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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  • Ravyn Skye

    My husband said, “Hey! I’m not orange! I’m *yellow*! She better get it right!” looool

  • Skeet Duran

    If you think calling Asian Americans as Mandarins is correct, then let’s call White people as French, or Frenchies, or French Fries. lol

  • Whirlwitch

    No dear, in all the cases you mention, the name of the language follows the name of the people. English is the language spoken by Angles who founded England, French is the language of Frankish people who founded France, Danish is the language of the Danes (danskere), Finnish is the language of the Finns (finnar).

  • Whirlwitch

    I’ve been called worse. 🙂

  • Whirlwitch

    I can tell. Starting before kindergarten, going by your language, cognitive and social skills.

  • Ann-Sofie Holmberg

    Finnish/Finn/Finland is Swedish/English. In Finnish the nation is Suomi, the language is suomi and the people who speak it are suomenkielisiä. Suomalainen (ie a Finn) can be either suomenkielinen or ruotsinkielinen (swedish speaking). And of course there are the Sami the indigenous people of the Nordic countries.

    Finland is bilingual like Canada. Are they BWT french or english according to you logic?

  • Leo R

    Networks like MSNBC invite her specifically because she is controversial. Only inviting fringe personalities drives up ratings. It’s a desparate state of journalism we have come to.
    I suspect for example, that “The Guardian” has in the past intentionally published absurd and nonsensical articles in order to drive up traffic to their website on Sundays.

  • Olde Rose

    In the final analysis, Witchie, all I really need to know about matters Oriental is that, absent the ticket, I cannot redeem my laundry; and with six, we get egg rolls. So there’s that.

  • Olde Rose

    In the final analysis, Witchie, all I really need to know about matters Oriental is that, absent the ticket, I cannot redeem my laundry; and with six, we get egg rolls. So there’s that.

  • Olde Rose

    I call American citizens Americans. The traditional notion of the Melting Pot is good enough for me. Semper Fi.

  • Olde Rose

    I call American citizens Americans. The traditional notion of the Melting Pot is good enough for me. Semper Fi.

  • No. Racist stereotypes do not fly on this site. Wow.

  • Skeet Duran

    When the subject shifts to whites, suddenly you folks want political correctness, when it’s about Asian Americans you folks let anything goes.

  • Skeet Duran

    Your media, politicians, government, and police agencies do not call Asians as Americans, they call us with any names but Americans.

  • Olde Rose

    If so, they are clearly in the wrong. Being called anything other than American is a borderline slur. American is as good as it gets.

  • Michael Fairney

    ordasity?

  • Michael Fairney

    english? french? german? what an idiot!

  • sensibleman

    love it!

  • sensibleman

    except, they weren’t born speaking the language, or as a government official.
    #dawnofthebraindead

  • sensibleman

    I always used “Dann” or “Dan”.
    But this works BRILLIANTLY!

  • sensibleman

    Although I’m not sure exactly, she’s entering her third decade of trolling cable news viewers.

  • sensibleman

    okay so are all “Asian Americans” of Chinese descent?
    Still patently false.

  • sensibleman

    ???

  • sensibleman

    yes, unfortunately.

  • sensibleman

    What don’t you get?
    It’s not that it’s ‘Politically Incorrect’
    it’s that it’s simply…
    INCORRECT.

    But silly me for thinking facts matter.