The latest brouhaha over Washington Redskins’ offensive lineman Trent Williams’ purported use of the infamous N-word in lashing out at umpire Roy Eillison (who, like Williams, is black) during a game with the Philadelphia Eagles is just another in an endless stream of incidents that keep this accident-of-history colloquialism alive and well.
A visitor from another galaxy might be puzzled as to why Americans are so obsessed with a seemingly simple word. But the N-word has an ugly history, a history that can be traced to the Latin word “niger,” meaning black. Certainly nothing ugly in that, right? From there it evolved into the word negro, still a seemingly harmless word.
But the evolution from there is not so harmless. It is generally believed that “negro” evolved into the N-word as a result of the drawl of white Southerners, which caused them to mispronounce it. That’s where the harmlessness ended, as the word became attached to a race of people who were subjected to humiliation and slavery.
Even so, one would have thought that the N-word would have faded into the marred pages of human history by now, given that slavery in the United States was abolished nearly 150 years ago. So why is the word talked about more today than ever?
I believe the reason it is so difficult for many people to let go of the N-word is that it has taken on a life of its own. The problem isn’t racism. Except for an unknown but clearly very small percentage of the population, America moved beyond racism decades ago. Even the Jim Crow laws so ferociously promoted and protected by white Southern Democrats are but a distant, unpleasant memory.
Nevertheless, there is still a large number of nefarious people who keep the N-word alive because they have found, to their delight, that they can profit handsomely by nurturing the idea that racism is alive and well in America. Racism and, more specifically, the N-word are glorified by hip-hop thugs, relentlessly pushed to the forefront by race hustlers in their quest for ever more power and money, and shamelessly invoked by left-wing politicians as one of an array of tools to help them stay in office.
The pretension of the latter two groups is that they are protectors of black people who continue to be victimized by millions of whites who actually want them to fail. And the safe haven they offer these purported victims is the federal government’s welfare plantation.
Ironically, the election of America’s first (half) black president gave new life to the false claims of racism in America, which is a bit nutty considering that his election was made possible by the votes of white Americans. But let me make it clear that I don’t for a second believe Barack Obama himself is particularly hung up on race, which is probably why blacks have ended up being so much worse off since his rise to power.
No, Obama’s focus is strictly on ideology. He is a committed ideologue who sincerely believes that redistribution of wealth is good for America. By and large, it’s Obama’s passionate followers who continually raise the issue of race, promoting the notion that any resistance to his socialist policies are a result of white people’s hatred for him because of his color.
Again, given the fact that he was elected not once, but twice, by a white-majority population, it’s an absurd claim, but they continue to use it for one reason and one reason only: It works!
So, even though millions of people of all colors are experiencing N-word fatigue, it is not likely to go away anytime soon. There is far too much profit in the exploitation of white guilt for that to happen.
Personally, I don’t give the N-word special significance, because what it really gets down to is not race, but uncivilized behavior. And uncivilized behavior includes vulgar and pejorative language.
The N-word is vulgar. So is the F-word, the C-word, and a whole bunch of other words that come out of the mouths of those who lack dignity and couth. Martin Bashir’s recent vulgar remarks about Sarah Palin is a classic example of this.
Believe me, I’m not naïve. I realize that people aren’t perfect, so an occasional slip is understandable. I recall negotiating a business deal some years back with a doctor who happened to live in Kentucky, and at one point during our phone conversation, while talking price, he said to me, “Look, I don’t want you to think I’m trying to Jew you down, but …” This was a doctor talking! I just shook my head and let it pass.
I gave up policing other people’s words and actions decades ago. Instead, I prefer to abide by the HIP philosophy — humor, ignore, part ways. Unfortunately, there are millions of people — absolute moralists — who do want to police the words and actions of others, and they cause a lot of problems in the process.
The truth is that those who profit from racism do not want the N-word to die. To their delight, they have found that because millions of Americans (both black and white) have no clue that they are being played for fools, the so-called race card can be dealt again and again with predictable results.
One last point: For a long time now, the big debate over the N-word has been whether whites should be “allowed” to use it since so many blacks mouth it without hesitation. The answer is: of course! A person who is truly free should be allowed to use any words he so desires. It’s called free speech.
An American should also be free to use the F-word, the C-word, and words like kike, spic, and dago. But the more important question is, what kind of person would want to use any of these words? Answer: The kind of person I go out of my way to avoid — and I hope you do, as well.
Let’s face it, you can’t fundamentally transform a cesspool society into a civilized culture overnight, but you do have the power of choice when it comes to making yourself a more civilized person — and guiding your children in the same direction. If each of us concentrated on that single objective, perhaps someday — far down the road — the tide would begin to turn in the direction of a more enlightened and civilized America.