Ann Coulter Calls Asian Americans “Mandarins” — and Insists It’s the Correct Term

Ann Coulter on Hardball with Chris Matthews on 5/27/2016. (Photo credit: Hardball / MSNBC)
Ann Coulter on Hardball with Chris Matthews on 5/27/2016. (Photo credit: Hardball / MSNBC)

(H/T: EQ)

Ann Coulter may be the Cornell alum of whom my school is most embarrassed.

The Far Right commentator deploys few facts to defend any mainstream conservative viewpoints, preferring instead to go full-tilt racist and intolerant. She routinely is found stoking the fires of Islamophobia, calling for a return to literacy tests at the ballot box, lamenting women’s suffrage, and using all manner of slurs.

And yet, Coulter routinely remains — despite her bigoted and inane commentary — a fixture of mainstream media’s political talk shows.

Last night, Coulter appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews in a segment with the host and fellow guest Joy Reid (video after the jump). In discussing protests at Trump rallies, Coulter veered once more into the bizarre and racist when she first referred to Asian Americans as “Mandarins”, and then she insisted for the next minute and a half that this is the most correct term for our community.

“Mandarins” is an archaic term used by the West to refer to the public officials of China’s imperial government. China has not operated under an emperor’s rule since 1912.

It’s doubtful Coulter knew of the word’s history: it’s hard to imagine that Coulter really believes that Trump protesters will usher in a rebirth of the Qing dynasty.

Instead, Coulter’s use of terminology is clearly a racially-charged reference to her xenophobic and nativist fears of America’s increasing cultural and linguistic diversity. “The signs are in Mandarin, ” she outrageously declares as rationale for her use of the word. Never mind, of course, that not all Asian Americans speak Mandarin, or that not all Asian Americans are even Chinese. Coulter isn’t exactly a culturally competent racist. Here, she expresses nothing but contempt for these non-English demonstrators, and to express that hatred, she searches on live TV for a dehumanizing word to use against them; And so, she arrives at “Mandarins”.

In this context, we must be clear: Coulter is using “Mandarins” as a slur. A ridiculous slur, perhaps, but an anti-Asian slur nonetheless.

The racial overtones of Coulter’s use of “Mandarins” are crystallized as she continues to pontificate upon the group she is targeting. In naming Asian Americans “Mandarins”, Coulter also declares us broadly un-American, and warns of an “invasion”. Though Coulter’s use of “Mandarins” as a slur is apparently invented, the stereotypes she invokes are not: in less than a minute, Coulter characterizes the Asian American community with the brush of Yellow Peril and Perpetual Foreigner stereotypes. When challenged by Joy Reid, Coulter invokes her privilege: she declares, “you can’t police my language!” — the classic defense of bigots who don’t want to be called out on their act of bigotry.

Coulter’s throwback racism to an archaic term can’t help but remind of recently passed legislation authored by Congresswoman Grace Meng to eliminate archaic racial terms from federal law. In a bill signed into law this week by President Obama, words like “Negro” and “Oriental” were removed from existing legal language, perhaps leaving Coulter grasping for other anachronistic slurs to use in service of her own racism.

This entire episode leaves me pondering: why does Ann Coulter keep getting invited back to talk about things like “demographic shifts”, the ostensible subject of the segment? Ann Coulter is a frenzied racist, who has never offered anything meaningful to political discourse. She may sell a headline or two, but she lowers the level of debate as she does it.

We live in an era where people of colour remain grossly underrepresented on political talk shows, and where Asian Americans in particular constitute less than 1% of guests on Sunday morning talk shows. I’m honestly not sure what is more offensive: that Ann Coulter called all Asian Americans “Mandarins” on primetime TV last night, or that MSNBC chose to invite this inflammatory racist (rather than any one of several Asian American or Latino commentators) on-air to talk about the Asian American and Latino communities in the first place.

Do better, MSNBC. Do better.

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  • sensibleman

    I think I shall refer to you as “Gaelic” or “Norse” or “German”
    sound okay?

