On a podcast with comic Marc Maron—because comedians ask such probing questions and have such high journalistic standards—President Barack Obama, while musing on the topic of race, said, among other things:
“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination — in in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”
Whatever the pros and cons of that statement—and it really isn’t especially remarkable—, it is Obama’s use of the word “nigger” that has cable news and the internet buzzing, fainting and drooling. To take some media idiots at random…oh, let’s say, the Fox and Friends crew, along with some commentators Fox dug up someplace. you would think that Obama was doing a Samuel L.Jackson imitation.
If a President is going to talk about racism and raise the perfectly relevant issue of racial epithets such as nigger, it is reasonable, competent, civil and appropriate for him to speak the word he is talking about. Of course it is. No, “Fox contributor David Webb,” whoever you are, it is NOT “beneath the office of the president” to say the words that express the idea you intend to express. It would be beneath the office of the Presidency” for the grown man in that office to use juvenile code-words like “N-word,” which is the way my wife and I talk around our dog, since Rugby goes ballistic if we say “walk,” “outside,” “nap.” “treat, “cheese,” “food,” or “The Adventures of Lassie” out loud. Someone tell various news outlets that the undignified, foolish ones are all of them, treating their audiences or readers like children (or Jack Russell Terriers) and playing hangman and “Wheel of Fortune”—“He said n- – – – -!” I’ll buy a vowel, Pat!”—when they should be telling us exactly what the President said.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you! Now maybe if people are talking about the word nigger, they will use the word they are talking about, because that’s how human beings communicate.
Except on Fox news. I swear, sometimes, I don’t know what the hell they are doing.