Republicans in New Jersey are being accused by Democrats of using a “racist” font in an attack ad pamphlet that targets a Korean-American candidate for Congress.
Andy Kim, a former White House and Pentagon national security official, is running against two-term GOP incumbent Tom MacArthur in New Jersey’s third district House race.
The ad in question attacks Kim for allegedly failing to paying property taxes and planning to increase taxes of local families.
It comes with a headline that says “Something is REAL FISHY about Andy Kim” and a complementary picture of four dead fish on ice.
Democrats have claimed that the words “REAL FISHY” — as well as the candidate’s name at the end of the ad — are spelled out using a font called “Chop Suey,” which is often used in Asian films and Asian food stores.
Democratic State Chairman John Currie, who launched a complaint against the ad, told the New Jersey Globe:
“Congressional Republicans like Tom MacArthur can’t run on their record, because their only legislative accomplishment is a tax cut for billionaires and big corporations that screwed middle class taxpayers in New Jersey. So they’re left with the kind of racist, dog whistle politics that this mailer demonstrates, trying to make a distinguished public servant like Andy Kim into an ‘other.’”
Democratic spokesperson Caitlin Mota told NJ.com that the ad was a “shameful racist attack.”
“The GOP’s decision to show images of raw fish and to use this particular red block font, which is actually called ‘Chop Suey’ and has long been used to visually convey Asian heritage, makes it abundantly clear what this mailer is — a shameful racist attack on a qualified and capable public servant.”
State Republicans dismissed their counterparts’ claims.
“This is an ugly attempt to change a bad news cycle for Andy Kim where he was given two Pinocchios from the Washington Post for lying about his resume again,” said Harrison Neely, a spokesperson of the Republican State Committee. “False cries of racism are a sign that the Kim campaign is coming unhinged down the stretch. Let’s not forget that Tom MacArthur has two Korean children.”
State Democrats maintained that the other party’s excuse is what’s fishy.
“Republicans can deny it all they want, but any reasonable person can see why showing an Asian-American candidate next to a pile of raw fish and dog-whistle font would raise some questions,” Elizabeth Gilbert, executive director of the Democratic State Committee, told the New Jersey Globe.
“MacArthur and his allies have already tried to smear Andy Kim as ‘not one of us’ and it’s starting to look like their whole campaign is based on making oblique references to his heritage, not talking about the issues that 3rd district voters care about like access to affordable health care and property tax relief.”
Twitter users weighed in on the matter:
A font can’t be racist. Most sane people recognize that, but please, keep talking about it instead of the issues!
— Matt Rooney (@MattRooneyNJ) September 20, 2018
Random thought but the fact that we have special fonts for racism is really a testament to white people’s dedication.
Also yes this is a real life mailer NJ GOP Congressperson Tom MacArthur put out. pic.twitter.com/uCrhRGWquX
— racially tinged merengue (@hermit_hwarang) September 18, 2018
Now fonts are racist? I mean, come on… pic.twitter.com/jQpV1qUSu3
— Ghost Writer..spooky (@ApatowsGhost) September 20, 2018
— RBG Horcrux (@dparkdpark) September 20, 2018
My family is from outside of Rome. Please don’t use times new Roman font, it is extremely racist and offensive.
— Haywood Jablome (@JPTiki) September 19, 2018
It IS racist, did you read the piece? The font, the imagery, it’s all racist. Not to mention what’s racist isn’t for you to decide.
— Sarah Ordway (@sarahords) September 18, 2018
Fonts can’t be inherently racist, the issue is the intent behind using it in context of his opponent. If @tmac4congress doesn’t agree with using “Chop Suey” maybe he needs to get a new mail consultant? Pretty sure he’s not picking fonts himself but he’s ultimately accountable
— Phil Swibinski (@philswib) September 19, 2018
Asian style lettering was the giveaway. This is absolutely racist.
Could’ve made all those same points without the lettering. The font was deliberate.
If you don’t see why this is racist, you have a whole host of other problems, buddy.
— Kushal (@kushmoney929) September 18, 2018
How is this in any way racist? If you find this racist, then you need to look in the mirror. You obviously believe that Korean Americans only eat fish. Maybe the guy likes a good cheeseburger.
— greyghost (@greyghost587) September 19, 2018
To start: they picked a font that resembles the stereotypical lettering on Chinese restaurants, and “fishhead” is a racist slur against East Asians
— Tobita Chow 周鳶多 (@tobitac) September 19, 2018