  • Ax

    Watched the clip. This is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. The important take away from this clip is not one of semantics but one of math. The U.S. Is the third most populous country in an overpopulated planet. It is heavily in debt and overextended in finances and resources. The U.S. has an illegal immigration problem. Not a problem of legal immigration, mind you, as some people attempt to conflate the two, but a problem of illegal immigration. Existing immigration laws should and must be enforced. Legal immigration is already at an all time high and illegal immigration is not needed. People often cite Canada as a shining example of a truly progressive and evolved society, but they do not struggle with an open and unenforced boarder with a third world country, as America does. It is reasonable and obvious for a country to enforce its borders and immigration laws. Many countries, including Mexico, do a much better job of this that the U.S. Say yes to legal immigration. Say no to illegal immigration.

  • Olde Rose

    Should not one so patently steeped in Political Correctness realize that his chosen moniker is gender-specific, hence hurtful to all in his Community? Time for a term in Sensitivity Training for sensibleperson.

  • I’m sorry, Olde Rose, but the comments you have repeatedlyposted in this thread despite requests for you to review the policies of the site lead me to suspect that you are here to troll other participants rather than to engage in fruitful and respectful debate. I ask that you either shape up or I will be forced to ban you.


  • sensibleman

    Political Correctness often times goes to far, and hinders freedom of thought.
    However, I’m trying to say that there is a difference between Political Correctness and patent incorrectness;
    i.e. African Americans aren’t “Black” because they are heavily mixed with White and a little Native American Blood, typical to some U.S. populations.

  • Olde Rose

    Please do not be sorry, Jenn. I have been thrown out of classier places than this, and more often than not, deservedly so. My inner troll is admittedly irrepressible and insuppressible; it is my curse, you see, and I have callously visited said perniciousness upon your gentle soul, along with those of similarly-delicate sensibilities, sensibleperson among them. Even now, I have donned the hair shirt, and shall slink away into some mean street, there to nevermore darken your doorstoop. But know this; to my final gasping breath, I shall treasure the time we have shared, and always be haunted by what we could have meant to each other, were I not so loathsome a creature. Farewell, dear lady, and Godspeed. Semper Fi.

  • Nick

    I’m sorry, but claiming those chinks grew up next to me is a bigger generalization than claiming they are “exotic and foreign.”

    Secondly, regardless of how many “millions upon millions of viewers” are watching or listening, unless your words cause direct harm to someone else, you are completely permitted to speak your mind.

    Finally, punctuation falls WITHIN the parentheses, and the word you wanted to use in the last paragraph should have been “the box THEY’RE in.”


  • Both of you: slurs are not acceptable on this site. Please refrain from using them.

  • Guest

    Wrong. We are not “heavily” mixed with white, only a small population was. That population were called the “Talented Tenth” a name W.E.B. Dubois created for 10% of the mixed blood population during that time. We actually have more Native American blood (not a lot but more than what you proposed) due to the fact that many Native Americans were also enslaved and worked along with and married their fellow African slaves and/or the Black slaves that ran away were accepted into Native American tribes.

    If you want to talk about “patent incorrectness”choose a subject that you are well-versed in. Black history obviously isnt it.

  • sensibleman

    According to National Geographic’s regional ancestry study-

    The AVERAGE African-American is;

    77% African

    16% European

    04% Arab

    02% Native American


    I suppose it’s possible that the Median AA is higher in Black ancestry than the average, because there is a “talented tenth” that is highly mixed, dragging down the AA average for African ancestry.

  • sensibleman
  • sensibleman

    According to the National Geographic Genome Study, AAs are, on average 16% European and 2% Native American. However, the average could be lower than the median, because, as you said, a few highly mixed AAs drags down the Black admixture average.

  • Guest

    Throughout American history blacks were mostly separated from
    whites. Slavery, Jim Crow, housing discrimination, “white flight” (when
    enough blacks move into a white area whites start to leave), school
    segregation, etc. If these thing occurred how is it possible that blacks
    are mostly white?

