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Chaka, When the Walls Fell.
November 13, 2007 6:14 AM   Subscribe

Reagan at Neshoba. Some time ago, a blog post was authored at Mahablog which suggested that movement politics can best be understood when their rhetoric is viewed as a series of metaphors, with an allegory made to a spectacular episode of Stark Trek: The Next Generation featuring Paul Winfield titled "Darmok". Picard and crew stumble across an alien race that speaks only in metaphor. The alien captain, frustrated by the failure to communicate, transports Picard to the surface of a planet, where they must learn to communicate or die. The alien captain does finally reach Picard, but dies as a result of his injuries battling an invisible predator. By way of comparison, examine Candidate Ronald Reagan's speech at Neshoba [audio, 57MB, via, additional context here]. Some pundits are claiming that it is an example of the Southern Strategy codified as dog-whistle politics, whilst others view it as an honest mistake, and others still find an inconvenient long sequence of other "honest mistakes".

Bonus YouTubery: The Star Trek:TNG Episode Guide Song.
posted by rzklkng (128 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shaka, When the Walls Fell was the name I'd always planned when I needed a sockpuppet.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:21 AM on November 13, 2007


MetaFilter: Reagan and Star Trek
posted by DU at 6:30 AM on November 13, 2007


Give me a break. If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved. We have some black Republicans in our local party and are actively looking for more. (this is in reference to the dog whistle link.)

All politics IS local.
posted by konolia at 6:32 AM on November 13, 2007


Also, in rebuttal I'd like to state that the "honest mistake" proponent is David Brooks. If you've ever his apologistic acrobatics on on NPR you'll know that's all the rebuttal that's needed.
posted by DU at 6:34 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved.

Oh, is that well? Shoot, we can have this thing fixed in not gonna happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:39 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


What the hell does Star Trek have to do with Republican racism? Do we need to make it silly to see it clearly?

By the way, the surface of almost all human language consists of a nearly constant stream of metaphorical speech, so embedded and naturalized that we take it for granted. Actually, it isn't "embedded" in anything, we don't "take" anything for granted or any other way in communication, there are no "streams" of speech, and they certainly have no "surface." See what I mean? The Star Trek plot device is old news to linguists.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2007


...Oh, is that ALL?...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:40 AM on November 13, 2007


If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved.

How about everybody quit the republican party instead?
posted by srboisvert at 6:41 AM on November 13, 2007


And the myth that language is primarily referential, unambiguous, and explicit communication is at the root of much that is bad about contemporary politics. Deniability - as Reagan knew -- was a powerful protection when what you had to say was really ugly, and effective.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:41 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sukat, his eyes uncovered!
posted by DreamerFi at 6:42 AM on November 13, 2007


Kind of not following you, DU. Are you arguing that Brooks's opinion is suspect because you don't like his rhetorical style? Or is there an actual problem with his argument?
posted by lodurr at 6:42 AM on November 13, 2007


Give me a break. If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved. We have some black Republicans in our local party and are actively looking for more. (this is in reference to the dog whistle link.)

Given the fact that this comment was written by konolia and the theory that the amount of information in a statement is inversely proportionate to the predictability of its contents, this statement contains no information.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:45 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Are you arguing that Brooks's opinion is suspect because you don't like his rhetorical style?

Brooks's opinion isn't suspect at all. On the contrary, Brooks's opinions are the primary source and therefore pure by definition. That's precisely the problem--he starts with an opinion and then concocts any ridiculous argument he can to prop it up. Reagan wasn't racist, therefore that speech (and hundreds of other events) didn't happen.

Not that Brooks is alone in that methodology, but he's especially bad at it. I don't know about in writing, but on NPR he continually concedes points to EJ Dionne but continues to hold onto his central thesis, sans any evidence whatsoever.
posted by DU at 6:47 AM on November 13, 2007


If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved.

Since you admit there is a problem, why are you asking blacks to join forces with racists rather than working with Democrats or some other party?
posted by DU at 6:48 AM on November 13, 2007


Since you admit there is a problem, why are you asking blacks to join forces with racists rather than working with Democrats or some other party?

She's right, you know, it's working so well for the homosexuals.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:49 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


And it turned out GREAT for the Latinos.
posted by BoringPostcards at 6:54 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


Careful Ensign konolia, your phaser is set on fuckingstuipidevenfortheinternet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


This was one of the most hilariously silly episodes of ST:TNG ever, and there were some real stinkers.

David Brooks, his pants around his ankles.
posted by cog_nate at 7:00 AM on November 13, 2007


I fucking hated that episode.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on November 13, 2007


Pardon me, my husband is a local Party official, and I do know what I am talking about. I'm sick to death of people bitching about politics and not actually participating at the grass roots level. He has reached out to black people on the local level, spoken when invited at a meeting at the local historically black state university, yadda yadda yadda.

And you don't think the local Dems aren't full of racists? Give me a break.They are just slicker about hiding it. Come on, folks, they take the black vote for granted. It's not what they say at your face people, but behind your back, down here.

Racists are everywhere but so are fair minded people.
posted by konolia at 7:09 AM on November 13, 2007


Pope Guilty, you ever heard of Log Cabin Republicans?
posted by konolia at 7:10 AM on November 13, 2007


Oh, is that well? Shoot, we can have this thing fixed in not gonna happen.

that is perhaps the greatest sentence uttered to date at mefi. stark trek, indeed!
posted by quonsar at 7:11 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


This has been a very interesting public tussle between Brooks and Krugman, it's cool that we've been able to watch it unfold so publicly. I'm surprised the NY Times let it happen like it did. Krugman pretty much won with that last blog post, but I'll be interested in seeing if Brooks has any reply. Not like it was any secret that Reagan was a slimy politician, just google Lee Atwater for all the evidence you need.

