Ann Coulter took to MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Mathews yesterday to describe the perceived diversity of Donald Trump’s support base. In the middle of the description, Coulter used the term “Mandarins” to refer to the Asian-Americans present in some Trump rallies and events across the country.
“Mandarin” is an early twentieth century term for Asian-Americans that is clearly a throwback to a time when the average white American could use racially charged language without much condemnation by their peers, no matter how degrading that kind of vocabulary actually is for those on the receiving end of whatever message was communicated. Ann Coulter, like many of her right-wing counterparts, often condemns the practice of using more respectful language in conversations of cultural diversity by referring to it as “political correctness” running amok, often attempting to paint her and her cohorts as somehow the true victims of contemporary racial politics in the United States.
Perhaps to nobody’s surprise, this is exactly how she responded when she was called out by anchor Joy Reid shortly after she used the offensive term. After indicating that some attendees at Trump events happened to be from various non-white ethnicities, Coulter emphasized that Latino and Asian Americans have also been among Trump’s rally audience. When it came to the subject of Asian Americans though, she stated enthusiastically:
‘They have Mandarins in the audience!’
Reid was quick to respond to Coulter, saying to her:
‘Stop calling people ‘Mandarins.’ It’s called ‘Asian Americans,’ Ann.”’
After an inevitable argument between Coulter and Reid following the call-out, Reid told Coulter:
‘That’s throwback language, it’s not 1913. They’re called Asian Americans, not Mandarins.’
Coulter tried to dodge Reid’s comments by bringing the conversation back to overblown and even more racially charged accusations that there is an “invasion” of non-American people coming through the “southern border”, but Reid refused to budge, stating:
‘If your default for referring to Asian Americans is to call people Mandarins, we’re not bringing back arcane language here, Ann, let’s just talk about people as Americans, Asian Americans.’
Completely oblivious to this statement, Coulter fired back, saying:
‘No, you’re not going to police my language. They are Mandarins!’
What is quite bizarre about Coulter’s aggressive embrace of the term “Mandarin” is that many Asian Americans are not Chinese, let alone native Mandarin speakers. Not only is the term completely outdated, it’s likely not even an accurate one to describe the crowd Coulter was referring to.
Why Coulter would also take the opportunity to prove a point that Trump supporters are “totally not racist” and “totally diverse” by using a racist term that explicitly undermines diversity is also quite bizarre. It comes across as a comical attempt at multicultural outreach by a person who clearly hates the very concept of multicultural outreach.
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