Okay. So It’s “Negro Dialect” that’s Racist.

by Little Miss Attila on January 10, 2010

The most clinical term for a black accent is now a racist one, and both Michael Steele and Ed Morrissey have jumped on the bandwagon. Racist! Racist! Polly wants a cracker!

Reid’s remarks are yucky, but I’m not sure they are racist. They are certainly inaccurate as to President Obama’s ability to put on a black accent, because the President’s black accent sucks, sucks, sucks.

Would someone get Obama some of those tapes that actors use to learn dialects? He needs one for black urban/upper Midwest. Fast.

In other news, the President’s healthcare initiative may foster dependen-say. It is the wrong poli-say for the coun-tray.

I’m all for having a commander-in-chief who has a black dialect (or a “negro dialect”; that’s a perfectly respectable term for it). But if he is going to speak that way, I’d prefer that he do it well.

Get the man a dialect coach.

UPDATE: “Let me be clear.” Reid has to go, but not because he thought that a Presidential candidate speaking in a standard broadcaster’s dialect might potentially be an asset. Because maybe it was to some people. I tend to doubt that, and so did the President—who campaigned more and more with his fakey, bad faux African-American dialect as time went on.

But you’ll recall that at the time we hadn’t had a black President, and some felt that color, all on its own, might be a barrier. Hence, the political calculation that the broadcaster’s dialect would help.

There are so many things to get mad at Harry Reid about, and this remark was not insulting in the way that Biden’s “clean/articulate” remark was. And Biden is one notch away from the Presidency.

When it comes to Reid, it’s a made. Up. Issue.

And as the loyal opposition, we should show some judgement about what issues we seize onto: trumped-up charges of racism are not a good line of attack.

UPDATE II: Patterico ppoints out that 1) Reid has said some truly creepy things about black intellectuals in the past that may be an indication he has true racist leanings, and 2) even if he does not have such leanings, given the degree to which he’s demagogued about race in the past if this quotation serves as a knockout punch the good Senator is only getting hoisted on his own petard.

Well, if one looks at it that way, this brouhaha is less annoying. But let’s please just keep in mind that if we fight dirty, the opposition will just fight even dirtier. And if we throw sand in their face, they’ll throw gravel in ours.

Patrick’s link, h/t Insty.

UPDATE III: I’m clearly in the minority on this—perhaps, even, “the smallest minority.”

But at least, Mr. Dan Riehl, I still care about Truth ‘n’ Beauty ‘n’ Shit Like That. Ha!

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Some Stranger in San Francisco Now Has Tucker Carlson’s Personal Cell-Phone Number : The Other McCain
January 11, 2010 at 2:28 am

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Phl January 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Well said. Picking ones battles is always a good idea if possible. I wonder sometimes if the GOP even has a strategist. Maybe they need one that isn’t obviously working for the opposition.

As far as Obummer goes, maybe he needs a Dialect Czar.

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Desert Cat January 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Jumping up and down and shrieking about every little thing that might, possibly, if you squint hard enough and employ a vivid imagination, could be taken as racist, is what the left does. Thanks for this realistic view.

Although linking Patterico on what might or might not be racist..well…there are probably more credible opinions than Patrick’s on this topic.

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Gregory January 10, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Attila: I dunno. I grant we don’t have much experience with fighting dirty. But when someone keeps kneeing you in the groin and punch you below the belt, and not only does the umpire not care but the audience isn’t too bothered either, maybe it’s time we learnt.

Also, I don’t have a problem with the word Negro. Perfectly fine, outstanding word. And if I intend to use the ‘slang’ version of Negro, which does have derogatory overtones, you can bet that I will use it without asterisks and other ‘sensitive’ness. On my own blog, anyways; when commenting I have to abide by house rules, don’t I?

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Foxfier January 10, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Hehe, I did an angry tweet last night to the effect that I could not care less what the SOB said over a year ago, and I wished the news would stop obsessing over it.

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vanderleun January 11, 2010 at 6:45 am

“And if we throw sand in their face, they’ll throw gravel in ours.”

Then let’s start with large, sharp rocks.

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vanderleun January 11, 2010 at 6:49 am

And I’d like to thank Little Miss for saving me the heavy lifting on this one.

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ThomasD January 11, 2010 at 7:02 am

I’m not sure negro dialect is a particularly clinical term. The dialects in question are distinctly north American, typically urban, and generally ethnic (please note that the qualifiers grow ever more broad as we approach the issue of ‘race’.) Negro could refer to just about anyone – anywhere in the world – directly descended from sub-Saharan African roots, with the noted exception of the various European transplants.

Similarly the term black probably wouldn’t do, as it is also used widely around the globe, and could easily refer to people who have never resided in north America.

I prefer your usage – African-American -simply because it is the most concise, and specifically refers to the place where the dialects have originated (even if the person using one happens to be in Amsterdam.)

Misuse of one specific term does not render Reid a racist, but coupled with the other half of that statement (and his various and sundry others) it does render him an embarrassment.