Democrats aren't totally innocent in this, what with Clinton and his "Sister Souljah" moment. That's not to defend Reagan, but to condemn Clinton.
posted by afu at 7:14 AM on November 13, 2007


Pope Guilty, you ever heard of Log Cabin Republicans?

Yes, and they're a bad joke, Stockholm Syndrome given human shape- I mean shit, I made that remark about homosexuals for a reason. Invoking the Log Cabin Republicans as an argument that the Republican Party isn't the Party of white hetero Christians is the "Some of my best friends are black" of politics.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:14 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, konolia, the Log Cabin Republicans.. a bunch of self-hating and self-deluded gays who are more interested in financial conservatism than human rights. A bunch of people who happily traffic with bigots in order to preserve their own privilege. A bunch of people who happily look the other way as fellow queers are persecuted and vilified.

Log Cabin Republicans are a fucking disgrace.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:15 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Log cabin repubs like Andrew Sullivan, you mean?

Perhaps your husband's outreach isn't working because the republican party has nothing to offer black people.
posted by notsnot at 7:16 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


States' rights! Know what I mean, eh? Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more?
posted by Bromius at 7:18 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


konolia, the point that people are making is that the GOP, since at least the 1980s, has widened its appeal by appealing to racism. This, and the Party's policies, give rise to the perception, voiced by the father of a black GOP Congressman, that "A Black man voting for the Republicans makes about as much sense as a chicken voting for Col. Sanders."

Saying, "well, if black people joined the GOP, the GOP wouldn't be racist anymore!" overlooks that dynamic.
posted by ibmcginty at 7:19 AM on November 13, 2007


And you don't think the local Dems aren't full of racists? Give me a break.They are just slicker about hiding it.

The Democrats, by and large, don't applaud open, enthusiastic racists like Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly, Savage, et al. The Democrats may have racism lurking under the surface, but the open, wanton celebration of racist filth that the Republicans wallow in is theirs and theirs alone.

Come on, folks, they take the black vote for granted.

That's not racist, it's simply an acknowledgement of the fact that, after the Civil Rights Act realignment, Nixon's Southern Strategy, and pretty much the entire presidencies of Reagan and both Bushes, not to mention the aforementioned celebration of racism that the Republicans engage in openly (and the incredible way you people expect us to believe that it's not racism- I mean shit, did you people really think anybody was going to believe that Trent Lott didn't know what he was saying?), blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic, to the point where the black Republican vote is within the margin of error. Democrats don't take the black vote for granted because they're racist, they take the black vote for granted because the Republicans take every opportunity they get to discourage minorities from voting for them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:21 AM on November 13, 2007


He has reached out to black people on the local level, spoken when invited at a meeting at the local historically black state university, yadda yadda yadda.

To be fair, I'm sure there are plenty of non-racist Republicans. Even non-racist conservatives. That said, blaming the undeniable official racism of the GOP on blacks failing to cure them of it is ridiculous. And racist.

As for your charges against Dems: 1) We are talking about institutional racism, not individuals. 2) Remove the beam from thine own eye first, then we'll talk motes.
posted by DU at 7:23 AM on November 13, 2007


Q. Post-political punditry propping up preferred perceptions?
A. Kircher and Decker at Babel.
posted by cenoxo at 7:23 AM on November 13, 2007


Im a major Krugman fan & I even agree with his thesis but this is a weak attempt to bypass Matt's "no more Krugman" edict. Flagged.
posted by scalefree at 7:25 AM on November 13, 2007


Awesome use of "Give me a break", by the way. So much easier than citing sources.

Stossel, his mustache flaring.
posted by cog_nate at 7:28 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What the hell does Star Trek have to do with Republican racism? Do we need to make it silly to see it clearly?

The meaning of the phrase that the FPP is trying to get at is actually beyond language or linguistics. Reagan at Neshoba, as in, the man giving a speech in 1980 at that specific location, is itself, even sans language, a racist statement. The location had no recognizability besides being the venue where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964. It's since become a major political venue, where racists can cryptically declare their platform. ____ at Neshoba, indeed.

Though I do I like what you're saying. Our language is abstract and metaphorical, while the ST:TNG fictional language is the opposite; it literally describes actual things, from which it directly derives meaning. It's almost a completely useless language, as if the listener lacks the knowledge of what is being described, its "words" fail to function, hence the trouble in the episode. A language completely bereft of abstraction sucks, because you can only talk to people who already know what you're talking about.
posted by mek at 7:28 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sick to death of people bitching about politics and not actually participating at the grass roots level.

Many black people do, in fact, participate at that level. They're just not on your side is all.

However weakened it may be, the GOP is still in charge of lots of things in America. Are people not allowed to have grievances with it if they're not actually part of it? If they're not part of it specifically because the party's continuing history of saying and doing things that hurt them?

You're nuts, konolia. Voting republican is in very few people's best interests to begin with, but with blacks (and gays, and more groups by the day) it's also overtly dehumanizing. And if you want to change that, the ball's in your court.
posted by Epenthesis at 7:31 AM on November 13, 2007


"The ex-Governor has used the grocery-line illustration before, but in states like New Hampshire where there is scant black population, he has never used the expression “young buck,” which, to whites in the South, generally denotes a large black man."

I'm from the south and have never heard of "young buck" being used racially. It just means young male deer to me.

