For Richard Blumenthal to claim that he has been “misspeaking” in implying that he fought in Vietnam rather than obtaining multiple deferments and finally waiting things out in the Marine Reserves right here at home is repulsive. I am not exactly the first one out of the gate on that. However, he is also using language in the same way a great many Americans do when doing what they think of as The Right Thing. And as speakers of English always have – as well as speakers of any human language.
On Wednesday, TNR senior editor Ruth Franklin explored the way authenticity is played with in David Simon’s new HBO show, “Treme.” Here, John McWhorter offers his own, markedly different opinion on the subject. People can get irritating about their authenticity.
Why does Sarah Palin talk the way she does? Just what is this sort of thing below? We realize that more and more Americans are starting to see the light there and understand the contrast.
Not long ago, Tavis Smiley did something I would not have expected, which is rare. He announced that he was discontinuing his annual State of the Black Union conferences. These have been powwows where the Usual Suspects are invited to make the usual points: roughly decrying racism while genuflecting to the radical idea that people are responsible for repairing their own culture too.
The Root has an interesting list of people they say black history could do without. It got me thinking about who I would include on a top-ten list of that kind. I’m going to take a different tack than they did. My interest is not in people it’s just fun to dump on, but in people who have had a decisive impact on black lives and thought in general—and so no Dennis Rodman or Wesley Snipes. I am also thinking about true uniqueness, i.e.
So the bloom is off the rose. President Obama’s Grant Park oration now seems as antique a moment as Ronald Reagan telling us it was “Morning in America.” As glorious as it felt at the time, it was longer on drama than substance. Just why, with the state of the nation as it is now (and was then), did we suppose that anyone could “bring us together”? It was, I always thought, an unspoken idea that Obama’s “diversity” somehow enhanced his substance, his Mensch-liness.
The figures from the American Community Survey just in are more than crunched numbers. They suggest that this might be a good year for a certain term now familiar in American parlance to be, if not consigned to history, reassigned. Namely, as of now, almost 1 in 10 black people are foreign-born. About 1 in 30 are from Africa. Which means that they are--you see where I’m going--African American in the true sense.
To rake Harry Reid over the coals about his “no Negro dialect” comment will bring to mind the Biblical passage about trying to take a speck out of someone’s eye when you’ve got a log in your own. Pretty much all of America black and white feels exactly the way Harry Reid does about the way black people talk – and aren’t even worried about saying it out loud. First of all, we need not pretend that by “Negro dialect” Reid meant the cartoon minstrel talk of Amos n Andy.
So very “2004” by now – the days when the kickoff question for an interview on black issues was whether you agreed with the views of Bill Cosby.