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American Code Words
January 29, 2008 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Would you vote for an articulate horizontal-thinking Canadian? Race and religion in America defined through obfuscation.
posted by waraw (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
See also.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:22 AM on January 29, 2008


Stop saying it you racist.
posted by parmanparman at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2008


I wonder what I'm saying when I saw "You are so Argentine!"
posted by parmanparman at 7:27 AM on January 29, 2008


Somewhat related, black women are confused about whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, and upset about it, while Sen. Kennedy betrays women by endorsing Mr. Obama.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2008


Does "cosmopolitan" still mean Jewish?
posted by Phanx at 7:33 AM on January 29, 2008


Didn't we do this yesterday?
posted by koeselitz at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2008


But we added religionz, koeselitz!
posted by cashman at 7:36 AM on January 29, 2008


Does "cosmopolitan" still mean Jewish?

I always thought that was code for gay.
posted by jquinby at 7:36 AM on January 29, 2008


I thought it was code for 10 ways to drive him wild in bed.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:42 AM on January 29, 2008 [11 favorites]


Speaking as an American in Canada, yes!
posted by the dief at 7:43 AM on January 29, 2008


I remember this FPP as though it were yesterday...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:46 AM on January 29, 2008


All that was required for a clear and direct post was the word "obfuscation."
posted by Iridic at 7:47 AM on January 29, 2008


Does "cosmopolitan" still mean Jewish?

Only if you're also "rootless".
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2008


I guess this is finally our comeuppance for using the word "american" as a code-word for "asshole".

NOT AMERICANIST
posted by GuyZero at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2008


That Chicago Sun-Times article was really poorly written. I try not to judge people by external factors, but I have to admit I wasn't surprised to see that the author had an AOL account.
posted by Partial Law at 7:57 AM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


WENDELL!!!11!1!!

posted by Mister_A at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2008


Dog-whistle politics
posted by goo at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2008


What are the code words for circumcised, obese and de-clawed?
posted by The Bellman at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every time I hear something new about the presidential race, I get a little bit angrier. "Vertical Thinking" is a phrase that makes me want to punch babies.
posted by hellslinger at 8:07 AM on January 29, 2008


she's my vertical girl
she's living in her vertical world
bet she never had a horizontal guy
bet her mama never told her why...
posted by bruce at 8:10 AM on January 29, 2008


True enough, hellslinger, but, in fairness, babies make me want to punch babies.
posted by MadDog Bob at 8:10 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Bellman:
Rush, Limbaugh, oxycontin.
posted by Mister_A at 8:11 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


"At a New Hampshire coffee shop, a woman asked if she was OK. Clinton teared up, her voice quavered: "I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don't want to see us fall backward," she replied. "This is very personal for me -- it's not just political, it's not just public."

Listen to the words. "I just don't want to see us fall backward." Backward to what?

To that black man. That black man who beat Hillary. That black man who made the white woman cry. "

Am I supposed to take this seriously? Or is pure flamebait?
posted by Destroid at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2008


The problem is not the use of code words (everyone does it. There is no such thing as "urban" culture.) The problem is the thinking that leads to the selection of some words.

The problem with men proudly displaying their "vertical thinking" is that vertical thinking implies logical, linear thought that is more common among regimented males, and lateral thinking is the thought process of impulsive, emotionally driven women and male artists.

Both are stupid. Don't white people live in cities and black people live in suburbs? Of course. Don't men and women think both linearly and laterally when the problem calls for it? They should, and they should want to.

But people don't want that. People want a candidate who plays to their fixed views of the world. This is why Obama's website divides "People" by primarily very superficial identity characteristics. Not only because that's how Obama thinks of people (or at least his campaign managers), but also because many of his supporters think that way too. Hillary wants to appear "more feminine". She was already feminine. You mean she wanted to appear less driven and aggressive, because that makes uncomfortable women who are comfortable in the more "traditional woman's role". In other words, Hillary has to appeal to women who might otherwise resent her success, because she is certain she will never get the vote of men who simply resent her.

At some level, though, all of this identity pandering revolves around the worldview of middle aged white men, who feel (but are not in fact) threatened on all sides by various and sundry "others".

