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March 07, 2007


The American Spectator points out that Andrew Sullivan was singing a different tune in 2001:">http://andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2001_03_04_dish_archive.html#2662751">2001:

"CRACKERS, NIGGERS, FAGGOTS, ET AL: Well, if that headline doesn't bring us some traffic, what will? Thanks for all the subsequent emails about Senator "I'm-Not-A-Racist" Byrd. They raise an interesting question: what happens when an offensive term for a particular group then gets generalized to others? Byrd's defense is that he doesn't think the term "nigger" is racial any more. It can apply to whites and blacks - so it's not racist. But its origins are clearly racist; and the term is clearly derogatory. Similarly, a 20 year-old reader points out, Chris Rock has a famous routine which starts with: "I love black people, but I hate niggers." Is Rock racist? And what's the difference between him and Byrd? Well, Rock is black, of course. And he's deliberately funny, unlike Byrd, who's merely a joke. But different standards for black and white discourse is a little, er, racist, isn't it? In my neighborhood, the n-word is ubiquitous. But it's a mainly black neighborhood and the word is interchangeable with 'dude'. I wouldn't use it in a million years -especially in the 'hood. There are similar problems with the term 'faggot.' In his early days, Eminem said he had nothing against gay people, just faggots. Just as not all gay men were faggots, not all black guys are niggers. The question is whether this is one step toward enlightenment or one step back toward bigotry. I'm inclined to think that, in the younger generation, the use of such terms need not be prima facie case of prejudice. It's quite common, for example, for high school kids to use the word 'gay' to describe anything they don't particularly like. It has no tangible reference to homosexuals - although it hardly bespeaks acceptance. But in general, the use of the term now is far less ominous than it would have been ten years ago. So let the linguistic waves roll and the racial, post-racial epithets mount. And let old Klansmen like Byrd look before they mumble."

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