There's lots to loathe about Reagan but this criticism of him sounds made up.
posted by aerotive at 7:31 AM on November 13, 2007


I'm from the south and have never heard of "young buck" being used racially. It just means young male deer to me.

You've never heard "buck" coupled with teh n-word? I'm from the North and I've heard that.

...of course, I'm from Indiana, which is the northernmost Southern state.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2007


"Young buck" was the term of choice for my racist relatives when they'd complain about young black men, the whole time I was growing up, since most of them were too polite to use the n-word, but were still racists. (My family is spread across Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.)
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2007


The Republicans are currently the party of hate and intolerance. Why a minority group would want anything to do with them is beyond me. The recent push to bring Blacks into the fold is just another example of using hatred and intolerance to build the membership ranks, this time by focusing that hatred on the gays.
posted by caddis at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2007


The Republicans are currently the party of hate and intolerance.

No, Republicans are, and always have been AFAIK, the party of the rich and powerful. They are currently using hate and intolerance as a means of attracting the necessary votes to enact their agenda (basically, just cutting taxes and axing regulations).
posted by DU at 7:46 AM on November 13, 2007


Come on, folks, they take the black vote for granted.

Yeah, that's what happens when there are only two parties and one of them is chock full of overt bigots.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:53 AM on November 13, 2007


No, Republicans are, and always have been AFAIK, the party of the rich and powerful.

Actually, the Republican party was founded by abolitionists. Lincoln was a Repbulican. No lie! That was in the 1850s. By the early 1900s though it became more the "party of business", though not necessarily big business as Roosevelt and Taft did a lot of trust-busting. But within decades of that the party was torn between the free-market business side of the Republican party, and the social progressives who had founded it. There was a whole lot of crap in between, but on the domestic side basically between the 1920s and 1960s the progressives trickled over to the Democratic party, at which point they joined with the Democrat progressives to push the civil rights agenda. Then all of the social conservatives in the Democratic party got pissed off and went and joined the social conservatives in the Republican party. And that's the Republican party we have today.
posted by schroedinger at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2007


Schroedinger, the part of the story you leave out is WHY they left the party, what happened in 1964, and what the Southern Strategy actually is...
posted by rzklkng at 8:10 AM on November 13, 2007


And you don't think the local Dems aren't full of racists? Give me a break.They are just slicker about hiding it. Come on, folks, they take the black vote for granted. It's not what they say at your face people, but behind your back, down here.

You can't be serious right? In many southern states the democratic party is probably majority black. Are they taking themselves for granted? Black people really are involved in the democratic party at all levels. We may even have a black presidential candidate next year.
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on November 13, 2007


Never attribute to malcompetence what can be explained by deliberate consistent over time repeated evil.
posted by srboisvert at 8:13 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


DU: [Brooks says that] Reagan wasn't racist, therefore that speech (and hundreds of other events) didn't happen.

Again, I'm not following you, unless you're referring to some text other than the one that was linked. Because the Brooks piece linked from the FPP was pretty clearly satirical. In fact, I found it pretty surprising in its tacit condemnation of Reagan as either a fool or a racist. I mean, I knew Brooks was not Reagan's biggest conservative fan, but this was kind of scathing.

Brooks is a strange beast. Sometimes I think he's basically forged his place in the punditocracy by simply being not scary to moderates and liberals. He's absolutely conservative, by the definitions my Conservative-party-enrolled parents would have used, but he's hardly Conservative in the way the Republican Right use the term.
posted by lodurr at 8:15 AM on November 13, 2007


BoringPostcards: ""Young buck" was the term of choice for my racist relatives when they'd complain about young black men, the whole time I was growing up, since most of them were too polite to use the n-word, but were still racists. (My family is spread across Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.)"


Maybe "young bucK" as a racist phrase is a regionalism? Either that or I'm not as culturally aware as I thought I was.

I grew up in a pretty non-racist family so maybe I was just sheltered from it.
posted by aerotive at 8:19 AM on November 13, 2007


Actually, the Republican party was founded by abolitionists. Lincoln was a Repbulican. No lie! That was in the 1850s. By the early 1900s though it became more the "party of business", though not necessarily big business as Roosevelt and Taft did a lot of trust-busting. But within decades of that the party was torn between the free-market business side of the Republican party, and the social progressives who had founded it

I wonder how much it was really "torn." The Progressives basically saved the ass of the plutocrats by winning just enough concessions to stave off street riots, and the most important and influential of the plutocrats damn well knew it -- otherwise, TR could easily have been disposed of by some "anarchist" while out on one of his daily "adventure walks."

It's also no accident that the party behind the war of the (industrial, incipiently-corporate) North against the (agrarian, less mechanized) South would tend to end with the corporatists favoring the party in control in the North. (And no, I'm not trying to dredge up the old "what was the war really about" debate.)
posted by lodurr at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2007


Because the Brooks piece linked from the FPP was pretty clearly satirical.

What makes you think it's satirical? Reagan Hagiography is pretty much a requirement in order to be a conservative pundit and Brooks is no different.
posted by afu at 8:21 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're from the south and you don't think "young buck" is a racist phrase, it really illustrates nothing to me so much as the deep denial that southerners are able to cultivate with regard to their regional history.
posted by lodurr at 8:22 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


What makes you think it's satirical?

Well, here's where I cop to poor scanning: Somehow I managed to read "Paul Krugman" as "David Brooks." Perhaps arigng dyselxia is a sign of Alzhiemres diseaes.
posted by lodurr at 8:25 AM on November 13, 2007


I'm sure the Klan would be less racist if more blacks joined too.

