Being Called “White” Is So Demeaning


crazy horse

*                                                                       What’s wrong with this picture?

Being called “white” hasn’t always been offensive.   But since words…..evolve, according to Charles Krauthammer, it got me to thinking about colors.  And stuff.

Charles said they couldn’t do a remake of “The Gay Divorcee”.  They would have to change the title.  I assume he thinks people given the birthname “Gay” need to have it changed as well.  Just because you have a name, doesn’t mean you own it.  So take that, Dan Snyder and all you people with old fashioned names.
I suppose also that Charles, an intellectual of the first order ( well a psychiatrist and a pretty good conservative politics writer/talker anyway; I like his wit most of the time) is just okay with the banning of Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”.  Lots of people are okay with that.  But Charles goes further – he says you can’t even say Negro in these modern times because it’s demeaning.

Fifty years ago the preferred, most respectful term for African-Americans was Negro. The word appears 15 times in Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Negro replaced a long list of insulting words in common use during decades of public and legal discrimination.

And then, for complicated historical reasons (having to do with the black-power and “black is beautiful” movements), usage changed. The preferred term is now black or African American. With a rare few legacy exceptions, Negro carries an unmistakably patronizing and demeaning tone.


Most of that is true, Charles, except that last part is a little shaky.   “Negro” and variations of it are used quite extensively in many cultures, especially some of the Romance cultures, I think, for quite non-demeaning reasons but just as definitions, names and descriptions. – /break/ Wait a minute!  Charles, are we talking here just about the monolithic monoculture of ‘America’?  No, that can’t be right because we’re not, um, well ……are we? /break/ –  Some of it is indeed complicated, as you say.  The irony of ironies is that on the one hand you would explain the ‘Black is beautiful’ concept in context, but on the other hand have us accept that ‘Red’ couldn’t possibly be okay because  2013, or something.     It is a shame you deigned not to come down from your Ivory Tower and explain the intricacies of “legacy exceptions.” Or does that simply mean that some people get to use certain words because of who they are and others don’t? That’s a familiar tack in these modern, continually evolving times as well.  Oh, if you let it, it’ll make your head spin.


And they wonder why people don’t talk anymore.



I thought Negro was a race.  I’m going to have to stop giving to the United Negro College Fund.  I know you’re supposed to say “Black”, and I do most of the time, but really ….
And now for a brief intermission:

Bottom line, for those like Charles wanting to “lower the temperature” is : what’s the big deal?  Charles says  it’s just a team name so why not just call them “the ‘Skins?”, he asks.  Like in pickup games where one team takes its shirts off and it’s ‘shirts vs. skins’.  Uh, Charles, I thought the whole deal was content of character.  Why must you continually be obsessed with “skin”?  I thought you had evolved ?
Charles starts his piece off today informing us he doesn’t like to be lectured by sportscasters….then proceeds, as a political analyst, to lecture us on what words mean.  Or maybe he was lecturing us as a psychiatrist, which he is.  At any rate, Political Correctness does not become someone who otherwise makes so much sense in economic and political and international affairs.  But of course he is far from being alone in that respect.  Witness the Bush family.


