I am kind of reluctant to wade into this morass, but maybe my faithful readers can help me get through something that has been bugging me.
You KNOW I'm a lifelong bleeding heart liberal, don't you? My roots may be redneck but somehow I turned out to be a pinko. Jane Fonda? Eleanor Roosevelt? Both a little conservative for my tastes.
But one thing I have trouble understanding is these white liberal flipouts over certain "racist" language. Senator George Allen and his macaca comment. Tony Snow refusing to hug the tar baby. And most lately, today, John Gibson and ooga booga fever. I saw at least two blog posts today ripping him for this.
Macaca sounds like a made-up word. Chances are Allen had no idea that it was a francophone Belgian term for certain African groups. It makes me worry because it sounds like something I might make up. Kind of a mehshugeneh/caca mashup.
And isn't the tar baby a familiar term from American folk tales that makes perfect sense in the context - that you don't want to get stuck with something you can't get rid of? Because the Uncle Remus tales were made up using broad stereotypes, does that negate their whole value and make it racist even to use parts of them?
And now ooga booga fever. Is it racist? It seems interesting that the objectors assume that Gibson was talking about a particular racial group when he used a nonsense term for a made-up disease.
I just think these arguments make liberals seem like intolerant, uptight, humorless idiots who don't have anything better to worry about or have any real problems to work on. Are we protecting anything by having these arguments over and over? Do we ferret out real racists with this language policing?
Hit me with the comments.
(On the other hand, I was happy about Imus getting fired. Calling a bunch of college women - oh, I'm not going to repeat it - was way out of line and blatantly racist. Since the airwaves technically belong to the people as a public trust, I see his removal as a benefit).