Comedian and former Tonight Show host Jay Leno is seemingly bowing to cancel culture and is now apologizing for past jokes he has made targeting Asians, saying “In my heart, I knew it was wrong.”
For more than a decade, the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) has criticized Leno for what they consider ‘racist’ jokes involving Asian communities. Leno finally conceded that his humor on the subject was inappropriate and says he regrets it. Some of the jokes alluded to Asians eating cat and dog meat.
“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno stated during a recent Zoom call 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 added, “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.”
(Video Credit: Access)
Critics claim the most recent incident where Leno offended Asians was in 2019 as a guest judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” During that show, he allegedly made a joke about Koreans eating dog meat. The joke was cut from the show before it aired, but it was revealed in a report having to do with Gabrielle Union’s complaints that the show was a toxic work environment.
“I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part,” Leno declared. “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.”
Aoki told The Hollywood Reporter he was unable to schedule a meeting with Leno after he was tapped as the host of the rebooted game show You Bet Your Life. According to the media outlet: “Last November, Aoki wrote a letter to Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and You Bet Your Life producers Tom Werner and David Hurwitz asking for the firing of Leno or else MANAA would go to their advertisers. Months later, a meeting was arranged via Zoom with Aoki as well as MANAA president Rob Chan and vice president Lawrence Lim.”
The timing of the apology seems suspect. It comes after what the left is claiming is a sudden surge of violence against the Asian community. That includes the shooting in Atlanta where eight were killed. Six of the victims were Asian and there is mounting evidence that the crime was not motivated by race.
The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino is claiming that Asian-related hate crimes rose by 145 percent in 15 of the largest cities in America in 2020. Approximately 3,800 of those incidents were reported and noted by Stop AAPI Hate out of California.
The media and Democrats are, of course, blaming former President Trump for the rise in hate crimes due to his labeling the coronavirus as the “China virus.” The argument is specious as there is no supporting evidence that Trump has caused any of the alleged increase in violence against Asians.
Chan put Leno on the spot in the Zoom call over Asian-related hate crimes: “I told Jay there’s often no negotiating with these assailants. Sometimes, they don’t communicate with their victims. They see an Asian face and — instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt that they might have things in common — only see them as foreigners to whom they attach negative stereotypes, and attack them.”
Leno claimed he was “shocked and saddened” by what was happening to the Asian community on the call. “I would be deeply hurt and ashamed if somehow my words did anything to incite this violence. With MANAA’s help, I would like to do what I can to help the healing process.”