(Right now, the only common interests African Americans seem to have with the Republicans are gay rights and abortion, the same way that the Republicans ended up with the Catholics.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


the Brooks piece linked from the FPP was pretty clearly satirical. In fact, I found it pretty surprising in its tacit condemnation of Reagan as either a fool or a racist.

I assume you're being satirical, in that impossible-to-tell, metaMeta way, but just for the record: No, Brooks is in his usual boring dead-earnest mode. He really doesn't think Reagan was racist or trying to appeal to racists.

I grew up in a pretty non-racist family so maybe I was just sheltered from it.


Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's the case, because there's no doubt about the racist usage of buck.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on November 13, 2007


On non-preview: OK, now I see what's going on. Yeah, it would cause severe cognitive dissonance to read a Krugman column as if it were by Brooks!
posted by languagehat at 8:31 AM on November 13, 2007


to be fair, Reagan didn't burn any crosses in Philadelphia, either -- I'm emailing this little-known fact to Mr. Brooks so that he can use it for his future, inevitable shameless attempts to Photoshop that big fucking Confederate flag off of the Republican Party's Southern Strategy
posted by matteo at 8:49 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe a last few words to settle this whole "buck" debate ...

Cant you see illuminati waging quiet war
Put the blood upon the lentil and the post of your door
We're waiting for new world order to come
Baby cant you see its here and almost gone

Mama's little baby is the backbone of that order
And no not kinda sorta making dough for the man
Whipping that big black buck again

And every time we buy into this criminal society
We whip that big black buck again and bring him down to his knees


-- Donnie, "Big Black Buck" (from 2003's The Colored Section) (more and more)
posted by grabbingsand at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2007


Nobody ever calls me Buck. I should point out that I have heard "buck" used frequently as both a noun and a verb by black people. As a noun, it's usually mildly derogatory and usually directed at another black man, and it is frequently modified by "young". It's used to establish that the target is a big strong hot-headed lunk, whereas the speaker is older, wiser, and more refined.

When used as a verb it's complimentary. Implies tenacity, power, and prowess.

And yes, it would pretty much always be racist for a white guy to use this in a speech.
posted by Mister_A at 8:54 AM on November 13, 2007


Pope Guilty: "Democrats don't take the black vote for granted because they're racist, they take the black vote for granted because the Republicans take every opportunity they get to discourage minorities from voting for them."

Get your facts straight. Democrats take the black vote for granted because they're simpering, boot-licking politicians who, in their arrogance and eagerness to win votes, act pompously as though they have a monopoly on political correctness. Not because they're racist.

And Republicans, despite latent racism, don't seek the black vote because of it; they're just eager to retain whatever is left of their iron grip on whatever power can make them the most money.

The world would be a better place without either. Sorry konolia.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't believe how much disdain I'm seeing in this thread. People, listen, you're all missing the central issue here:

The point of the episode is NOT that languages are interesting and metaphors are a central part of speech. The point is that we get to see Picard breeze back onto the bridge at the end, casually push his Number One aside while Riker's all "BUH DUH LANGUAGE HA HA WHAT?" and effortlessly toss off enough phrases to avoid interstellar war. If you're watching the episode for any other reason than to see Commander Stolid get his comeuppance, then I'm afraid I just don't know what to tell you.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:05 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmm, it is true that Riker is a dick. Your words have wisdom.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on November 13, 2007


lodurr: "If you're from the south and you don't think "young buck" is a racist phrase, it really illustrates nothing to me so much as the deep denial that southerners are able to cultivate with regard to their regional history."

I learned from this FPP/thread that young buck is a racist phrase and accept it as such. My not knowing a particular usage of this phrase prior to today says very little about anyone else, southerner or else.
posted by aerotive at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2007


Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's the case, because there's no doubt about the racist usage of buck.

Saying that it's primarily or even largely used as a racist term, though, isn't at all accurate.
posted by oaf at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2007


lodurr, my impression is the Progressives in the party were in favor of Roosevelt's New Deal, and the businesspeople emphatically were not. I could very well be wrong, though.
posted by schroedinger at 9:19 AM on November 13, 2007


Schroedinger: And?
posted by lodurr at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2007


aerotive: It could also be a sign of ignorance of one's own regional culture. Which wouldn't be surprising if you grew up in a major city. But having been raised by southerners and having spent time in the south as a child, I've always been quite aware of their ability to recast their own history into a form they're comfortable with.
posted by lodurr at 9:34 AM on November 13, 2007


Saying that it's primarily or even largely used as a racist term, though, isn't at all accurate.

"Young buck"? Outside of a context of deer-hunting? And in a state where it was in the memory of locals a term with decidedly racist usages? And when the same term wasn't used in places where it had no such history?

Sounds racist to me.
posted by lodurr at 9:36 AM on November 13, 2007


I loved that Mahablog post, but didn't connect it to this debate over Reagan. Good post, rzklkng.
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2007


Lee Atwater on Reagan's version of the Southern Strategy:
You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' - that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me - because obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this,' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'Nigger, nigger.'
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


President Bush uses coded words, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:46 AM on November 13, 2007


...and coded flooding of cities.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I didn't know the racists connotations of "young buck" (and I'm sure I've used it to describe friends favorably) and it took me a long time to realize that "states rights" didn't mean simply "less federal oversight" but instead "more Jim Crow". That's why they're code words, right? I don't see the point in calling other mefites ignorant or racist.

I probably only realized "strict constructionist" has a hidden meaning because I've watched the term develop.

