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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Perished Assumptions

When I was 18, I thought that from then on I would always be 18, and for quite a long while that seemed to hold true.  

When I turned 40, I knew that I had left age 18 some distance behind.   Still, I thought that henceforth I would always be 40 or thereabouts.

 But then more time passed.

Two decades later, when I reached age 60, I believe I thought that thereafter not much would change, and I would always be somewhere in the neighborhood of age 60.

But after that still more years passed, and this past summer I reached age 82.

Now, however, I have learned my lesson, and I am quite well aware that in every one of the days that wait ahead, I will be that much less of age 82, or any other age that I might reach,  than I was the day before.

I place the lion's share of  the blame for this new enlightenment on all thoughts of having to go up on my roof -- any of my several roofs -- though there are dozens of other culprits or "teachers" close at hand as well, especially my increasingly wobbly feet -- or is it those all too comfortable crocs?.

I can happily live with that.

But of course, I have to, don't I?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Keeping "Nigger" Nauseous

It is always interesting to see all the conniptions into which the use of what they are pleased to call the “n-word” (i.e. “nigger”) drives a great many people descended from all the European settlers in North America.   (And, by the way, it should never be forgotten that each and every one of these immigrants was decidedly illegal, from the point of view of the millions whose numerous groups had already been firmly established here for thousands of years and who had long since shown themselves to bave been wonderful custodians of the land, mainly by not doing much of anything with it – a system of land management that works perfectly every time.   Furthermore these Original Occupants had been quite happy with knowing absolutely nothing about the existence of all those cross-waving devils on the other side of the big seas to the east, and it didn’t matter how many Shakers of Spears, Mozarts, Newtons, Caesars, or Da Vincis they had produced, or even how much nonsense various shamans among the tribes’ own numbers,  having just smoked some bad peyote from somewhere, had cooked up  about the chance of “white gods” one day showing up from the east.)

Getting back to good ol’ “nigger,” the latest example of what I started out talking about is a woman of the lighter persuasion named Paula Deen, who, until recently, apparently was big on a TV food show of some sort.   For some reason she admitted to having said “nigger” in some context that she said was years ago, and for that she was promptly dropped from the show, and shortly afterward she was also disconnected from a couple of other lucrative enterprises as well, and the costs to her for her verbal indiscretion (or her revealing of it) seemed to keep climbing sharply.

   In response Bill Maher, another TV personality and well known for his acerbic attitude, which is often pointed in a good direction though sometimes not, came to her defense, asking plaintively – but quite rightly – why do people always have to “go away” when they use that word?    In other words, what’s happened to American freedom of speech?   And it’s just a word, isn’t it?  

But it wasn’t at all what Maher said that I found so interesting.  Nor was it the attitudes shown in the lengthy comment section that followed an Internet account of his involvement in this business, because there wasn’t anything novel about what those people spouted either.  They made the same sort of empty and not at all well-considered remarks that you hear or read after any such article or whatever on a racial subject, especially when use of the word “nigger” is the subject.  No, the interest arose from noting how, after all these years (I am now 82), nothing is changed in a great many Europeno (aka “white”) reactions.

Can it be that in the matter of those humans, that, in spite of everything, they have been raised to consider inferior to themselves, large numbers of Europenos are forever incapable of learning anything or giving any sort of constructive thought to it, generation after generation?  Instead, if the subject is racism in any context, they just grab the nearest empty cliche that comes to their minds and hang on to it for dear life, before going on and with great relief to another topic.

A few hardier souls among them, however, are not as quick to drop the subject, and their main thing is pretending to be incensed that the people that they call “blacks” (but which I call by the much more pleasant and apt term “rainbows” because they exist in all the hues of the human spectrum in a glorious display of inclusiveness, whereas the only thing that sets gay people off from the rest of humankind is their strong gender exclusivity, and I see nothing about that that merits their waving of prismatic flags) are allowed to call each other “niggers,” and even in an admiring way, while Europenos, though they’re the dominant group, strictly are not, in any manner.  These dominants consider it the worst kind of outrage and outright racial discrimination imaginable, that they, though superior to all others in all situations except basketball games, should be forbidden anything, and especially – especially! – something that those lowest of the low, “blacks,” are allowed to indulge in liberally.

  This indignation reaches such a bitter and ridiculous fever pitch that some even demand that if “whites” cannot be allowed to use the “n-word,” then “blacks” should never be permitted to use it either, simply because that kind of usage is blatantly discriminatory against “whites,” and also because “nigger” is such a godawfully terrible epithet, and it is time, they argue, that “blacks” smarten up enough to realize that fact and to recognize that every time they hear it used, they should feel inspired to hit, kick, and even kill.  