We need a candidate who is not afraid to tell their supporters in a polite that their worldview is stupid and idiotic. Unfortunately that isn't what we have, so now my only hope is that no one gets assassinated.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2008 [3 favorites]


At some level, though, all of this identity pandering revolves around the worldview of middle aged white men, who feel (but are not in fact) threatened on all sides by various and sundry "others".

So, uh, don't middle aged white men sometimes feel comfortable? Don't young black women (or whoever) sometimes feel threatened? If we're gonna stop conflating people's age, race and gender with their beliefs and attitudes, let's stop doing it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:22 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, yes, anyone whose worldview is based on fear of "others" deserves a bit of an adjustment, and the old white men out there with that sort of worldview sure as shit shouldn't be exempt.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:25 AM on January 29, 2008


Isn't anyone going to question our tipping this time?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:35 AM on January 29, 2008


I just read the NOW link that TheOnlyCoolTim posted upthread:

"They" are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women's money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future.

To the pea-brained sub-literates responsible for that statement, listen up. Every issue is a women's issue, get it? Payroll taxation on small businesses is a women's issue, because women own small businesses. Defense spending is a women's issue because women pay for that industry and work in it.

Furthermore, since when are children strictly feminist and women's issues? Do men not want children? Are men just supposed to leave for work before the kids get up and come home after they go to sleep, obsessively check their blackberries at home like good little worker bees and drink beer and watch football on the weekends and leave raising children to women? I guess all those sitcom depictions of men as dim-witted bumbling oafs is accurate. Please leave your Kramer v. Kramer sexual politics back in 1977 where they belong.

The last line of that statement is priceless:

a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us. Because as we see with Obama as well, a President's job is to pander to identity politics. I'm confused. Only women can know what's best for other women, because when female doctors and lawyers make decisions, they use their unique specialized genitalia instead of their brains? Is that what NOW is saying? What is the message here, exactly?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:38 AM on January 29, 2008 [9 favorites]


This is why Obama's website divides "People" by primarily very superficial identity characteristics.

Segmentation is one of the cornerstones of modern marketing. People are so used to being given a message that's just for them that any generic message turns them off and reeks of lazy marketing. Only cheap products don't segment their customers.
posted by GuyZero at 8:40 AM on January 29, 2008


Is it because I's Canadian?
posted by Mister_A at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, uh, don't middle aged white men sometimes feel comfortable? Don't young black women (or whoever) sometimes feel threatened? If we're gonna stop conflating people's age, race and gender with their beliefs and attitudes, let's stop doing it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:22 AM on January 29


Yes, you are right, I was over-generalizing. A fair point.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:43 AM on January 29, 2008


Is that what NOW is saying?

Just to make a note: That release is actually the New York State NOW. The national level (which also endorses Hillary Clinton) is embarrassed about that release.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2008


What are the code words for circumcised, obese and de-clawed?

Zionist fat-cat?

I'm here all week, folks. Tip your waiter!
posted by Avenger at 9:00 AM on January 29, 2008


I think the WP article you meant to link to was this one or this one. WP articles are sometimes useful in posts to provide background for a topic, but a) don't feel like you have to link to the WP article, just because one exists on the topic, and b) if you do, at least be sure you're linking to the right one. Don't link to Ruby if your post is about the programming language.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2008


yesterday's post was deleted, FYI.
posted by stevil at 9:14 AM on January 29, 2008


Didn't we do this yesterday?

Welcome the wonderful world of Canada. We've been mulling over Quebec separatism for thirty years and three referendums!
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 AM on January 29, 2008


pastabagel: "In other words, Hillary has to appeal to women who might otherwise resent her success, because she is certain she will never get the vote of men who simply resent her."

Something about this statement sends up red flags for me. It reeks of the whole, "a woman's greatest opponent in the work force is other women, because women are catty and try to undermine each other for no good reason," argument. Women would resent Hillary's success if she didn't "feminize" her behavior? What are you trying to say here?

I don't resent male politicians for their success.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2008


"Canadian" has apparently become a code word for blacks among American racists.