I'm not interested in the NY Times editorial page fight, but I would love to hear more examples of these code words.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:05 AM on November 13, 2007


If you're from the south and you don't think "young buck" is a racist phrase, it really illustrates nothing to me so much as the deep denial that southerners are able to cultivate with regard to their regional history.

I'm from Texas, and for all that self-knowledge is imperfect, I don't think I've cultivated a deep denial about regional history. I've always construed "young buck" just to mean "strapping male" and never thought further about it. Young Turks needn't be Turkish, young firebrands needn't carry flaming torches, and young bucks needn't be horned ungulates. For what it's worth, the Oxford American dictionary offers a definition of "a fashionable and typically hell-raising young man" before the "informal offensive a black or American Indian man" and that's largely how I've understood and used the term. I've never noticed anyone suffering from waves of cognitive dissonance when I've referred to white men as young bucks, but maybe none of my friends savvy the code either.

And of course I'm aware that "buck" was commonly used to describe black men. Historically, one finds it in slave auction notices, owners' wills, descriptions of runaways, etc. In that context, it's a from the lexicon of livestock breeding, and is without a doubt offensive and dehumanizing. More recently, I can easily imagine a sweaty-browed, red-faced, cigar-smoking, seer-sucker wearing Southern white man decrying civil rights advances and referring to dangerously uppity buck nigras. But, inferring that particular definition of "buck" is, for me, highly contextual, and without a number of other cues I would read "young buck" to be a completely race-neutral construction.

Point being that while "young buck" may be an offensively racist term, I was unaware of it until this thread. It meant as much to me as "young lion," another fairly common animal metaphor for a vital young man. Taking that as proof of some kind of deep denial does Occam's razor a disservice. Isn't ignorance that a secondary definition of a term has gained primacy within a particular cultural context a simpler explanation than that the speaker has purposefully cultivated an ignorance of slavery, racism, the civil rights struggle, and ongoing social injustices?
posted by mumkin at 11:12 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


And mounting the high dudgeon over "illustrates for me nothing to me so much as the deep denial that southerners are able to cultivate" strikes me as a bit of an over-reaction.
posted by lodurr at 11:38 AM on November 13, 2007


Apparently, "Teach the Controversy" could qualify as coded language. To me, anyway. But not racist.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:41 AM on November 13, 2007


I'm from rural Tennessee and I had only heard this term used to describe deer before. Reagan's comment sounds transparently racist to me, but maybe that's just because the use of the welfare system by black people is something I've heard Republicans bitch about many times.

I can say that "Darmok" has made me fervently, unabashedly racist against Tamarians.
posted by zebra3 at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2007


Good god, this event happened 35 years ago. And these boring NYT op/ed folks can't stop writing about it? When the lunatic from their own hometown is going to win the Republican nomination?

That said, Bob Herbert's rant is righteous. And David Brooks rebuttal informs.
posted by Nelson at 12:05 PM on November 13, 2007


If you're from the south and you don't think "young buck" is a racist phrase, it really illustrates nothing to me so much as the deep denial that southerners are able to cultivate with regard to their regional history.

Jesus, can't we as a nation take some comfort in the fact that some of us in the most recent generation of adults raised in the deep south have grown up completely unaware of nasty racist code-uses of certain words and phrases in the past? Shouldn't that be a good thing? I mean, you can call it "denial of regional history," but it seems a lot to me like refusing to pass along hateful attitudes from a shameful past.

FWIW: My only familiarity with the use of "buck" to describe a person prior to this thread:
I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
Words of self-description from the extremely non-black Don McLean, blasted from the family station wagon stereo on every family road and beach trip of my childhood
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:41 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck


That is a version of the third verse of "The Time Warp" that I am unfamiliar with. Is it from the Apocrypha?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:44 PM on November 13, 2007


"but I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died"

posted by konolia at 12:53 PM on November 13, 2007


"Young buck"? Outside of a context of deer-hunting?

i don't think the phrase "young buck" is that common in deer hunting - up here in michigan, it tends to be "x-point buck" - 6-point buck, 7-point buck and so on - the more points on the antlers, the bigger and older the buck

it's a racist phrase
posted by pyramid termite at 12:55 PM on November 13, 2007


Things are changing here in the south but if you don't think that EVERY politician no matter what party didn't pander to white racists down here you're full of crap. Doesn't matter how they personally feel about people of color. Republican, democrat, independent, nonpartisan race-didn't matter. You had to suck up to the racists if you wanted to get elected, period. Because they had the money.

But times are changing and I am grateful.

By the way, a party only represents what the majority of its people want. Now's a great time for black people interested in political power to get involved in Republican politics. You WILL get attention and will NOT be taken for granted. You don't like what we stand for? Come change it.

As far as Democrats, I used to be one but I cannot stomach a party that thinks killing unborn infants is an acceptable practice. Don't tell me you care about people if you don't care about the most helpless ones.
posted by konolia at 1:00 PM on November 13, 2007


always racist? - probably not
potential for being racist - pretty damn high
as used by Reagan - highly likely he meant young "black" buck, thus, racist
posted by caddis at 1:02 PM on November 13, 2007


Did you have to go drop a dead-baby deuce in this thread, konolia? Really?
posted by mek at 1:06 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: That is a version of the third verse of "The Time Warp" that I am unfamiliar with. Is it from the Apocrypha?

Unfortunately rejected by the First Council of Weissaea

(kind of weak, apologies)
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:12 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"You WILL get attention and will NOT be taken for granted. You don't like what we stand for? Come change it."

You WILL be spotlighted for television audiences, you will NOT be more important than Alan Keyes.

