Thursday, February 08, 2007

The articulate Barack revisited

In response to a comment on my earlier post regarding the putative racism of calling Barack Obama articulate, I decided to take a white presidential contender who had a similarly thin presidential resume and see how hard it would be to find references to that candidate as articulate. Not hard, it turns out. John Edwards, for example, is referred to as articulate here and here and here and here. It took about two minutes to find those.

In fairness to the reader, he or she is making a more nuanced claim that "when referring to a black person is that this term is normally used not in comparison to peers/competitors, but to blacks in general or to the stereotype of blacks. "

But how can we possibly know that? That's not what the President said. To suggest that this is what he "really" meant is to presume racial bad faith. People (or remarks) become racist simply because we say they are.

The Obama boom for President started after his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. People said it was good. Are we to be upset because they "must have" meant it was good only in comparison to what we'd expect from a black politician?

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty tells Alice that "[w]hen I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less." "The question is," Alice responds, "whether you CAN make words mean so many different things."

If you choose to make racism mean anything, it will come to mean nothing

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