December 4, 2009

The New N-word?

Do I need to explain why white people should not use the word “nigger“?

Does anyone really not understand why some segments of African-American culture use it?

Some conservatives understand. And that’s entirely expected because they have built a truly powerful and efficient message machine over the past 40 years. Here’s Jay Nordlinger (as quoted in TPM):

When I was growing up, in Ann Arbor, Mich., there was a little debate: Should school officials try to prevent black students from using the N-word? I don’t believe the issue was ever settled. And this brings up the question of whether “teabagger” could be kind of a conservative N-word: to be used in the family, but radioactive outside the family.

Language is never innocent. You gain power by taking control of words, i.e. “We define what this word means, what it refers to, how it refers to it, and who can use it.”

The silly part in all of this is that there is just no historical or socio-political comparison between the intended use of “nigger” by politically and economically powerful whites and the intended use of “teabagger” by one faction against another under the understood provisions of the democratic bargain.

Is “teabagger” a term used by liberals to deride the tea-party patriots.

Well, duh. Of course it is.

Is it the new n-word.

Of course not.

No more so than “traitor,” which many conservatives used against liberals in recent years.

But I do think that embracing it is exactly the right move if they want to take the sting out of it.

4 Responses

  1. Sven 

    The irony. It burns.

  2. Tim 

    Somewhat related on the rhetoricone faction uses against another:

    Mystery in the Heartland

    So it turned to a domestic substitute by demonizing the latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, school-bussing, fetus-killing, tree-hugging, gun-fearing, morally relativist and secularly humanist so-called liberal elitists, whose elders had been “soft on communism” while they themselves coddle criminals, women, and same sexers, eat brie, drink chardonnay, support Darwin, and oppose capital punishment in defiance of the “moral values” of ordinary, god-fearing, flag-waving, assault gun–carrying Americans.

    It seems that as a person ages, you get to watch the generational pendulum swings in the culture war. If only for the good ol’ days when the Left could successfully “Goering” the Right as: beer-drinking, SUV-driving, home-schooling, misogynistic, planet-killing, gun-loving, bible-thumping and puritanistic so-called fascist overseers, whose elders had been “Nazi collaborators” while they themselves oppress criminals, women, and same sexers, eat meat, drink tap water, oppose Darwin, and secretly wish they could be the ones pulling the capital punishment switch.

    A Guide to Red and Blue America

    Peter Levine: the wrong kind of liberalism

  3. Tim 
  4. acline 

    Tim… Good links! Thanks!

    Ditto Sven!