But more importantly, we are not so much hoisting Reid on his own petard, as we are hoisting all those (Obama, et al) who are rushing to excuse what they plainly would not excuse had anyone other than a member of the Democrat Nomeklatura said such things.

In this instance Reid is just a useful idiot.

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Foxfier January 11, 2010 at 7:08 am

It’s too good of a target– “high ranking democrat made racial statement not clearly laudatory!”

What are they trying to pull our attention away from?

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Western Chauvinist January 11, 2010 at 7:12 am

I’m totally with you on not attacking Reid for racism… how stupid is the GOP? I want Reid in his senate seat as majority leader when the Utah electorate kicks him to the curb in November. Like Daschle – only sweeter. Dumping Reid now is not going to stop Obamacare and may open his seat to a different Democrat in the election.

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Jewel January 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I often lapse into Negroid Speech Affectation when I am opening a can of whoop-ass on one of the fruits of my womb. Which is prolly racist of me to do. But, no matter. I am comforted by the notion that everything I say or do will be grievously damaging to some Perpetually Outraged Offended Person, anyway. That’s a good thing, really, because I have no pity glands any more, since the last drop of lily white ass guilt was wrung from them over the whole Nez Percé debacly thingy.

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Little Miss Attila January 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Wait! What did I miss about the Nez Pearce? Something got by me, dammit!

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Jewel January 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Sorry, Miss A. I grew up in Montana, and we were drilled while still in diapers that Chief Joseph was something like the Messiah of all noble savages…hell, I went to Chief Joseph Elementary School, and that the evil whites chased him and his noble band of do gooder savages who were only trying to protect the polar bears or some bunkum like that, and we rounded them all up and put them on reservations. And that’s why the Injuns is all messed up now.
I know a small number of Indians who do well enough choosing not to live on the reservations, but the ones who do get lots of guilt money from the ignoble white man, and seeing what gubmint largesse has done to them, I feel that I’m done paying my reparations.

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Little Miss Attila January 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Whoa. That’s kind of a lot. I feel a bit skittish about making too many analogies between the Native American experience and the Black American experience, for a whole bunch of reasons.

Certainly many reservations have acted like “ghettoes,” so there’s a rough parallel that can be drawn.

And no group does well living off of government largesse–at least, not able-bodied people with that kind of relationship to the Feds.

But when it comes to Native American tribes, there are treaties in place, and that complicates matters legally.

I’ll grant that it doesn’t change the fact that earned money means freedom for most people, and for most groups. But I’m not sure there’s an easy solution, other than to encourage free enterprise within the reservations, which is critical–and also something that’s happening.

I don’t like the term “reparations” used to describe the United States’ legal obligations. It makes me feel like critical distinctions are being blurred.

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Jewel January 12, 2010 at 5:31 am

I will agree with you on that point Miss A. My point of view has evolved based mostly upon my experience with the various Indians, who are as diverse from each other as any group of people. What you have, though, with the tribes is complex, with some tribes exercising complete control over its members, to their utter detriment, to ludicrous blood content tests, to see how ‘Native’ a member is. One of the more insane things going on is white people, claiming, through the silly blood content test, Indian heritage, where they aren’t actually Indians….which then allows them to exact from the government the treaty obligations made on paper. It’s an evil system. Another thing, largely ignored by the press, is the fact that many Indians don’t even like the reservation and treaties, since they believe that it has actually destroyed their culture, reducing to tourist flotsam.
Such people are proudly Indian, I might add, but they believe that integration into American culture and not separated from it would have saved their families from indolence, alcoholism and high rates of suicide.
What we have done with our treaties and set asides, hasn’t truly improved the Indian Tribes’ lots at all, but portended a painful scenario of what the Great Society did to the black family. And the Great Society is nothing more than indiscriminate White Guilt, making up for the sins of our forefathers. It has failed on every meaningful level….but I ramble. Here’s a guy you should become acquainted with:

http://www.badeagle.com/

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Federale January 13, 2010 at 11:18 am

Come one, just why did Obama win why Reverends Jesse and Al both lost in their respective Presidential campaigns? They were much more black, and had “Negro” accents.

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Foxfier January 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

I don’t like Obama, and even I don’t hold to him to be as bad as “Hymietown” Jackson and “let’s incite riots” Sharpton. Perhaps only because he hasn’t had as long.

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ccoffer January 14, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I don’t want to buy the world a coke. Instead, I want everyone on earth to join hands. Every person of every creed, every religion, every race, every color look one another in the eye and all scream in unison, “Nigger!!!”

Then we can all move on.

[I’m going to assume that this is like the “verbal judo” Christopher Isherwood suggested when he proposed, back in 1981 or so, that gay people simply call themselves “queers” (that was a no-no at that time). This was a way, he contended, of taking the sting out of the word. Alice Walker also said somethng along those lines in an interview once, regarding the term “nigger.”]

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