Don't like the anti-gay message of the Republican party? Have sex in mensrooms!
posted by klangklangston at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tavis, when the candidates declined!
posted by zebra3 at 1:40 PM on November 13, 2007


Things are changing here in the south but if you don't think that EVERY politician no matter what party didn't pander to white racists down here you're full of crap.

You learn something new every day.

Those times when Cynthia McKinney was pandering to white racists with her crazy-eyes on must have involved a lot of awkward silences and embarrassed glances, kind of like Donny propositioning Marie.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow Konolia, I didn't think your argument could get anymore unhinged, but boy did you prove me wrong.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:25 PM on November 13, 2007


You don't like what we stand for? Come change it.

actually, a lot of people have been waiting for you to do that yourselves - and seeing as y'all haven't, why should anyone who disagrees join you?

As far as Democrats, I used to be one but I cannot stomach a party that thinks killing unborn infants is an acceptable practice.

oh - do you remember what you said about the democrats taking black people for granted?

guess who the republicans take for granted? - they talk and talk a fine game but nothing ever gets done about abortion, does it?

i bet you'd LOVE to know what the bigshots say about y'all in those smoke filled rooms in washington

there was a time when evangelicals knew the folly of getting involved in worldly matters - you remember people saying that, don't you? - and it's not so much that it's a snare for believers - but that unbelievers will take advantage of you and do things that discredit you and what you believe

check your nearest airport bathroom for details

this is what happens when religion gets mixed up with politics - you get insincere people promising to "clean things up" for the believers and once people see through it, it not only discredits them, it discredits the believers, too

time to ask yourself if the people representing you are really representing you - time to ask yourself why you think caesar is going to render unto the lord when he's already busy rendering unto himself - you can't serve two masters - and yet, isn't that what they claim to be doing when they run for political office on a "family values" platform? - can people really serve the system AND god?

the people you support put the system first - don't you see that?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:17 PM on November 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


If the Republicans didn't ban abortion with a two-term Republican president, Republican-controlled Congress, and Republican-controlled Supreme Court, when are they going to? They're not. They're just playing people for suckers and using the issue as a club to beat up Democrats with.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:48 PM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


"As far as Democrats, I used to be one but I cannot stomach a party that thinks killing unborn infants is an acceptable practice. Don't tell me you care about people if you don't care about the most helpless ones."

Lady, are you for real?
posted by black8 at 3:49 PM on November 13, 2007


Lady, are you for real?

She's against abortion. Are you unaware that such people exist? Or did you think they were stopped at the border of MetaFilter?
posted by languagehat at 4:07 PM on November 13, 2007


Things are changing here in the south but if you don't think that EVERY politician no matter what party didn't pander to white racists down here you're full of crap.

Screw "used to", your party STILL DOES, AND PUBLICLY.

You had to suck up to the racists if you wanted to get elected, period. Because they had the money.

If times have really changed, why are the Republicans still doing it? Force of habit?

By the way, a party only represents what the majority of its people want.

The Democratic leadership in Congress puts the lie to this.

Now's a great time for black people interested in political power to get involved in Republican politics. You WILL get attention and will NOT be taken for granted. You don't like what we stand for? Come change it.

You cannot be this disconnected from reality.

As far as Democrats, I used to be one but I cannot stomach a party that thinks killing unborn infants is an acceptable practice. Don't tell me you care about people if you don't care about the most helpless ones.

Big words from a death penalty supporter.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:28 PM on November 13, 2007


the people you support put the system first - don't you see that?

Or their own career interests. But it amounts to the same thing.

As to what they say in smoke-filled rooms...
Consider this recent exchange between conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson and Chris Matthews on the "Chris Matthews Show" as to how the GOP views it evangelical base:

Carlson: The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power.

Matthews: How do you know that?

Carlson: Because I know them. Because I grew up with them. Because I live with them. They live on my street. Because I live in Washington, and I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the evangelicals. And the evangelicals know that, and they're beginning to learn that their own leaders sort of look askance at them and don't share their values.

Matthews: So this gay marriage issue and other issues related to the gay lifestyle are simply tools to get elected?

Carlson: That's exactly right. It's pandering to the base in the most cynical way, and the base is beginning to figure it out.

There also David Kuo, who served as special assistant to the president from 2001 to 2003 and self described conservative Christian, has authored a book entitled "Tempting Faith," scheduled for release until Oct. 16.

Kuo contends that evangelical leaders were known in the office of the president's political strategist Karl Rove as "the nuts." "National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Kuo writes.
posted by ibmcginty at 4:45 PM on November 13, 2007


More from Bob Herbert: Righting Reagan’s Wrongs?
posted by homunculus at 6:37 PM on November 13, 2007


I'm from the UK and Canada but, probably from NYC newspapers, "young buck" means "young black male".

In fact, it has to me somewhat more specific connotations -- a powerfully-built, dark-skinned black man ("football player").

Konolia... I'm aghast. "If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved."

I think you're very honest -- but I think you're deeply misguided. You say the Democrats are as racist as the Republicans. Can you give the slightest evidence? We've named half a dozen prominent conservatives who are openly racist -- can you name one lemocrat? If we discount "the problem of Israel" (where even there most people are careful to distinguish "Israel" and "the Jews"), can you name even a fringe candidate?

For me and a hundred million other Americans, the Republican party are the criminals behind a war for nothing that has resulted in almost million deaths and and well over a trillion dollars wasted. The problem isn't going to be solved if we give up on morality and rationality and join your gang: we need to jail the party's leaders for the warcrimes they have committed right in front of us, discredit the ideas behind it with the results that are apparent to almost everyone in the world today.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:50 PM on November 13, 2007


I'm from the UK and Canada but, probably from NYC newspapers, "young buck" means "young black male".

