As Left Frets Over Asian Stereotyping, Biden Calls Masters Winner 'Japanese Boy'


I think it’s time the left admits it doesn’t really care about the Asian stereotyping it claims is fueling hate crimes against Asian-Americans.

Last week, CNN’s Anne Quito decided to take on the micro-est of microaggressions — a nanoaggression, really. Her piece “Karate, Wonton, Chow Fun: The end of ‘chop suey’ fonts” explored the racism behind typefaces used in logos and advertisements to lend them a faux-Asian flair. Hank Azaria, the voice of (among other characters) Apu on “The Simpsons,” has been apologizing of late to whoever will listen over the Indian stereotyping he says is inherent in the character. There are a lot of people willing to listen.

The president calls the Masters winner a “Japanese boy” to the Japanese prime minister’s face, however, and watch it whizz by with nary a peep.

Why look at the headlines from Friday’s summit between President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Reuters: “Biden and Japan’s Suga project unity against China’s assertiveness.” The Washington Post: “Biden, Suga reaffirm U.S.-Japan alliance after afternoon of White House meetings.” The Associated Press: “Japan, US showcase alliance, resolve in dealing with China.”

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Meanwhile, there were a few scattered stories about this bit of gaffery from Friday afternoon’s goings-on, but you had to dig and they didn’t usually appear in publications given to hand-wringing about micro- and macro-aggressions perpetrated against Asians:

“I know how proud you are of the people of Japan are in — you’ve got a Japanese boy coming over here, and guess what, he won the Masters,” Biden said.

Does the media change its standards for Joe Biden?

Imagine how that would dominate coverage of any summit that involved former President Donald Trump and the Japanese prime minister. There’d be talk of dog-whistles, of using deprecatory language about Asians, about stirring up the white base or whatever Trump-related language was modish at that moment. A year later, it’s as if the comment wasn’t even made.

Just so we’re clear, Hideki Matsuyama — the first Japanese man to win a golfing major after his win at last weekend’s Masters — is 29 years old, as ESPN noted. I know Methuselah might have been in President Biden’s graduating class, but if you’re calling someone a “boy,” no matter what their race, you should be referring to someone under 12.

If it happens to be someone of a different race, meanwhile, it’s fair to say it’s not a good look. It’s not necessarily racist or coming from a place of bigotry, but calling a 29-year-old man a “Japanese boy” indicates, at the very least, a bit of verbal word-smithing that needed to be heavily retooled before it left the factory.

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Here’s the thing, though: That kind of leniency generally isn’t given to many other people in the new woke utopia. I’m not talking about just conservatives here; I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to imagine a lacerating Teen Vogue piece titled “Harry Styles’ problematic ‘Japanese boy’ comment: Why it’s so hurtful, particularly now.”

This is doubly true if you have a history of solecisms on race and ethnicity that are, if not outright bigotry, then at least questionable.

The most cringe-inducing of these came on the campaign trail in 2006, when the now-president was touting his support among the Indian-American community in Delaware. “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking,” Biden said.

A Biden spokeswoman would later claim he was trying to say that “there has been a vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware for decades. It has primarily been made up of engineers, scientists and physicians, but more recently, middle-class families are moving into Delaware and purchasing family-run small businesses,” according to NBC News. Quoth the age-old meme: “Sure, Jan.”

Biden would get in trouble again the next year when he called then-Sen. Barack Obama an “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” According to CNN, he later said he “deeply regret[ted] any offense my remark … might have caused anyone. That was not my intent and I expressed that to Sen. Obama.” He also said the word “clean” came from a familial phrase: “My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.”

The intervening decade-and-a-half hasn’t changed Joe much. On the campaign trail, Biden first got in trouble in 2019 when he talked about a different era of “civility” in Washington where politicians could work together — and gave, as an example, the work he did with arch-segregationists to kill federal busing legislation.

(In a bit of perverse irony, much of the outrage centered on this quote about his relationship with one of the worst segregationists of the lot, Mississippi Democratic Sen. James Eastland: “He never called me ‘boy.’ He called me ‘son.’”)

Later that summer, he got in trouble again for saying, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

“Wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids — no I really mean it, but think how we think about it,” he continued, according to The New York Times.

In short, Biden is someone with a history of these kinds of inappropriate gaffes. And talking about a “Japanese boy” winning the Masters at a time when the media and the left will leap like kangaroos zapped with a cattle prod over the slightest perceived anti-Asian dog whistle is not a good look.

But what’s the response from the left to this one? Silence from the media and these sorts of remarks from the Twitterati:

But that’s the thing — most of this is a non-issue. Apu is a non-issue, “chop suey” fonts are a non-issue. It’s not that Biden made a racist comment. Rather, by the rubric of 2021, these are the kinds of comments that are supposed to be put under a microscope, particularly with a recidivist offender like Biden. But it’s Joe Biden — so, shrug.

All this is just hypocrisy, plain and simple. If this were anyone else — particularly our last president — this would be headline stuff right now. It’s the silence that speaks volumes.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture