Last Friday night on a segment of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”, political commentator Ann Coulter referred to a crowd of Asian-Americans as “Mandarins,” insisting that the term was correct to describe both people and the Chinese written language.
Coulter was commenting on a pro-Trump rally in San Diego, California calling it “one of the most diverse crowds anyone has ever seen,” but things quickly went downhill from there.
According to Coulter, the crowd was filled with “Hispanics” and “Mandarin Chinese” with signs for Trump written in “Mandarin”. Mandarin, of course, is only used to describe a spoken dialect of the Chinese language, the miniature orange fruit, or Iron Man’s archenemy in the Marvel Comics universe.
When MSNBC anchor Joy Reid called Coulter out on the inaccurate use of the terms, Coulter responded with, “You’re not gonna police my language!”
She once again described the crowd as full of “Mandarins” and “Hispanics” (the proper terms would be Asian-Americans and Latinos) when Reid interrupted with:
“What does ‘Mandarin’ mean? You mean Asian-Americans.”
Reid went on to say Coulter’s use of the term “Mandarin” was “throwback language” and “arcane.”
Responses to the comments soon appeared on Twitter, including from “Fresh Off the Boat” actress Constance Wu:
WOW Ann Coulter is unaware of the fact that not all Asian countries speak Mandarin. That’s like, kindergarten level geography.
— Constance Wu (@ConstanceWu) May 30, 2016
— Eugene 洪 (@eughung) May 28, 2016
— Jenn | Reappropriate (@reappropriate) May 28, 2016
Blog site Angry Asian Man further elaborated on the “arcane” use of the word, which fell out of use over a century ago:
“‘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.”
You can watch Coulter boldly insist her use of the term Mandarin is correct starting at around 5:05.