In fact, it has to me somewhat more specific connotations -- a powerfully-built, dark-skinned black man ("football player").

Konolia... I'm aghast. "If black citizens would come out and join the local Republican parties and participate, problem would be solved."

I think you're very honest -- but I think you're deeply misguided. You say the Democrats are as racist as the Republicans. Can you give the slightest evidence?

We've named half a dozen prominent conservatives who are openly racist -- can you name one liberal? If we discount "the problem of Israel" (where even there most people are careful to distinguish "Israel" and "the Jews"), can you name even a fringe candidate?

For me and a hundred million other Americans, the Republican party are the criminals behind a war for nothing that has resulted in almost million deaths and and well over a trillion dollars wasted. The problem isn't going to be solved if we give up on morality and rationality and join your gang: we need to jail the party's leaders for the warcrimes they have committed right in front of us, discredit the ideas behind it with the results that are apparent to almost everyone in the world today.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:50 PM on November 13, 2007


(sorry for the double post, no idea how that happened...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:51 PM on November 13, 2007


Yeah, I know how my own party looks on evangelicals. I find it sad when fellow Christians think that the solution to all ills is thru the political process. I certainly don't feel that way. Most Christians in politics weird me out.

My own husband is simply a political guy who happens to be a Christian. Which is why I can stand him being active in politics to begin with.


I feel that government needs to be about making sure we have roads and schools and protection from our enemies. Too much political posturing on both sides has nothing to do with what I think the real true work of government should be. We the common average people have refused to participate in the process leaving both parties to be controlled by the political hacks on both sides-people more interested in their own power and their own interests than serving our country. I happen to feel that the Republican platform has more merit than the Democratic on things I feel strongly about-not to say that the Democrats don't hold the high ground on other things.
posted by konolia at 7:16 PM on November 13, 2007


lupus-yonderboy, come down here to the South and let me introduce you to all the rich White Democrats and let you come to your own conclusions.
posted by konolia at 7:17 PM on November 13, 2007


Yeah, there are rich white democrats everywhere, and they vote against their own economic interest all the time to help those less fortunate than themselves. John Edwards is the classic example.
posted by caddis at 8:09 PM on November 13, 2007


"I feel that government needs to be about making sure we have roads and schools and protection from our enemies."

In all seriousness, why? Why those three things? What do they represent?
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 PM on November 13, 2007


Yeah, there are rich white democrats everywhere, and they vote against their own economic interest all the time to help those less fortunate than themselves. John Edwards is the classic example.
posted by caddis at 11:09 PM on November 13 [+


You forget, I'm from North Carolina.

Here's a link you might find interesting, considering the original posting.

I also turned up this:

John Edwards: Dixiecrat
Posted Sep 28th 2007 6:41PM by Scott
Filed under: President 2008, Democrats, John Edwards, Race

John Edwards got himself in some hot water yesterday, although I'd be shocked if you read it in tomorrow's paper:

"We cannot build enough prisons to solve this problem. And the idea that we can keep incarcerating and keep incarcerating - pretty soon we're not going to have a young African-American male population in America. They're all going to be in prison or dead. One of the two."

Now imagine if Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney had said something akin to that.

NRO makes it clear that the African-American community is not all Bloods/Crips, Kanye West/50-Cent and Glock/Mac-10 but is a community that is sending their children to college and making great inroads. Of course we have inner city violence and that is more of a cultural issue hat must be addressed but Edwards made a huge mistake here, even more than the mistake the prominent GOP candidates made by not attending the debate last night.

Edwards sounds a bit Dixiecratish. For those who think the GOP is the party of racists, do yourself a favor and read of current Senator Robert Byrd's KKK Kleagle days or the fact that Al Gore's father was anti-civil rights. Educate yourself on where the parties history on racism lies.


If you do as I did and google John Edwards racist you will find all kinds of little tidbits.
posted by konolia at 8:49 PM on November 13, 2007


You're saying that John Edwards is a racist because he thinks that we lock up too many young black men?? Huh?
posted by octothorpe at 8:53 PM on November 13, 2007


"We cannot build enough prisons to solve this problem. And the idea that we can keep incarcerating and keep incarcerating - pretty soon we're not going to have a young African-American male population in America. They're all going to be in prison or dead. One of the two."

What's racist about that? Black Americans get arrested and jailed at a much greater rate than white Americans, get more severe sentences for exactly the same crimes as Whites, ad nauseum.

Believing that African-Americans have equal treatment under the law, that's racist.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:01 PM on November 13, 2007


If you click on that first link, then perhaps you will ask along with me why there were no people of color in his campaign ad.
posted by konolia at 9:04 PM on November 13, 2007


If you do as I did and google John Edwards racist...

...then you find nothing of significance at all.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:10 PM on November 13, 2007


perhaps you will ask along with me why there were no people of color in his campaign ad.

In one specific ad of many. Is this the best you can do?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:11 PM on November 13, 2007


This time of night, yes.

North Carolina has a sizeable African American population. You'd think ONE of them could have made it onto an ad.
posted by konolia at 9:16 PM on November 13, 2007


Iowa is 94.9% white, so it's not especially surprising that a commercial directed at Iowans looks like most of the people in Iowa.

It's ironic that a post that says to "educate yourself on where the parties history on racism lies" is so ignorant about who the Dixiecrats were and how the Republicans embraced the racists when they left the Democratic party. You didn't link the second post; was it because it links to a ridiculous claim that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican? (Why did Reagan initially oppose establishing a holiday in his honor?)