This is exactly where, in my expert and long-considered opinion, nearly everyone, of all pigmentations, completely misses the Big Point that should be involved with any use of the word “nigger” – a point so large that it is an enormous failure of collective eyesights to keep overlooking it so completely.   This point is not at all the horror of the word “nigger.”   Instead it is the idea that no effort should be spared to de-fang the word instead, to strip it as completely as possible of all its vitriol, the same as had long ago already happened with  “black.”  To me personally, on a scale of 1 to 10, achieving this would have merited a resounding 10, whereas being admitted to a fancy restaurant would have had trouble rating even as high as a 2.

So little is known of even the latest chapters of “black” history that few if any will believe me when I say that as recently as my younger days, from 1931 up to about 1965,  to the descendants of the slaves brought over from Africa “black” was a pejorative word and just as lethal to us as “nigger” (coming out of the wrong mouths), so much so that even today I am highly uncomfortable with being called “black” by anyone or on hearing people like me being referred to as “blacks,” as the most notorious member of the Supreme Court conspicuously did just the other day.

   But at the same time that Reverend King and his allies were doing all their good work in bringing about a number of civil rights, competitors of theirs in much the same cause, the “black militants,” accomplished a language miracle, by pushing the (at times overblown) concept of “black pride” so hard that in just a few years, some time in the mid 1960’s, the word “black” completely lost its sting and instead gained a usage status wherein today it is considered to be an always harmless if not always laudatory term – as short-fallen as I still see that idea as being.   And I’ve never seen any reason why it was that the “black” militants like Stokeley Carmichael, Huey Newton, H. Rap Brown, and the others were not able to do the same thing and more with “nigger” and why people of all kinds cannot unite in doing so today.

Correction.   Of course, I do see exactly why that is so hard to accomplish, and every time somebody – almost always a Europeno -- “slips” and uses the word “nigger” in any spirit at all, it is all too easy to see the cavalry and the infantry being instantly drawn up to make sure that  that term never loses one particle of its punch and poison, and to see that any attempts to sanitize it are stamped out without delay .  And you will see all that false fire and fury being raised hardly at all by rainbows but instead almost solely by members of the pale-visaged brethren.   It is all in the cause of “white” racism, unconscious or not.

Here we should always remind ourselves of two interesting things in this matter.   One is that there is no word denoting “white” people that is anywhere near as virulent as “nigger” is supposed (and hoped) to be, and Majority America couldn’t be happier with that circumstance – while disregarding the all too obvious fact that this suggests only that the “white” capacity for extreme hatred far outstrips “black” abilities in the same direction.   My question is, how can the dominants be happy with that?

 Another key aspect of all this is that usage of the word “nigger” by rainbows is part of their never-ending struggle against their much stronger and more numerous opponents, dating from slavery days, when, lacking any other means of defense and retaliation, those chained imports from Africa hit on ways to express themselves that would not be easily comprehensible to  their oppressors.   That was not hard to do, because, like the millions of George Zimmermans today, by their very nature,those oppressors were not the brightest bulbs in the world.  One way to do this was to stand language on its head and to give words meanings that were exactly opposite to how they were commonly understood

In my earliest days the most obvious instance of this was to say that something was “bad” when all the listeners of your color instantly understood that you were saying that the thing was actually “good,” and even more often it meant “great” and “fabulous.”   There were other such inversions of usage, but that is the one that pops quickest to my now ancient mind.

This standing language on its head is exactly the reason why, when applied by one rainbow to another, “nigger” can be an expression of great approval and friendship, instead of being a curse word.  It also serves the  purpose of reducing to a state of near apoplexy those who want to see that epithet having quite another effect, and this is why it is actually so laughable when someone in a comment section demands that rainbows stop using the word “nigger” altogether.   That critic has no claim to the word, especially if the bulk of his ancestors came from north of the Mediterranean.  He doesn’t own that word in any sense, because an epithet, once used, like a bullet from a gun, belongs ever afterward exclusively to the target of the fusillade, instead of to the shooter. 

This turning of things on their heads is not peculiar to rainbows, and you have to suspect the motives of those who are so outraged at any use of the word “nigger” when you have such an experience as I did, in coming from a largely rainbow world to the newly integrated Air Force in the early 1950’s, when I quickly noticed that guys of Italian descent were quite fond of referring to themselves as “dagoes.”  Before then I had been given the idea that calling somebody a “dago” was highly offensive, and I had no trouble sensing that those men didn’t accept anyone of a different ethnicity using that term in a playful or any other sense.

I didn’t run into enough Latinos or Jews to know whether they felt the same about terms like “spics” and “hebes,” but I suspect that they did, just as, if movies hold any truth, Irish guys, among each other, are not above calling themselves “micks.”  Yet, unlike the frequent cases of “the n-word,” you seldom if ever hear similar bursts of outrage on behalf of the “offended groups going up all over the media, with widespread suggestions instead of substitutes like “the d-word,”  “the s-word, “the h-word,” or “the m-word.” 

Funny, that – though not actually.  I suppose that we rainbows are supposed to feel gratified by such displays of indignation that appear to be on our behalf but actually amount to being quite the opposite.