September 27, 2011


Question: does the AP’s accurate transcription of Obama’s speech to the CBC wish to hang blacks from trees or relegate them to the backs of buses or separate drinking fountains?

That is to say, is the objective depiction of Obama’s switch into his Hawaiian accent (h/t Gutfeld) during a speech now considered out of bounds? Is reality itself racist? — and if so, does that assertion not mark the speaker himself as responsible for the racism?

Or are we to believe that it’s a black thing, we wouldn’t understand, and most importantly, we aren’t allowed to try. In fact, it’s racist even to notice.

Long time readers of this site can’t say they haven’t been warned… Yahoo News:

was the AP transcription of Obama’s remarks racist?

That’s the subject currently being debated after the issue was raised on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show on Sunday.

On MSNBC, the African-American author Karen Hunter complained the news service transcribed Obama’s speech without cleaning it up as other outlets did–specifically including the “dropped g’s.”

Via the AP version:

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

Hunter called the AP’s version “inherently racist,” sparring with New Republic contributing editor and noted linguistics expert John McWhorter, who argued the g-less version “is actually the correct one,” noting that the president’s victory in the 2008 election was due, in part, to how effortlessly “he can switch into that [black] dialect.”

Leaving aside that direct political question for the moment — and there’s no doubt McWhorter is correct in pointing out that Obama tends to direct his oratorical cadences, patterns, and dialect to the specific audience he’s addressing — what to me is most amazing is that, to Hunter, noticing and noting the dropped g’s, which no one disputes the President did, is now “inherently racist,” meaning that to avoid the charge of racism under Hunter’s conditions non-blacks (and I’m assuming Ms Hunter either believes the AP transcriber non-black, or else an Uncle Tom, and so “inauthentic”) most now train themselves to ignore their own perceptions, or at the very least, to edit them into a more politically correct version than the reality their aim is to capture has provided them.

That is, they must become creative writers whose job it is to edit reality to suit political sensibilities, taking away the intent of the speaker they are transcribing to prevent that intent from being examined by second-hand receivers of the transcription.

In other words, they are now charged with re-writing history to protect the speaker from himself, lest they be charged with transcribing reality, once considered the most neutral of all activities (at least in intent and aim), an activity that now carries with it the charge of “inherent racism” if the reality being transcribed belongs to blacks, and non-blacks or inauthentic blacks are doing the transcribing.

Presumably, Ms Hunter, if pressed, might have to extend the argument to audio clips that capture the dropping of the g’s — themselves a secondhand recording of reality that have not been “corrected” of their “inherent racism.” And by extentsion, non-black ears who perceived the dropping of the g’s likewise can’t escape such indictments.

Which is to say, non-blacks and inauthentic blacks listening to the speech have but two choices should they wish to resist the charge of being racists: either they shield their ears and not listen to the President, because he wasn’t directing his speech to them; or else they listen and at least pretend not to notice his oratorical tricks and tropes.

This way lies insanity, of course. But it is also the logical endpoint of the Edward Said Orientalism model for defining the power relations within the identity politics of the left.

Multiculturalism and “diversity” training all teach the more superficial, innocuous, and feel-good it iterations of the kernel assumptions of Said’s perverse ideological feint; so we shouldn’t be surprised that when the more restrictive arguments built on the kernel assumptions we’ve already accepted and institutionalized are then marshaled against us, we find ourselves caught in the trap of political correctness we ourselves have so readily sanctioned.

All of which is why I’ve counseled that we don’t cede the ground in the first place, even if doing so seems locally harmless and politically expedient at the time we do it.

But then, what do I know? I’m not the go along to get along type.

(h/t geoffb)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:14am

Comments (27)

  1. Kinda like chunky peanut butter. Though the key is to stay away from the white bread.

  2. Quick Cliff’s Notes version of the rules: If you record the speech of a proud black man in a way that recognizes him as a proud black man, that means that you’re emphasizing the fact that the speaker is black, so you’re racist. If you record the speech of a proud black man in a way that transmutes him into a Standard White Nebraskan Johnny Carson clone, that denies him his dignity and identity as a proud black man, so you’re racist.

    Hope that helps.

  3. If Barack Obama was raised by white folks (Granny, Gramps and, sometimes Mom, when she felt like it), went to prep school, Occidental (isn’t the very name of the school “code”?), then Columbia (Jooos), and Harvard (more white types), isn’t he a de facto white guy? I submit that the President is himself racis’.

  4. Is reality itself racist?

    Well, yes. Haven’t you been paying attention?

  5. …which is why reality itself must be expunged!

  6. …to Hunter, noticing and noting the dropped g’s, which no one disputes the President did, is now “inherently racist,”

    Racism is complicated.

