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2/20/2009
WHEN REALITY, INTENT, AND WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY DON’T MATTER
CATEGORY: History, Media, Politics

Remember the controversy in Washington a few years back when a white aide to Mayor Williams made the mistake of saying “niggardly” when talking about the amount of federal funds allocated for some program?

Do you remember how some racialists hit the ceiling and Williams was forced to fire his aide?

Washington, DC’s black Mayor, Anthony Williams, gladly accepted the resignation of his white staff member, David Howard, because Mr. Howard uttered the word ‘niggardly’ in a private staff meeting.

Webster’s Tenth Edition defines the word ‘niggardly’ to “grudgingly mean about spending or granting”.  The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of ‘niggardly’ to the 1300’s, and to the words ‘nig’ and ‘ignon’, meaning “miser” in Middle English.  No where in any of these references is any mention of racial connotations associated with the word ‘niggardly’.

In other words, it’s a perfectly good and useful word.  But there is the unfortunate coincidence that it starts with the same four letters as the word “nigger”.  The news media are so loathe to use the “N” word, that they’ve been substituting the phrase “racial slur”, as in “…they mistook the word ‘niggardly’ for a racial slur…”

Washington, DC’s population is 60% black, and it’s citizens have been very critical of Mayor Williams for “not being black enough” — especially because he hired several well-qualified whites to help him run this troubled city.

It was a perfect example of political correctness in the media plus the conniving racial grievance mongers who knew full well that “niggardly” is a perfectly acceptable word, does not have anything to do with race, and the farthest thing from Mr. Howard’s mind when he uttered it was to make a racial slur.

Reality, intent, and Webster’s Dictionary matter little to the racialists. It is their mission in life to gin up outrage over anything that could possibly be construed as racist - even when it is clearly and definitively not.

For we are not talking about the redress of a grievances but rather the exercise of power - raw, in your face, power for power’s sake. When Al Sharpton announced that the New York Post cartoon depicting two white police officers who have just shot a chimp with the caption “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill” was worse than the “nappy headed ho” comment by Don Imus, you knew that the writing was on the wall and the New York Post was in trouble.

And, despite the fact that the cartoon had nothing to do with Obama (it referred to the recent story about a chimp that was shot dead by police after it mauled a woman), the racialists, and their white toadies who saw an opportunity to attack Post owner Rupert Murdoch, put the pedal to the metal and came out in full throated howls of outrage over this “slurring” of Obama.

Here’s the offending cartoon:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The chimp does not resemble the president which is the usual practice for racist cartoons. Besides, anyone with half a brain and who follows the news knows full well Obama did not write the bill. The cartoon refers to the fact that the chimp was mentally ill hence, the idea that the person (people) who wrote the stimulus bill - Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - should have their heads examined.

There were no lack of warnings before Obama was elected that this would be the tactic of the left to stifle dissent. I wrote at the time they would be crazy NOT to use the race card as early and often as they could. It is the most powerful political weapon the left and the Democrats have at their disposal and it is something their opponents cannot hope to counter or match.

It appears that the mostly white Huffington Post  got the ball rolling as their excellent but partisan political reporter Sam Stein wrote the initial article decrying the portrayal  of Obama in such a fashion. It was picked up by the netnuts and before you knew it, Al Sharpton was in front of the Post building carrying on about the “racial smear.”

It was all over cable news in a matter of hours. Condemnations emanated from the usual quarters in media and academia - all pretending that the cartoon was about Obama and not a crazy dead chimp who had mauled a woman.

The point had absolutely nothing to do with the cartoon but that opposition must be squashed and opponents of the administration intimidated. What surprised me is that it was done with Nazi-like efficiency. Old Joe Goebbels couldn’t have carried it off better.

