Personally, I Prefer the Term “Asian”

Not an economics post, but I cannot resist.

From WaPo:

An Illinois congressman compared town hall meetings, which for many Republicans have turned into raucous affairs, to the practice of “cleansing” by “Orientals.”

Republican Rep. Mike Bost made the assertion during a meeting with the editorial board of the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale.

“You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need. We need to have meetings with people that are productive.”

If the congressman had a better understanding of history, he would know that Mao era self-criticism sessions are actually successors to the struggle sessions of 1920’s Soviet Union. Hence, the more appropriate reference would have been to “…cleansing that the Russian Occidentals used to do…” For some reason, he chose not to.

8 thoughts on “Personally, I Prefer the Term “Asian”

  1. dilbert dogbert

    MMMMM???? Productive. Does that mean sit down shut up and listen to what I have to say then go home?

  2. joseph

    He didn’t do it on purpose. His use of the term “Orientals” was just occidental.

  3. Bruce Hall

    While there are many fine minds in politics, they are, unfortunately, connected to their mouths. That’s not limited to politics, by the way.

  4. Bruce Hall

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
    ― H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

    Some will argue that day has passed.

  5. tew

    I’m not usually one to jump on the outrage bandwagon (*), but this guy Bost is a tool. It’s one thing for your grandmother or somebody from a part of the country unfamiliar with current terminology (and how people currently perceive former terminology pejoratively) to casually and without malice refer to someone as “that nice Oriental friend of yours” (**). It’s another thing entirely to use your position and power to project easily curable ignorance. In fact, Bost ensures he puts that hard “the” in front of “Orientals”. I guess this helps emphasize the oneness of “all of them” in space and time. What an idiot.

    * Actually, they ran out of bandwagons, started running trains and ran out of cars, so now you are allowed to get your outrage on using any vehicle of your choice or even just by putting on a pair of slippers and walking a couple of steps. It’s that east!

    ** Followed by “Where is he from?”. And you answer without being a jerk by saying something like, “his parents are from Korea and he is from Los Angeles”.

  6. c thomson

    since ‘oriental’ is just French for east, and is not perceived as pejorative in most of the world, I tried to find out why the word is non-PC in the US – this is the best explanation I could find:

    John Kuo Wei Tchen, director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York University, said the basic critique of the term developed in the 1970s. Tchen has said, “With the anti-war movement in the ’60s and early ’70s, many Asian Americans identified the term ‘’Oriental’’ with a Western process of racializing Asians as forever opposite ‘others’.”

    So it seems that with the “politically correct” movement in late-20th-Century academia, “oriental” may have been purged along with once-euphemistic terms like “retarded” and “handicapped.” With respect to Tchen, however, I find the word more creepily fetishistic than disparaging. In my opinion, its patronizing quality makes a more compelling argument for its offensiveness. Indeed, when New York State decided to ban the term from official state documents in 2009, Howard University’s Frank H. Wu defended the action on such grounds:

    [Wu] said that the term was associated with exoticism and with old stereotypes of geisha girls and emasculated men. “‘Oriental’ is like the word ‘negro.’ It conjures up an era.”

    1. Steven Kopits

      To my mind, ‘oriental’ connotes a cultural sensibility more than an ethnic group. The term refers to gold and silk–particularly red silk–something exotic and mysterious, inscrutable (to use that stand-by)–something westerners do not understand. There was none of that under Mao.

      We now more routinely use ‘Asian’, I think more commonly ‘East Asian’, when speaking of China, Japan, Korea and Indochina. Orientals don’t work at Samsung, Asians do. Asians work at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong. They may be ethnic Chinese, but culturally, they are perhaps not that different than the guys working for Goldman in New York.

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