Vice President Joe Biden is an equal-opportunity kind of guy when it comes to his deployment of somewhat offensive, outdated terms.
On Tuesday, Biden referred to unscrupulous bankers as "Shylocks" (a reference to the Jewish character from Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" who demands a pound of flesh as loan payment). On Wednesday, he referred to Asia as "the Orient."
On a recent trip to Singapore, Biden said, he met “a guy named Lee Kuan Yew, who most foreign policy experts around the world say is the wisest man in the Orient.”
Biden was speaking with the social justice group "Nuns on the Bus" in Iowa, the Washington Free Beacon reported, when he used the term.
The word "Orient" may not carry the direct stereotyping of "Shylocks," but it smacks of a certain anachronistic sensibility and is closely related to the term "Oriental" which, many have argued, has historically served to distance Asian people as foreign or "other" compared to white Americans.
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