Like a grotesque Kabuki dance where everyone knows their parts and what movements they should make, this self-orchestrated gaggle of left wing zealots appeared almost out of nowhere, all saying the same thing, all trying to shame the Post into a humiliating retraction. Today, they succeeded - to a certain extent:

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

The Post, I’m afraid, is dreaming. A cartoon will never be “just a cartoon” as long as there are dishonest, unscrupulous, greedy (donations to Sharpton’s personal piggy bank of an “activist group” probably surged so that the good Reverend will no doubt buy himself a couple of additional $3000 suits), and shameless partisans who will seek to use the excuse of President Obama’s race to invent, exaggerate, or or simply lie about any criticisms of the president they believe they can get away with employing the race card.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of Americans who don’t follow the news closely, they will more often than not be successful. The only way to stop this slide into authoritarianism is for the press to do its job and act as unbiased referee between those in power and those in opposition.

A vain hope given how in the tank the press is at this point for Obama.

By: Rick Moran at 10:15 am
27 Responses to “WHEN REALITY, INTENT, AND WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY DON’T MATTER”
  1. 1
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:41 am 

    A long time ago my wife and I wrote a kid’s book series that involved kids turning into animals. We had a black character turn into a gorilla. Our editor said “hold up, there, geniuses, given the particular stereotypes out there, this may be seen as offensive.” So we changed the story.

    Point being: a competent editor should have seen this coming.

    Michael Wolff the author of the book on Murdoch (The Man Who Owns The News) was on Olbermann last night saying that his sources indicate that Murdoch is furious about this. He should be. He took a hit here because his editor was an idiot.

    There’s another problem with this cartoon: it wasn’t funny. A chimp who chewed a woman’s face off is meant to symbolize who? Pelosi? Reid? Obama? All three? It was a mistake at this level as well, stupid and creepy and unfunny.

    Yes, but was it racist in intent? In reality?

    Or was the reaction to it deliberately political not because of any stereotype but because those decrying the “slur” were using it as a political club?

    ed.

  2. 2
    sara in va Said:
    11:03 am 

    Nazi-like efficiency. You’re absolutely right.

    And, taken together with the words the new administration is using to describe the American taxpayer:

    1. Selfish
    2. Childish
    3. Racist
    4. Coward
    5. Irresponsible

    It’s clear we’re being bullied into submission.

  3. 3
    mark30339 Said:
    11:27 am 

    Great post Rick. Thank God the old stereotypes are being snuffed out, unless of course you’re a trusting, post-racial white woman in a vulnerable spot: http://www.ajc.com/news/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2009/02/19/calle_0220.html Funny how the media prefers to be up in arms about a cartoon.

    Thanks Mark. And thanks for the donation too.

    ed.

  4. 4
    Cooper Said:
    11:31 am 

    Let’s do a psuedo Groundhog Day, and have the cartoonist re-draw the cartoon with two black cops as the shooters, with the same chimp and caption sentiment.

    And have a non-cowardly Post publish it, like a week or two from now, when the outrage dies down.

    And then compare.

  5. 5
    Roy Mustang Said:
    11:33 am 

    >>>Reality, intent, and Webster’s Dictionary matter little to the racialists.

    They’re not racialists, they’re just plain racists. Why do they get a special designation just because they’re black? Man up and call these racists what they are.

    Instead of calling on me to “man up” why don’t you “wise up?” This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with power. The definition of “racialist” is someone who uses race for political purposes not someone who simply hates white people.

    I accurately described Sharpton et al. And your idea of simply calling them “racists” won’t wash when you have a large number of whites who join the Sharptons of the world when stuff like this happens.

    ed.

  6. 6
    michael reynolds Said:
    11:38 am 

    No, I don’t think it was racist in intent. Not that I read minds, but I can’t imagine even a very dim cartoonist thinking, “I’ll draw a racist cartoon! That’ll be great for my career!”

    And like you I’m sick of the phony outrage business, whether it’s liberals hallucinating racist attacks or conservatives hallucinating attacks on patriotism or Jesus. We have enough real problems without looking for excuses to freak out over nothing.

