The Spine

Mcwhorter's Pick-axe Critique

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John McWhorter, who is an off-and-on cotributor to our "Open University" blog (see here, here, here and here), is one of the most perceptive and challenging writers on race today. And since race relations--black and white, black and black--is expressed in language, McWhorter is a step ahead of everyone else in understanding both the subtle and the gross shifts in the culture of, and towards color. This is because he is a a learned linguist (he received his PhD in linguistics from Stanford and taught the subject at Cornell and Berkeley) and is alert to nuances that
others don't notice. Or, if they do notice, tend to dismiss as, well, just acting or acting up.

McWhorter makes his arguments not with a sledgehammer but with a pick-axe, and he has done so again in this morning's New York Sun. It's about the "stop snitching" method of countering racism, enunciated by the rapper Cam'ron on Anderson Cooper's "60 Minutes." But it's been with us for a long time. And its "don't give a damn" attitude suffuses the degrading
norms of many young blacks.

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