The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein on the latest controversy surrounding WSCR’s Mike North, who does a wonderful job of explaining himself.
Two days after Cubs rookie right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu (above) gave up four home runs and six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, North, by his own recollection, said on the air: “Who was the Chinaman on the mound the other day? Whoever it was shouldn’t wear a major-league uniform ever again. He was dreadful.”
The fact Ryu hails from South Korea is part of what offended Woon-Wah Siu, the president of the Chinese-American organization, who e-mailed a letter of complaint to North.
“One issue faced by Asian-Americans is that, although we are a diverse group, we are often treated as a homogeneous group,” Siu wrote. “We don’t believe it’s too much to ask a veteran sportscaster like you to know the player’s name and racial background of one of [the players on] your home teams.”
Siu and organization member Steve Lake both called for a public apology.
“This comment is insulting, insensitive and inflammatory to the Asian community,” wrote Lake, whose late wife was Asian. “It is the equivalent of using the ‘N’ word to identify an African-American.”
North (above) said Thursday he didn’t know the term “Chinaman” was offensive.
“I don’t get it,” he said. “I grew up in the streets, and we used to say that all the time. I’ve got buddies living in Chinatown who are Italian. Wait, can I say ‘Chinatown’?
“I don’t mean any ill will and I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but every five years it’s something different. You used to be able to say ‘Oriental.’ Can you say Oriental Theater anymore?”