Why McCain's "gooks" comment matters

As an Asian American, Irwin Tang has been on the receiving end of the epithet "gook." It's often hurled, he tells The UpTake's Chuck Olsen, when someone means him harm. But what if it comes out of the mouth of a presidential candidate -- like Sen. John McCain?

"I hate the gooks," McCain said in 2000. "I will hate them as long as I live." A war veteran who was tortured by Vietcong captors, McCain later apologized for the comment, but as Tang argues in his new book, it still matters. The Texas native says that "gook" is "both a term of war and a term of racism, and John McCain is very active in both areas." The word goo-goo, he explains, was used to describe Filipinos when U.S. troops occupied the country, and it morphed into "gook" when the U.S. occupied Haiti. In Vietnam, as in other conflicts, it was used to de-humanize the enemy.

The author of Gook: John McCain's Racism and Why It Matters, Tang concludes: "If he had used the n-word rather than the g-word -- 'gook' -- we would've disqualified John McCain for the presidency immediately."


Anonymous said...

First of all there is no evidence that mccain was tortured at all. it is more likely, that since he cooperated with them shortly after he was captured, he lied about being tortured to avoid a courts-martial. Second, he was captured by some Vietnamese fishermen, who risked their own lives to swim out and save him, when he parachuted into a lake. Third, he was turned over to the PNVA, not the Vietcong. The term "gook" has evolved into a term used to describe any person of Asian descent. Anyone who says otherwise, is quibbling, or flast out lying.

wandering_nomad said...

Very revealing, I honestly hadn't heard of John McCain using that word until I stumbled across this on Reddit. Why hasn't this received more publicity?

Anonymous said...

Although I disagree with the first comment, I commend your video. Well-done, poignant, topical. Simply put, John McCain is a hawk of the highest order, even despite his experiences. Maybe because of them, if that can be believed.

His inflammatory comments have been overlooked for the last thirty years due to his service to this country, which, despite the type of campaign he is running, does make him a hero.

Thank you. That video was extremely informative.