    The appropriate response to this cartoon should have been a letter from the NAACP to the cartoonist and editor saying, “Dude: uncool given the realities out there. We don’t think it was intended, but still, think it through next time.”

  7. 7
    Steve Cornelius Said:
    12:34 pm 

    Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) — the highest-ranking black congressman — said opposition to the stimulus bill is “…a slap in the face of African-Americans.” He was responding to a report that four southern governors with high black populations said they were not accepting some of the stimulus money. The governors have not said they would refuse the money, but were seeing what conditions were tied to receiving the money.

    The full story is here: http://tinyurl.com/afkmmj.

    And so it goes……..

  8. 8
    lionheart Said:
    12:46 pm 

    Michael Reynolds, it seems to me that if the intent was NOT racist, then there should be nothing to “think through”. By doing that (giving consideration to how it is perceived), then you are perpetuating political correctness and enabling phony outrage.

    At what point will our society (both blacks and whites, conservatives and liberals) stop trying to read something into nothing, or more importantly, ignore as freakish aberrations, real acts of racism? Do we need to say, elect a black president? Appoint some blacks to high cabinet posts? Give blacks preferential treatment in job interviews and college entrance?

    Oh well, maybe one of these days something like that will happen.

  9. 9
    Pandora's Pencil-Box Said:
    12:56 pm 

    I find this interesting in the light of the recent comment by the new AG, describing America as “cowardly” when it comes to speaking out on race. We all might be a bit less “cowardly” if Sharpton, the PC crowd, and the MSM weren’t so eager to play the race card–whether race was ever the issue notwithstanding. False outrage seems to work as well as False Hope and False Change, unfortunately. As a country we seem so easily and emotionally manipulated by the term “racist”(or the empty rhetoric of any pseudo-messiah) it’s almost Pavlovian now. Yes, perhaps the controversy could have been foreseen and avoided–which is what political intimidation is all about anyway. The cult of Diversity and Tolerance counts on that.

  10. 10
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    12:57 pm 

    Oh well, maybe one of these days something like that will happen.

    That’s some really sweet sarcasm there. Two paragraphs of setup was a bit much, but your point that racism and inequality are over, is well taken.

  11. 11
    michael reynolds Said:
    1:08 pm 

    Michael Reynolds, it seems to me that if the intent was NOT racist, then there should be nothing to “think through”. By doing that (giving consideration to how it is perceived), then you are perpetuating political correctness and enabling phony outrage.

    Intent is not the only factor to consider. If your wife asks you if a dress makes her butt look big and you say, “It kinda does,” it was not your intention to insult her, your intention was to provide her with a valuable insight. Disconnect between intent and effect resulting in many hours of desperate backpedaling and apologies.

    I make 100% of my income writing. I always have to think about effect, I can’t just think about my intent. No professional would or should think that way. After all, our job is to communicate an idea effectively, not just to spout off and end up conveying things we didn’t mean to convey.

  12. 12
    Nick Said:
    2:17 pm 

    “The cartoon refers to the fact that the chimp was mentally ill hence, the idea that the person (people) who wrote the stimulus bill – Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – should have their heads examined.”

    How in the world does shooting a chimp(dead) full of holes suggest that Pelosi and Reid should have their heads examined? Must be conservative logic that killing the writers prompts us to re-examine the process.

    You are, for purposes of criticism, exaggerating far beyond the intent of the author of the cartoon or my intent. Do not come to this site and pretend otherwise. The thrust of the cartoon is not that the chimp is dead but that he was crazy. But you know this so it is redundant to repeat it. The “logic” is that the stimulus bill was thrown together willy nilly without much thought given to where the money was going.

    The dig at conservatives was pretty weak. If you’re going to spout talking points, go somewhere else.

    ed.

