A Japanese reporter questions President Trump. (Photo credit: Screen capture from NBC News video)
In a press conference marked by erratic and un-presidential behaviour, President Trump made racially charged remarks against a Japanese reporter, telling him to “say hello to Shinzo” — the prime minister of Japan — before complaining that he couldn’t understand the reporter’s accent.
The unnamed reporter, who was clearly fluent in English, asked the president about reports that Trump was considering placing punitive tariffs on Japanese auto imports. That’s when Trump made the quip about Prime Minister Abe and the complaint about the reporter’s accent. Trump then defended the idea of US-imposed tariffs on Japan — one of America’s closest allies in the Pacific rim — by complaining of a trade deficit between the two countries.
I accomplished nothing I’d intended to that morning. I called my mother and sister to talk about the news. I read and reread the declaration and watched whatever clips I could find. I celebrated and speculated over group chat with Korean friends. And, I cried. A lot.
The consequences of this directive are alarming. The US Census — which is constitutionally-mandated to count all US residents regardless of citizenship status — will be forced to wade into the midst of the nativist hysteria that has gripped the country, and in so doing add a question that is sure to depress Census responses from communities boasting large foreign-born populations, such as Asian Americans.
The specter of war between North and South Korea has dominated headlines, particularly as President Donald Trump increasingly matches the bellicose posturing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un word-for-word (and tweet-for-tweet). Under the best of circumstances, the precarious relationship between North and South Korea requires precise and thoughtful diplomatic handling; that is no more true now that North Korea approaches the threshold of achieving nuclear weapons.
A better president might develop a program to halt North Korea’s nuclear advancement with a measured balance of diplomacy and international sanction. A better president would understand the devastatingly high price of war, and would seek to avoid that at all costs.
But, America elected Donald Trump, a self-aggrandizing buffoon who sees the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula as just another opportunity to provoke Kim Jong Un with belittling — and highly racially emasculating — language.