I feel that government needs to be about making sure we have roads and schools and protection from our enemies.

Well, this Republican government let an American city get destroyed on their watch, and not only failed to protect us against two terrorist attacks (9/11 and anthrax), they failed to punish the people behind the attacks.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2007


North Carolina has a sizeable African American population. You'd think ONE of them could have made it onto an ad.

You'd think candidates don't personally create all their own advertising or something.

Seriously, konolia. Your party is killing thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis, and recently went out of its way to prevent poor children from seeing doctors. If abortion weighs so heavily on the scales that you think you still have the moral high ground here, you're seriously delusional. (Particularly since republicans pursue policies that have indirectly caused abortion rates to skyrocket.)

Adults can be killed at whim and children can die by neglect, but God forbid a six-week fetus or brain-dead woman not be kept alive as long as humanly possible.
posted by Epenthesis at 9:48 PM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


This time of night, yes.

So what you're saying is that you smeared a political candidate as a racist without the slightest evidence.

"Just making things up" is not a basis for reasoned discussion.

By the way, Epenthesis, the "excess mortality" in Iraq is definitely in the hundreds of thousands and will probably exceed one million -- in a population of about 25 million, the size of the greater New York City area.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:27 PM on November 13, 2007


Right, I actually had that order of magnitude in my head and for some reason typed the smaller one.
posted by Epenthesis at 12:24 AM on November 14, 2007


Scratch what I said about Edwards. I was posting while tired and angry about something else.

There are tons of white southern Democrats who are either casually racist or don't mind catering to racists. But hopefully the breed is dying out.

For what it's worth I don't defend all the actions of my party either. If I wasn't married to my hubs I'd be standing on the sidelines of both parties and throwing brickbats, most likely.

Sorry.
posted by konolia at 4:46 AM on November 14, 2007


Guys, seriously, why do you bother trying to argue with a deluded bigot? Even I've given up.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:32 AM on November 14, 2007


Konolia, why don't you convince your hubby to throw brickbats, instead of dutifully following him into supporting a bunch of oligarchs?
posted by notsnot at 3:34 PM on November 14, 2007


Konolia is no bigot and that kind of talk is just irresponsible.
posted by caddis at 4:53 PM on November 14, 2007


Konolia, why don't you convince your hubby to throw brickbats, instead of dutifully following him into supporting a bunch of oligarchs?

He pretty much sticks with state and local stuff, not national. FWIW Bush is not real popular right now on our local county level.
posted by konolia at 6:39 PM on November 14, 2007


If I wasn't married to my hubs I'd be standing on the sidelines of both parties and throwing brickbats, most likely.

so we're arguing with your husband with you acting as proxy?

that's too lame to bother with
posted by pyramid termite at 6:43 PM on November 14, 2007


No, I'm wasting time on a website arguing halfheartedly about a topic while hubs watches tv.

And you?
posted by konolia at 7:25 PM on November 14, 2007


Oh, lets talk about strapping young bucks some more, and whether ignorance = racism, shall we? That was much more fun. Ah, it's morning in America again.
posted by mumkin at 11:12 PM on November 14, 2007


lupus-yonderboy, come down here to the South and let me introduce you to all the rich White Democrats and let you come to your own conclusions.

That's... that's one bizarre shot you're taking there.
Hey, let me introduce you to some people who, despite having more to lose, support a party that believes in higher taxes, public welfare, government run deficit services, pension funds, the inheritance tax, and on a good day, even health care.

Yeah, please do. I'd like to shake their hands.

I happen to feel that the Republican platform has more merit than the Democratic on things I feel strongly about

I'd like to see that list.
posted by dreamsign at 12:57 AM on November 15, 2007


Also: terrible episode.
posted by dreamsign at 12:58 AM on November 15, 2007


mumkin: Ah, it's morning in America again.

And I love the smell of ... something ... in the morning.
posted by lodurr at 6:33 AM on November 15, 2007


dreamsign: Are you nuts? One of the better eps evar, dude! So much more interesting than the OT episode it riffed on. Clearly you are worse than Hilter and your opinions are of no value.

kid 1: Oh, look. It's that cannonball dude. He's cool.
kid 2: Are you being serious or sarcastic?
kid 1: I don't even know anymore.

posted by lodurr at 6:36 AM on November 15, 2007


So, konolia, we presume you will absolutely refuse to support pro-choice Rudy Giuliani should he receive the nomination for your party?

There are pro-choice republicans, many of them. And anti-abortion democrats, many of them.

Besides, if the republican party was *really* anti-abortion, and not just pandering to the mob with bread and circuses and lofty talk, abortion would already be illegal in the US. The relationship between its platform and its principles is one of convenience.

As is true for most political parties most of the time, actually.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:51 PM on November 17, 2007


fourcheesemac, you are right, I do not support Giuliani. If he gets the nomination I will be pretty ticked.

And I know there are Prolife Democrats. I used to be one.
posted by konolia at 5:04 PM on November 17, 2007


You go Konolia. I don't agree with your political opinions, but I do defend your right to express them. I also miss your posts to your blog. You are a most interesting person and you don't really spill your guts here like you used to.

You seem sort of like jonmc, what you see is what you get. Your online persona is the unvarnished truth, without a lot of posing, preening, careful positions and all the like that most of us put forward. It makes you both easy to love. A lot of people will give you crap because they disagree. Please keep truckin'.
posted by caddis at 7:06 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


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