  13. 13
    lionheart Said:
    3:10 pm 

    Michael, my point is that most people (myself included, and you too, based on your anecdote about the children’s book), would never have associated the cartoon with Obama. It had to be pointed out by the racialists. When my wife asks me if her butt looks big in a dress, I am aware that the answer “it kinda does” may hurt. But I shouldn’t have to measure every word or action to see if anybody’s feelings will get hurt when I am oblivious (or possibly naive) about the effect, and especially so when those hurt feelings are manufactured for political or personal gain.

  14. 14
    shaun Said:
    3:23 pm 

    Rick, you absolutely must upgrade to digital TV before the June conversion deadline because you obviously are missing the Republican talking point-heavy guest list on cable.

    If the HuffPo was one of many outlets that make up a great authoritarian pushback against those who dare smite Obama in print, I’d say we do indeed have a problem.

    But you are making a problem where none exists, and the only slide I detect is your own standards in using a crapoid NYPost cartoon to carry your water.

    This post gets a “D.”

  15. 15
    Increase Mather Said:
    3:28 pm 

    Joe McCarthy had nothing on these people.

  16. 16
    Allen Said:
    4:23 pm 

    When I first saw this cartoon my reaction was along the lines of: one million monkeys with a million typewriters still can’t write Shakespeare.

    Given what goes on in Congress, it wasn’t such a bad metaphor to me. Maybe, just maybe, this was all this was. A bunch of crazed monkeys in Congress flinging poo at each other and proclaiming their brilliance while the artist doesn’t think so much of their final work.

  17. 17
    kyle Said:
    6:28 pm 

    The intention was not racist, but honestly, can’t you see how many people might find it racist? intent does matter, but it isn’t the end-all. Communication is about intent and form - I’m gay, but I don’t go around calling people faggot’s and then screaming “but I’m gay, so it’s ok! I don’t intend to be hateful!”

    This is a non-issue. Conservative thought is not being relegated. I agree with Shaun. Some stupid editor just isn’t worth what they’re paying him at the NY Post. Huffpost screams about everything.

    There is a happy medium here, try not to be offensive and try not to take offense if you can easily recognize that offense isn’t meant. It is that recognition that some people have a tough time with, and that’s understandable. Black people ahve historically been called monkey’s by racists, and Obama’s fingerprints are ALL OVER the stimulus. Doesn’t matter what the artist meant, get some taste. doesn’t matter what Huffpost says, they’re incendiary and looking to take offense.

    Isn’t there something more interesting to write about?

  18. 18
    Scrapiron Said:
    6:46 pm 

    The O’Dumbo lovers know the cartoon is not racist, but they need something to take the spotlight off of all the criminals he’s appointed to office, and the fact he thinks Iowa is part of Canada. Al $harpton and Je$$ie thought they saw a dollar sticking out of the dead chimps butt and they want it.

  19. 19
    Scrapiron Said:
    6:48 pm 

    Forgot. GWB must have left the government in excellent shape. All the new administration (hundreds of people) has to worry about is a cartoon.

  20. 20
    bsjones Said:
    6:57 pm 

    Rick,

    I agree. This is an excellent post.

    However, in light of all the public and private corruption that is cascading down on America at this very moment, I think this editorial cartoon controversy might just be a side show.

    Again, a great post with excellent points.

  21. 21
    michael reynolds Said:
    9:42 pm 

    lionheart:

    I actually think most people associated it with Obama, at least indirectly, and sometimes directly.

    No, ordinary people shouldn’t have to worry too much about offending this, that or the other person so long as they didn’t intend to. But this was a professional, not an ordinary person. Two professionals counting the editor. Different standards apply.

    No one should hold it against us if we can’t catch a pass in the end zone: we’re not football players. We apply a different standard to a receiver making a million bucks a season. These two guys get paid to communicate, which means they need to know what they’re communicating.

  22. 22
    Why I Find the Monkey Cartoon Objectionable | U.S. Common Sense Pinged With:
    10:22 pm 

    [...] Hubdub - “Will the shot monkey cartoon creator apologize?” Rightwing Nuthouse - “When Reality, Intent, and Webster’s Dictionary Don’t Matter” yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = “Why I Find the Monkey Cartoon Objectionable”; [...]

