The Nation: Fat Jap Trap

It might be called "the Fat Jap Syndrome," in honor of Spiro Agnew's jocular question aboard a campaign plane in 1968, when he observed Baltimore Sun Reporter Gene Oishi asleep in his seat and inquired, "What's the matter with the fat Jap?" What was intended as bluff bonhomie immediately appeared to be racial callousness.

Americans, with their long, fertile history of ethnic invective, have lately grown extraordinarily sensitive on the subject. At the Arizona Democratic state convention last week, Congressman Morris Udall declared innocently —or so he thought—that "we were there as free,...

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