, Chancellor of UCLA, released a statement regarding Wallace’s video. The school has not yet determined a course of action. Wallace has issued an apology through school school newspaper, The Daily Bruin, stating “I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.”
This entry will be part one of a multi-part series. This first two entries will look at how others have responded to Wallace’s video, and how an American evangelical Christian of East Asian heritage can and should offer a different response in light of them. The third entry will analyze Wallace’s views to unpack the implicit messages and their sociological significance.
Wallace’s video has been described as offensive, hurtful, racist, and not accurately representing “Asian” Americans. Use of the quotation marks will be explained in the upcoming entries, but to summarize briefly, the label “Asian” refers to a large and diverse body of people. Wallace, on the basis of her cell phone impersonation, appears to direct her video towards East Asians: Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. These comments were expressed not just by Asian Americans but from Americans of various ethnic heritages. But perhaps more offensive than her video are the vitriolic responses from those who were upset, offended, and angered by Wallace’s video. The offensive message of one video was returned with more hurtful and offensive videos. One might justify these equally, if not more, hurtful and offensive responses by reminding us that by posting the video on the Internet, the most public of places, Wallace inevitably invited such responses. Likewise, just as she has the right to express her opinions about “Asians,” so do the people who want to express their pointed opinions about Wallace and her video. But one must ask if this is the best way to respond. Returning hurt with hurt almost always begins a vicious cycle that only makes both sides more entrenched in anger and hatred.
For Christians, grace and mercy are important relational qualities (it should be noted that these relational qualities are not solely limited to the Christian faith). So rather than respond to Wallace with anger, this particular Examiner would seek to respond with embrace, an embrace that expresses love, even to an “enemy” rather than exclusion. As a person of East Asian heritage, Wallace’s opinions were offensive. In the opinion of this Examiner, her perceptions of “Asians” are misinformed. This does not in any way make her an “enemy.” The label is used in references to Jesus’ teaching about loving one’s enemy. Jesus taught his followers, both in words and in deeds, to love others, even their enemies. But what does it mean to love an enemy, and what does that look like? Explorations into these question will continue in the next post, but for now, it’s probably safe to say that multiple death threats is not the answer.