By now, you are familiar with the all-too-familiar pattern in public life.

Recently, Saturday Night Live announced their new cast member Shane Gillis, so people on Twitter naturally went into private investigator mode to find out whether the comedian had any deep, dark racist secrets.

Turns out, he did.  Old clips of the comedian show him making fun of Asians.  TMZ reports that in one recording, “Shane and his podcast partner are yukking it up over Chinatown … ripping the architecture, residents, culture and food. Shane refers to noodles as ‘nooders’ and uses a derogatory term for Asians in the expletive-laden discussion … with both hosts bashing all things China.”

Gillis explained that he sometimes “pushes boundaries,” but apologized.  

“I’m a comedian who pushes boundaries. I sometimes miss. If you go through my 10 years of comedy, most of it bad, you’re going to find a lot of bad misses,” he wrote.  “I’m happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve said. My intention is never to hurt anyone but I am trying to be the best comedian I can be and sometimes that requires risks.”

People still called for his immediate firing, but Gillis was defended by a surprising source.

Taiwanese-American Andrew Yang, a Democrat running for President, wrote a touching Twitter threadabout how it feels to be mocked for one’s ethnicity, redemption, and forgiveness.

Shane – I prefer comedy that makes people think and doesn’t take cheap shots. But I’m happy to sit down and talk with you if you’d like.  For the record, I do not think he should lose his job. We would benefit from being more forgiving rather than punitive. We are all human.  I’ve been called chink and gook any number of times in my life. It can be extraordinarily hurtful to feel like you are somehow not part of the only country you have ever known. I have certainly felt that – the churning sense of alienation, anger and marginalization.  It’s also the case that anti-Asian racism is particularly virulent because it’s somehow considered more acceptable. If Shane had used the n word the treatment would likely be immediate and clear.  But I took the time to watch and listen to Shane’s work. He does not strike me as malignant or evil. He strikes me as a still-forming comedian from central Pennsylvania who made some terrible and insensitive jokes and comments.  I think we have, as a society, become excessively punitive and vindictive concerning people’s statements and expressions we disagree with or find offensive. I don’t think people should be losing jobs unless it’s truly beyond the pale and egregious. I understand those who have another point of view on this. Obviously the folks at NBC are the real decision-makers. But if I can forgive Shane, as the guy he called a slur, I hope others can as well. I also hope Shane is open to learning. We are all human, we’re all fallible.

Yang’s message was not well-received by everyone.

“Shane calling you a chink on his podcast is beyond a cheap shot and no, you shouldn’t sit down and talk with a hateful bigot like him,” wrote Dr. Eugene Gu.

Yang responded by explaining this should be a “teaching moment,” not one of retribution:

“Thanks Eugene. I believe that people can find out about each other through this kind of dialogue. We should try to make this a teaching moment if possible,” he wrote.  “I understand and appreciate your perspective though, as there is a line to be drawn.”

This won over Dr. Gu.  “Thank you, Andrew. That slur brings up painful memories for me and many other Asian Americans. But I admire your commitment and belief that everyone can be redeemed—even those who may have hatred in their hearts.”

I disagree with many of Yang’s policy prescriptions, but he seems like a great guy. And this was a rare political moment of grace and class. Really, it was just a human moment. A candidate who chose not to play the victim card and instead showed understanding and compassion.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough tweeted, “Andrew Yang shows forgiveness and humanity, rejecting calls to feed into the cancel culture. A glimpse of grace.”

I agree. More of this, please.  From both sides.

Image Credit: Flickr from Collision Conf

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.