  23. 23
    JB "WHEELS" WEGENER Said:
    6:55 am 

    The people who wrote and printed the 200 lb chimp being shot knew exactly what they were doing !

    They knew it would get the black voters goat and they knew that their own responce to the coming Imus connection from Sharpton could be backed up by claiming it was a shot at the speaker and the one who pulls her chain and they knew that, would not float .

    A strong and good change for America is not what we got or will get from this black pres and you can see this when you look at how many people who worked for the bushes and the clintons are now working for obummer ?

    This all started a few .., bushes and clintons,… ago and is being brought togeather by obummer and the ones he is putting into office to help him continue on to turning this great country into a socialist hell hole! His number one mouthpeace recently asked..at a press meeting…, (” whats wrong with a little sicialism in this country ” ? )

    As far as I am concerned the cartoon folks can….fire for effect ! And it looks like that in the future we the people will do the same thing ?

    SFS
    Wheels

  24. 24
    JWS Said:
    10:37 am 

    Everyone gets thisclose to saying out loud what the problem is, and then backs off, for fear of being labeled a racist. We are “allowed” to, ever so gently, and in as sterile a manner as possible, discuss the damage that affirmative action, violent crime, out of wedlock births, welfare, drug use, violent “protest”, gangs, drop out rates, thought and speech “policing”, etc, are doing to this country. We have become so neutered and PC, that we have elected an absolutely unqualified, racist, Marxist, as POTUS, simply as an attempt to further placate those who, face it, will never be placated.
    We ARE a nation of cowards…

  25. 25
    Paul Said:
    11:13 am 

    I pretty much “shot my wad” over at American Thinker, where your blog post was published. I’ve not disagreed with you before, Rick, but I do on this one. I’m glad I’m not the only older guy here who knows very well that monkeys and apes was a very commonly used metaphor for Black folks - so I totally agre with you, Mike Reynolds.

    Many of the thoughts expressed here are absolutely “spot on.” But they’re addressing our (Conservatives’) well known and often expressed objections to this administration and its intents. They’re not really addressing the cartoon. Rick, I felt your historically correct comments on who actually wrote the stimulus bill, etc., are also missing the point. Whether naively, or disingenuosuly, they represent a rationalization in an effort to nullify the effect of the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons, who are only racist extortionists. But it makes us no better then they, if we act oblivious and non-chalantly defend a cartoon, the “gut” impression of which is ubiquitously and immediately apparent to Blacks and Whites - maybe only of an older generation who witnessed far more widespread and ugly discrimination against Black Americans, than some of our younger conservative commenters.

    Murdoch realized this as well. He wasn’t capitulating to Sharpton; he was honestly admitting that cartoon was really a nasty ressurection of a nasty metaphor for Black folks.

  26. 26
    Paul Said:
    11:30 am 

    Rick, I tried to send you an email, but the link to that under “Contact Me,” shows your invitation to use the “handy form below,” following which, there is no handy form - only blank space that doesn’t register attempted typed text. Have you removed the email channel to contact you?

    When I upgraded the Wordpress platform, the contact form went screwy. There’s no fix I’m told because the form is a plug in that was designed for an older version and the author hasn’t bothered to fix it in newer versions.

    Try elvenstar522@aol.com

    ed.

  27. 27
    DoorHold Said:
    2:10 pm 

    “For we are not talking about the redress of a grievances but rather the exercise of power …”

    Holy crap. With that one snippet you’ve changed the way I’m going to see such racist rants forever. (Is it original? Or have I just been missing that point?)

    I guess I can understand how a group that feels it has no power would be compelled to use a technique that empowers them in some way, even if that technique ultimately proves to be useless or even work against them. Feeling powerless means they do not believe they CAN fix their problems, so the mere exercise of power makes them feel better about their perceived situation.

    Christ people! Stop wasting your time trying to prove how powerful you can be and SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS.

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