First let me apologize. This is probably the first time in my life that I have written the N-Word. [UPDATE: I agree, I don't need to spell it out to make my point] Neither have I uttered the N-Word in conversation. I haven't heard it spoken much either because I don't tend to hang around people that might be inclined to say such things. I also don't listen to much rap so I don't hear "Nigga" much either.
I began to wonder about this when McNasty and McWinky began throwing out the terrorist lines, "palling around with terrorists" and the like. And I wondered if the term terrorist has been transformed. The term "Terrorist" no longer appears to be a descriptive term of a person that uses terror as a means of coercion.
The term "Terrorist" has now become an accepted pejorative of any person of color, especially African-Americans.
In my lifetime, it was never considered acceptable to say the N-Word, either in public, or even in small groups. The few times I heard it late at night in college after a lot of drinking a person might utter it only to be met with gasps. That person was usually ostracized over time. I just didn't hang around with such people as they were ignorant and/or intolerant or both. My friends wouldn't hang around with such people either as my friends shared my sentiments. I probably heard the N-Word the most from my Grandfather in law, whom I barely knew, and who was either an unrepentant racist, or just grew up in a time when the N-Word was not so taboo and just couldn't give a fuck about conforming to todays standards.
Anyone that has ever spoken or written the N-Word, or anything remotely close to it has similarly been ostracized. You will recall back in 2006 when the guy (I blotted his name out) running against the now Senator Webb said "Macaca," which turned out to be a French/Morocan insult akin to saying the N-Word. He was uniformly lambasted by the press and it was all downhill from there.
In fact, it has been relatively taboo to even mention that Barack Obama is black. Clinton brought on a bit of a shitstorm on herself by claiming that Obama was getting treated with more respect or with kid gloves by the press because he is black (or maybe that was Bubba[definitely Geraldine Ferraro used that line of attack]). So many of the political ads by the Republicans over the last fifteen years or so, more in the last six or seven years have often made some oblique attempt to remind some of the voters of the race of one of the candidates. Getting a ditsy blonde to blow a kiss to Harold Ford, Jr. when he was running for senator to try and evoke fears of interracial marriage in a border state where there may be many closet racists.
Lee Atwater said many years ago that you cannot use the N-Word because it will backfire and make the person using the term appear ignorant, petty, intolerant, and racist. So code words would have to be used and attacks would have to be launched on subsidiary topics that are of greater value to minorities (i.e. food stamps [actually more white people are on food stamps, but the perception is that it is used by more blacks, but perception is reality]) or welfare, etc...
But now we have the word "Terrorist". It is a useful term for the Republicans and they appear to have converted it from a descriptive term to an insult, another coded attack for the rabid base. It allows the base to come out from their talus fields* where they live and breed and openly castigate a man of color as a terrorist. They can comfortably rely on old stereotypes like the Black Panthers, or Louis Farrakhan (sp?).
On the one hand it is truly sad to see this phenomenon, but on the other hand maybe it is a good thing. A jolting reminder that racism is alive and well and that we need to be ever vigilant about racism and its corrosive effects on politics, commerce, social well being and peace.
I am not sure how to respond to it. Attacking the user of the T-Word will almost certainly be counterattacked as being conspiratorial or shrill. I think attacking the user of the T-words as being utterly ignorant is probably the best way to go. How about you?
*a talus field is a field of boulders and rocks at the base of a granite mountain. Thousands of years of freeze and thaw and the expansion and contraction of water have cracked off pieces of rocks to form a debris field at the base of the mountain.