Hm. Where I'm from people inclined to say such things generally still feel comfortable using the usual terms, unfortunately. But this is good to know for future reference. I'd have been confused by it otherwise. Normally anyone north of the Mason-Dixon is "northerner." Canada, Wisconsin, doesn't matter. It's all The North. (And on the flip side, living outside the southeast, I find there's a similar view of The South.)

That first link was very interesting. I'd noticed a lot of code words being used but hadn't picked up on "vertical" and "horizontal."
posted by Tehanu at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2008


Seems like it would just be easier to not be racist.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:24 AM on January 29, 2008


How is that racist, other than the fact that it's in the Post?
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on January 29, 2008


i don't think it's racist, but it's in godawfully poor taste
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on January 29, 2008


black women are confused about whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama

Uh, turns out they all voted for Obama.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 AM on January 29, 2008


oh. ow. that Sun Times article. If you could call it that. I mean, I know they fired some editors over there. But they still have some editors, right?
posted by ninjew at 10:42 AM on January 29, 2008


Hm. Where I'm from people inclined to say such things generally still feel comfortable using the usual terms, unfortunately.

Every single time I've heard "Canadian" for "black," it's been at work. The idea seems to be, "Well, you know what I mean and I know what I mean, but we'll get fired if we say it outright." I think it's less about comfort and more about covering your ass.

(Then again, my sample could be skewed. People who talk like that, I tend to avoid when I'm off the clock.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2008


The Laura Washington piece is too poor to read.
posted by tranquileye at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2008


The etymology for 'Canadians' as a "masked replacement" for black is fairly obvious to me, even from the article. Both groups have a reputation as bad tippers. I have no reason to think the rep is justified - but I'm not a waitress in the Southern U.S.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:14 AM on January 29, 2008


I guess all those sitcom depictions of men as dim-witted bumbling oafs is accurate.

So NOW doesn't like Canadians.
posted by oaf at 11:31 AM on January 29, 2008


Once you go Canadian, you don't go back.
posted by disgruntled at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess this is nothing new for a Canadian, but I'm having an identity crisis after reading this. I just don't know who I am anymore.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:07 PM on January 29, 2008


I guess this is nothing new for a Canadian, but I'm having an identity crisis after reading this. I just don't know who I am anymore.

You have a prime minister, not a president.
posted by oaf at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2008


We need a candidate who is not afraid to tell their supporters in a polite that their worldview is stupid and idiotic.

So, like, Ron Paul?

/ObligatoryIrrelevantRonPaulMention
posted by Brak at 4:26 PM on January 29, 2008


I guess this is nothing new for a Canadian, but I'm having an identity crisis after reading this. I just don't know who I am anymore

I am glad you are not the only one. I read this article in the NP on Friday, and I couldn't figure out why there was this pool of Canadians serving in the American courts (I was thinking there was some agency or spring break ritual I had never heard of exploiting some American citizenship/legal loophole). As a Canadian (the type who lives north of the 49th), I find this more weird and confusing than racist but since my brain has trouble processing this logic - I am going to chalk it up to some bizzarro-world American subculture that speaks this way and ignore it. This whole thing seems like something Borat would report on.... does Conrad Black still own the NP?
posted by Deep Dish at 4:57 PM on January 29, 2008


So, while these questions of identity politics consume their own tails, and the nation meditates on the all-consuming issues of skin tint and genitalia, Democrats might want to pat themselves on the back for marginalizing Kucinich out of the race. Apparently, it's not race or sex that disqualifies you from the mainstream - it's voting against the Patriot Act?
posted by kid ichorous at 5:51 PM on January 29, 2008


I couldn't figure out why there was this pool of Canadians serving in the American courts

It's nearly impossible to find Americans willing to do it anymore so they've done the All-American thing and started outsourcing.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:57 PM on January 29, 2008


Canadians aren't bad tippers. We just pay our servers more in actual real wages. Not minimum wage yet, but they should get that, and then we can stop all this tipping stupidity. (if it's mandatory, as it now just about is or you're a social pariah, it's not a tip, it's a way to make the prices look artificially low).
posted by jb at 9:38 PM on January 29, 2008


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