Someone once said that the temperature at which books – fiction, non-fiction and history  – will ignite and burn to a crisp, is 451 degrees Fahrenheit.  I don’t think it is a Chicken Little position to rather expect that premise to get a lot of field testing over the next few decades, as  those great minds we look to for intellectual and moral support fail to make the connection between seemingly harmless squabbles such as the common usage names of mundane things like sports teams, or college mascots, or characters and caricatures in literary works, and the complete, abject, robotic, cold, stark withdrawal of humanness from society at large as the result of censorship and political correctness.  And if you think censorship as a form of bullying by one’s betters and those with an agenda doesn’t lead to government censorship, well, there are plenty of historical examples.
bookburning.                                                                             Nazi book-burning party
Calling on his credentials as a medical doctor, Krauthammer reminds us that the connotation today is what is important, as he describes the progression of calling people “mongoloids”, to then “retarded” to now “developmentally disabled”, which he admits is cumbersome.  The problem with Charles’ analogy is that “retarded” actually means something, and it used to be accepted in medical science and the professional journals, etc. .  There was nothing wrong with the word. Common usage, or scientifically correct,  English-usage correct, legally correct words and phrases are not inherently evil, no matter what the calendar says.  But people of low bearing bastardized the term into “retards” and applied it willy nilly and also viciously, and now a simple slip of the tongue can get an employee axed, a politician’s reputation ruined, a student expelled.  Oh, and something being corrupted for political gain can get books banned, too.
 – /break/Wait a minute.  Does anyone see a parallel here between this and the misuse of firearms and the anti-gun movement?  Nah.  Apples and oranges, you say.  Okay. Never mind. /break/ – 
What’s in a name?  Oh, sometimes the name says it all and sometimes it carries little or no import and sometimes there is so much lore and history and meaning in a name it can be an icon, a testament, a legend.  I don’t  know what Krauthammer means.  I know that kraut is a slur used to describe German soldiers in both of the World Wars and still used by some people to mock Germans today, sometimes all in good fun.  I know I enjoy a good sauer kraut.  Don’t know if Charles ever thought about it.  I’m sure it’s just a cherished, traditional family name of not much import across most of the vast expanse of America.  Outside the Beltway that is.  Maybe we should just call him ‘Hammer.
But back to this hangup with skin color.  White does not describe me, I think.   I have a reddish-brown tan most of the time, and dark hair.  Nevertheless,  I think of myself as …..fair.  Yeah, that’s it!  Fair!
Addendum:  A blast from the past, via the New York Times ca. 1993:

St. John’s to Drop Redmen Nickname

Published: November 19, 1993

St. John’s announced that a university committee has been established, chaired by the former head basketball coach, Lou Carnesecca, to review nickname changes for the Redmen.

The administration has decided to drop the nickname Redmen in sensitivity to Native American communities.

The term Redmen really comes from the football teams that used to wear red uniforms on the field. Carnesecca and the committee will review alternatives and make a recommendation to the univeristy president, but no timetable has been set.


They were honoring red…….shirts.   It was ……offensive.  Many of you probably know that the committee eventually came up with the team name “Red Storm”. That’s right – they kept ‘Red’ and dropped ‘Men”. Charles would have suggested just calling them the ‘Shirts.




0 0 vote
Article Rating
Poor. No advanced degrees. Unorganized. Feeble. Disjointed. Random. Past it. .... Intrigued, Interested, Patriotic and Lucky.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Larry Eastbay
October 20, 2013 12:04 am

Not only do I object to being called ‘white’ but I am also offended by those endless blond jokes. No, not really. You see, I have a sense of humor and tell as many blond jokes as anybody.

But then maybe it’s like when ‘African-Americans’ call each other the ‘N’ word. It’s not the word but the intend. My blond jokes hold no animosity towards blonds. It’s only when words are used to express hate that they become offensive.

October 20, 2013 11:31 am

right? I mean how many “whites” are white which is colorless? white is so albino!

vassar bushmills
October 20, 2013 1:38 pm

Isn’t ‘Skins sort of like saying Gosh darn, or Fudge? Or Sheezus? Shouldn’t there be Shirts, then? Red shirts? “Sometime Redskin play like heap bad Red Shirt.” I can think of all sorts of unkind antecedents to ‘skin. Wasn’t Red Shirt a Comanche war chief? Or maybe Sioux. What about Sioux City Sue? That was a ’45 song. Also a sweet butter substitute. Heap big good on biscuit.

Many moon come Choctaw, Charles. Speak with forked tongue now.

October 26, 2013 1:20 pm

Your post is nice, but you really put it in the shadow with your choice of intermission. I’ll be smiling and humming or singing for the rest of the day at least. 🙂