Repeatedly and with prejudice.
A month ago, I wrote a post about the racism which is festering and beginning to ooze out of the open sore known as Firedoglake. Essentially, my point was that if FDL continues to ban opposing viewpoints in its comment section, it1 owns the racism contained therein. Soon after that post, I stopped reading FDL because it was doing nothing but raising my blood pressure.
Well, last night I took a break from not reading FDL and, like a dumbass, I read FDL. Here’s what I found in a post about restoring the unions and strengthening the labor movement [I'm not linking to that sewer, but you can Google "The Liberal Blogosphere Is A Neoliberal Blogosphere, Unfortunately" and find it your ownself]:
The basic problem is that the Rich ate all the pie. What do you intend to do about it? Snuggle up to their Democratic Party incarnation some more in the hope of getting some crumbs? There used to be a term for that, on the plantations. House N****r.
My jaw dropped when I read that line. My jaw dropped further when I realized it was more than 50 comments later before a commenter decried the use of the term as offensive. My jaw eventually fell right off my face when other commenters began to defend the diarist’s use of the language as “appropriate” and a matter about which the parties could “agree to disagree.” Eventually the diarist chimed in to defend himself:
Contrary to “oldgold” I would have used exactly the same analogy and word choice if Obama were not president. He can either choose to believe me or not, as he sees fit.
Being of Scottish birth and upbringing I care not a whit whether someone is black, white, yellow, purple polkadotted or striped…as long as he isn’t English (jk!).
There were other phrases I considered but none had the immediate impact and accessibility of the one I chose, denoting what should be fellow-travellers in poverty who have sold out for the crumbs from the Rich man’s table. “Lumpenproletariat” was too old-fashioned and inpenetrable while not conveying the betrayal involved; “Judenrat” would, I think, have been even more contraversial [sic].
But I’d much rather the conversation wasn’t bogged down in my word choice. I apologise for any offense caused, however inadvertently. Substitute “class traitors” or some other phrase mentally if you wish and concentrate on the rest of the post.
The anti-Semitic language is a nice touch, I think. As is the “mistakes were made/I apologize if you were offended but it was inadvertent anyway”-style apology. Classic GOP, innit? Oh, and did I mention that this post was published on MLK Day? So there’s that, too.
But let’s not get bogged down in his racist and offensive language. Just substitute some other non-race-based word and let’s focus on the rest of the post, shall we? Because as a later commenter informs us, “only fucking whites would make a stink about it.” It’s silly to make a stink out of referring to Democrats as House niggers and who wants to hear you PC Police tut-tutting about it? No one, that’s who.
After I rettached my jaw to my face with a rusty butter knife and some glue, I re-read the first comment; it appears to have been posted by a moderator:
Editor’s note: Thank you for your post. Please see the site’s rules at http://my.firedoglake.com/aboutus. The first excerpt used has been edited to three grafs; the site of origin does not have a clear copyright notice, but it’s also not clear that reprinting nearly 700 words here was with the original author’s permission.
Please also note we do not use THAT word here.
And the response from the diarist:
Thanks for the edit-job, Rayne, and keeping me straight on the site rules.
Thanks for the kind words, szielinski!
Now I may be reading this incorrectly, but it seems to me that Moderator Rayne, after pointing out that “we” (FDL) do not use “THAT word,” went into the diary and did a little editing — by changing THAT word (nigger) to THIS word (n****r).
So it appears to be FDL’s policy not to use racist words, but to use racist word-markers. Neither permutation of the racist and offensive word removes the racism or the offensiveness of the word. Besides, “n****r” isn’t a word; it’s an asterisk sandwich.
Normally, I would post my favorite Louis C.K. clip on “The N Word” and how it’s just a way for white people to get away with saying the word “nigger.” Instead, in the spirit of the dawning of the Age of Civility, I’m going to post this Richard Pryor clip: Continue reading