English Supremacist: Did Trump offend Japanese people with his remark?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

President Trump’s biggest blunder yet may be his shading the wife of the Prime Minister of Japan, Akie Abe, for not being able to speak English, “I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe [Shinzo Abe of Japan], who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English”. Trump said to the New York Times in a recent interview in the Oval Office.

In response, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times asked, “Like, nothing, right? Like zero?”, to which Trump replied, “Like, not ‘hello’”.

To be sure, the Trumps and the Abes have converged in a way ideologically. The Governments led by both Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe have had a nationalistic outlooks. Observers of the G7 and G20 meetings have described Abe as representing the closest thing to an ally to Trump. Shinzo Abe and his wife were, in March, accused of making donations to ultra-nationalist school in Osaka.

In three years Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics and it is certain that English would be one of the languages used over the Public Address systems, as well in designating venues and providing directions round the City. You can also expect that the United States, in keeping with tradition, would take most of the medals at the events.

But did he have to mark out the point that the Prime Minister’s wife could not speak English?

Most media reports and analysis of Abe describe her as the neutraliser to everything that is rigid and combative about her husband; there is an article where her husband calls her “the domestic opposition party”. She also has a very active Instagram account where she shares videos and images of time with her husband, the Prime Minister.

Taken as a whole, it should not be a point that she does not know a word of English, regardless of the apparent universality of the language and its importance in International Relations. And the importance of Trump’s, we may say, innocent observation is not the same as when the wife of Nigeria’s President goes to Spain and would be criticised for not being able to understand Spanish.
Perhaps not ill-intended, Trump’s remark is the ordinary expression of the superior mentality that comes with the developed world which entitles to itself the mandate that everyone should learn to be like them.

It is notable that he made the observation against a woman from Asia, a continent which has benefitted in terms of development by not discarding its own native tongues. Math, Engineering and other Sciences are taught and professed in Japanese, unlike in Africa were indigenous languages are for nothing but show of pride and artifacts of history.

Looking at it that way, it may not have been an insult by Trump after all, but a pointer to a minor but influential reason why Asian tigers like Japan have got to the stage of development they currently enjoy in the world today.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail