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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Racist Epithets and Their Relative Merits

They're most useful in their casual disregard of human worth. The best are more dismissive than contemptuous. Contempt implies a person still matters. After dehumanization, it's about ugliness and hatred. Then thoughtlessness -- not the same as the aforementioned casual disregard. It boils down to overall effectiveness, us above them, me over you. How much rage can I engender, how provoking can I be, while of course remaining safe.

So, in no particular order, I like jiggaboo. The stupidity of the sound of the word imputes to the object. Comes from a Bantu word meaning servile. You can see how it came into usage. One slave mocking another, and the term is generalized. Lesson: don't be an enemy to your friends, because real enemies are listening. As for nigger, it's gigantic -- holds so much hatred. Amazing to me how the niggas use the word so casually. But then, that's how they treat their women too. Porchmonkey. Groid. Is there a zoid and a loid to go along with groid? Sambo is good, because it's ridiculous.

Slurs outside of our own culture don't really matter. Abo in Austrailia. I lived there for some years, and got the sense that abo was very vulgar, but it doesn't mean anything to me. Same with pom, someone from England. Apparently it's offensive. Wog is good, if obscure. Westernized Oriental Gentleman -- generally of South Asians. I seem to recall that it was the same guy who explained all these terms to me. He was a pom. Kaffir, South African for black, is a fighting word. We'd only care about it because of the emotion behind it. No one wants to be held in contempt.

Kraut, mick, frog, Polack, canuck -- not even about race. Might as well be Yank. Do nations even count, anymore? Dink and gook and chink and flip, limey and guido -- aren't these almost just historical terms, like fuzzy-wuzzy? Words from movies and childhood. Dago is good, and so is wop. But it's the neighborhoods we live in that make them matter. Kike is still good. Hymie seems a tad regional, a Jesse Jackson word. Christ-killer is cheap. Beaner is rude enough to still matter. Wetback is a little too geographic. Spick is good -- those sharp, one-syllable words carry a lot of weight.

Terms based on physical features are too obvious to be powerful. Sure, the kid with the difference gets made fun of. It's a sort of racism, but infantile. In a yard full of white chickens, the one with the spot will get pecked to death. Hey, blondie! I didn't even know bohunk was racial. There aren't any racist terms against whites that bother me. Honky? Gringo? Haole? Redneck? White trash? It's only the emotion behind it that matters. Ghostface seems rude, not because of the white but the pale -- pale is weak. Roundeyes seems too much like it's translated from some other language. Insults should be direct -- racist insults, that is.

I know a young fellow who was picking out a sticker to give to a small child. Hm, maybe this one, this cute little monkey? And five minutes later the mother, who had been sitting there, fuming, came up to him and said she was deeply offended by his racism, and he was lucky her husband wasn't there or there'd be a fight. She must think her race looks like monkeys.

Mongrel or mutt are racist to the core, but not against any particular race. Which gets to the point. That we're not all equal in our human worth. That one group is better than another because of something other than character and conduct. In this way, racism is a self-refuting concept. All racists are inferior.

Next time we'll discuss sexist terms. Starting with cunt.


J

2 comments:

bob k. mando or the peckerwood said...

for instance, i don't have a problem with this essay.

am i supposed to deny that minorities are often some of the most racist people you will meet? that they use racial epithets with abandon and that they have no shortage of slurs for white folk?

if i were to critique it, i would only say that *leading* with slurs against blacks is probably a bad tactical choice.

there are too many who have been acclimated to the idea that blacks in America are specially privileged and deserving of exceptional consideration. when they stub their expectations, they tend to react poorly.

Jack H said...

Sometimes we back into a subject. Sometimes we take it by the throat.