It didn’t take too long for the Left to defend Barack Obama’s bow to Emperor Akihito yesterday by claiming that the President was merely showing cultural sensitivity to the Japanese emperor by deeply bowing. There’s a couple of problems with that argument. First, American Presidents do not bow to monarchs, or at least they didn’t through the first 43 Presidents and the 220 years they served as the US head of state. Perhaps a few of them might have done so out of cultural sensitivity when traveling to foreign nations as private citizens, either before or after their terms in office, but not when they represented the United States of America. Even the New York Times knew better than that in 1994.
For those arguing that such a policy merely propagates American arrogance and that Obama wants to “change perceptions,” this video by the UConn College Republicans points out the second problem. Heads of state do not bow and show obeisance to one another, regardless of whether either one is an American President. The UConn group reviews 47 different greetings to Emperor Akihito and various heads of state, including a few from fellow Pacific Rim countries with similar cultural sensitivities, and doesn’t find a bow among them:
I can’t wait to see the Left chastising these world leaders for their cultural insensitivity. They’d better include Akihito in that condemnation, too. As yesterday’s video clearly showed, Akihito knew better than to return Obama’s bow.
Maybe some of those rushing to offer apologias for bows should have taken their cue from the White House last April, when they attempted to deny that Obama had bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at all.