    Ive looked at the link you posted and it proves what Ive posted here and in my earlier post (plus its only one site. You have to make a comparison with other sites that deal with ancestry to get an accurate conclusion). Blacks are still mainly of African decent. As Ive just mentioned we’ve been segregated from whites since the beginning of slavery. There is NO WAY were heavily mixed with white.

  • Guest

    Nice job, Jenn.

    Looks like Miss Coulter is at it again. Figures.

    “I’m honestly not sure what is more offensive: that Ann Coulter called
    all Asian Americans “Mandarins” on prime time TV last night, or that
    MSNBC chose to invite this inflammatory racist (rather than any one of
    several Asian American or Latino commentators) on-air to talk about
    the Asian American and Latino communities in the first place”

    Both, Jenn. Flat out.

  • Nick

    Jenn, if you’re going to be a moderator, then you need more professional training. I’ve been reviewing some of your comments towards other suspected violators, and noticed that you really don’t have a clear grasp of how to perform your job.

    Moreover, there is a dramatic difference between a formal and informal fallacy. The former being a problem with the actual structure of the argument, is always considered invalid. However, an informal fallacy, like the ad hominem you clam I committed, is not always invalid.

    The gentleman used the word “cunt” multiple times, and I simply responded that he was a “chauvinistic pig.” It is not fallacious reasoning to judge the man’s own words, and deduce that he is a hypocrite when it comes to standing up for women’s rights. The man is clearly aligned with the Left, and it’s great to see that you people are imploding.

    Have a nice day!

  • sensibleman

    I suppose I was thinking in a mixture sense (like Chemistry)- if something is almost 1/4 impure, then it’s not pure, BUT I suppose from the standpoint of how an individual sees themselves, it’s quite different.

  • Ax

    The context of the clip was about illegal immigration. A country should be allowed to have and enforce immigration laws.

  • Whirlwitch

    What you say is of course true, and something I already knew thanks to my Finnish in-laws, but sometimes one must dumb things down to make a quick reply to an ignorant troll. They’re not very intelligent as a whole, and my point that language names follow group names would be lost if I started introducing new terms like Suomi.

    Canadians have no unique language; if we did I’m sure we would call it Canadian in English, Canadien in French and variations in other languages. Our First Nations have many languages; each called after the tribe or tribal group that speaks it. Our official languages are French and English as a result of our history of colonization. We are a cultural mosaic with all that that entails.

    I don’t know what BWT stands for, so I can’t answer your question about it/them.

  • Cho Cho

    I think many people are missing the wider picture. IMO None of the terms in use are actually “racially neutral”.

    Asians is a term that should be used to refer to the “people of Asia”, comprising of everyone from Turkey to Japan; the concept of “Asia” is in itself debatable.

    The term “East Asian” should be used to denote a “nationality”, “geography” or “race”, while terms such as “Japanese” should be used to denote languages too.

    They are all terms invented by Europeans. The only divide that actually works is the divide between “Europe” and “Asia”, and maybe the divide between White Americans and Black Americans.

    And if you think Asians have it bad concerning racial definitions, just think about North Africans, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and South Asians.

  • Meghan Jolley

    Exactly! I am an English and history major in college and have been studying East Asia since last year and I will say for absolute certain that Asians are not ‘Mandarins’ nor do all of them speak Mandarin! From what I have learned, in China there are two main dialects – Mandarin being the dominant and Cantonese, which is less common but is still prominent. How about Japan? South Korea? Are they all classified as ‘Mandarins’ too even though those two nations are not part of China?
    For this imbecile to state that Asian-Americans are ‘Mandarins’ is just ludicrous and it shows how she cares not if she is being racially insensitive or not. If I had liked her before – which I didn’t, even as a conservative I thought she was an idiot – this show of unacceptable ignorance would have done me in. She fits right in with what my parents thought and how they felt about Asians, which disgusted me deeply seeing as they spouted all sorts of racist remarks about them from the time I was little.