Hence the clean slate aspect of the word, I get that. But how does "Asian" in any way acknowledge the different cultures of those people, which was an objection to the word Oriental?
"The Orient" was generally viewed as a single monolithic thing - it actively denied dthat cultural differences were of any importance (if it even acknowledged their existence at all). "Asian" is a term of pure geography; the only thing it links these people by is "likely to be found together in this part of a map of the world". It doesn't exactly acknowledge
cultural differences, but it also doesn't erase
them, which was an issue with "Oriental".
I'm trying to understand how we have decided it is acceptable to refer to the various peoples of Asia, because I find it strange still at this point. You mentioned three general term: Arab, Indian and Asian.
I was responding to your claim that "Asian" as a term is confusing because Indians and Arabs.
Arab seems to work reasonable well, although I wasn't aware of the Persian issue. I thought that was just an older term for Iraq? India though would presumable encompass several other countries outside India, like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Does Indian cover these people as well?
Well, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are actually pretty ethnically diverse, but what you're thinking of as "a Pakistani person" is likely Punjabi, which is a subset of Indian, yes (though there's just a few political issues with calling a Pakistani person an Indian to their face). The primary ethnic group in Afghanistan is Pashtun, which is an Iranian ethnicity - more closely related to Persians than to the Punjabi or other Indian-subcontinent groups.
Seriously, this is all one five-second glance at Wikipedia away.
Asian works (although I cannot see the difference apart from the clean slate, which again I do acknowledge as important), but then you have Malaysians, Indonisians, Sumatra ect. Is there a collective word for them?
The difference is that it is generally considered by Asian people
to be less offensive. Is this not a big deal? As for your other examples: South. East. Asian. What is so confusing about this term? Is there really a situation in which you would be told about an Asian person, see someone of Batak descent, and say "Nope, can't possibly be them!"? Could you cite an example? For bonus points: Could you please explain how "Oriental" is any better
at describing the multitude of different people in southeastern Asia than "southeast Asian"?