Remember when some criticized Obama for bowing to the Japanese Prime Minister?
Why was this even an issue people bothered to talk about?
Some argued that its inappropriate for the President to bow--America bows to no one! Others even analyzed the exact angle of the bow. Is 45 degrees too deep? What would have been the correct angle, to show the correct amount of respect? Do Americans consider the US leader of higher stature than any other nation's leader?
What role does racism play in the valuation of Asian customs in general?
Specifically, what are the residual effects of history: vilifying the "Yellow Menace" in WWII, depicting "Japs" as subhuman monsters, herding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps, then helping Japan rebuild after the war, followed by Japan eventually surpassing the US in producing electronics, automobiles, etc.
Customary greetings and acknowledgments range from the perfunctory nod to hugs, kisses (mouth, single cheek, double cheek or air), and our favorite, the handshake and its informal cousins the high-five, the fist bump, the chest bump and so forth.
So what does a bow signify? Respect, obviously. But does that include an element of humility? Well, why not? Humility does not mean weakness. The opposite of humility is not strength, it's arrogance, or hubris.