The recent announcement by “Sesame Street” that it will feature a new muppet who is Asian American has been widely praised, but a conservative leader has condemned the move as “insane,” according to NBC and other news outlets.
The new character, Ji-Young, a 7-year-old Korean American girl, was created in response to increasing reports of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic. The puppeteer is Kathleen Kim. Ji-Young will be introduced during a Thankgiving Day special that will also feature such celebrities as “Shang-Chi” actor Simu Liu and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
Matt Schlapp, president of the Conservative Political Action Committee, slammed “Sesame Street” and PBS, tweeting on Monday, “What race is Ernie is Bert? You are insane PBS and we should stop funding you.”
Ernie and Bert are muppets who have been on “Sesame Street” since its inception more than 50 years ago.
Appearing on “Fox and Friends First” on Thursday, Schlapp accused “Sesame Street” and PBS of “trying to bring race into Ernie and Bert.”
“I grew up watching, and it wasn’t ever about race,” he said. “It was about learning lessons and learning to read and learning tolerance. And they want to inject race.”
Schlapp also accused “Sesame Street” of “woke politics” and inserting “this whole question about gender into everything,” though it was unclear what characters he was referring to.
In an email to NBC News, Schlapp added, “‘Sesame Street’ needs to go back to the time when a show was devoted to a letter in the alphabet, and not the latest woke fad. We all loved Bert and Ernie without the foggiest idea of the racial demographic they may have represented. After all, Ernie is orange. The taxpayers deserve a big rebate. If PBS and NPR want to be in arms in the socialist movement, they need to pay their own way.”
Actor and activist George Takei commented on Facebook, “It’s simply mind-boggling that someone can look at this and see it as a bad thing.”
“Sesame Street” has also been targeted by conservatives over the issue of vaccinations against COVID. Sen. Ted Cruz attacked Big Bird for tweeting that he had gotten the shot.