  7. He who controls the language, controls the future.

  8. I hear the FCC is demanding that all archived copies of “The Jeffersons” episodes overdub “Weezy” with “Louise”.

  9. Gwen Ifill, WaPo:

    A less admiring author — one who did not invest the considerable time Remnick did in interviewing Obama’s family members, childhood and college friends, Chicago allies, and the president himself — might have spun this tale more harshly. Instead of Obama the heroic change agent, we might have seen more of Obama the cagey political animal. Those qualities are certainly present in “The Bridge.” Remnick writes that as a political neophyte in Chicago, Obama had no problem becoming “multilingual” — learning to speak in different ways to different groups. He “subtly shifted accent and cadences depending on the audience,” Remnick writes: “a more straight-up delivery for a luncheon of businesspeople in the Loop; a folksier approach at a downstate VFW; echoes of the pastors of the black church when he is in one.”

    Obama cops to this. “The fact that I conjugate my verbs and speak in a typical Midwestern newscaster’s voice — there’s no doubt that this helps ease communication between myself and white audiences,” he tells Remnick. “And there’s no doubt that when I’m with a black audience I slip into a slightly different dialect. But the point is, I don’t feel the need to speak a certain way in front of a black audience. There’s a level of self-consciousness about these issues the previous generation had to negotiate that I don’t feel I have to.”

  10. This:

    According to Mark Smith, the AP reporter who filed the story, Obama was making a point by dropping his g’s, making the transcription a no-brainer.

    “Normally, I lean toward the clean-it-up school of quote transcribing—for everyone,” Smith told Mediaite. “But in this case, the President appeared to be making such a point of dropping Gs, and doing so in a rhythmic fashion, that for me to insert them would run clearly counter to his meaning. I believe I was respecting his intent in this. Certainly disrespect was the last thing I intended.”

    “The AP Stylebook counsels against using spellings like gonna or wanna–or in this case, complainin’ and cryin’–‘in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to help a desired touch or to convey an emphasis by the speaker,'” Tom Kent, the AP deputy managing editor for standards and production, said in a statement to The Cutline. “In this case, our reporter, who was there in person, felt the spellings were appropriate to convey a particular touch that President Obama appeared to be intentionally making use of.”

    Makes me wonder how much of reality they have been massaging for years. Perhaps in part to reinforce the idea that the elites of the ruling class are more educated, more intelligent than they are in truth. Eliza Doolittle simply needed an editor with the AP stylebook in hand, no lessons needed.

  11. If Barack Obama was raised by white folks (Granny, Gramps and, sometimes Mom, when she felt like it), went to prep school, Occidental (isn’t the very name of the school “code”?), then Columbia (Jooos), and Harvard (more white types), isn’t he a de facto white guy? I submit that the President is himself racis’.

    The only significant black in Obama’s upbringing was Frank Marshall Davis.

  12. Yes indeed, Pablo. Didn’t Frank take the nekkid pictures of Stanley Ann, too?

  13. That turned out to be a hoax. The pics are of some relatively notable pin up chickie who bears a resemblance to Stanley.

  14. Ah, thanks. Stanley was rather fugly in most pictures I’ve seen. I thought maybe she was just showing her best side in those pin-ups.

  15. Miller asked Obama to consider the plight of a hypothetical young, African-American in Chicago’s South Side: Father gone, mother working 10 hours a day for “peanuts,” there are no jobs and, “You won’t even say, ‘Look, I am going to help you,'” Miller said.

    Peanuts! See?

    Think G. W. C.

  16. Constitutionalism, in short, is simply a special case of respect for the rule of law: the case in which the law in question is the supreme law of the land. The rule of law demands that those who apply the law — be they judges, sheriffs, presidents, or governors — apply it faithfully. If those officials can change the meaning of the words, there is no point to having a written law.

    There are different types of originalism, and legitimate debate about what counts as originalism. But constitutionalism — which is, again, to say the rule of law — entails some sort of originalism. The law has to be knowable, and its meaning has to be fixed at the time of enactment (although, of course, its application may change based on the circumstances to which it applies). Officials who have to interpret the Constitution may or may not err in ascertaining the original meaning of the provisions at issue, or in inferring what norms that meaning implies, or in applying the norms to the legal case or policy dispute at hand. But any authoritative interpretation of the Constitution that departs from plausible understandings of the original meaning is itself a violation of the rule of law. Hence originalism is not merely one interpretive methodology among many.


  17. But what do reasonable people think, nr?

  18. disturbing to see lowry letting lunatics write for national review.

  19. OT: Hey Jeff, I didn’t know you lived in Wyoming. Pres. Zero thinks you do.

  20. Just the other day I heard someone speaking in the Australian parliament (left wing of course) go on endlessly about how “processing refugee applications” was a derogatory term because you processed pork but not people. How it was insensitive, unworthy, and indicative of our inner perversions.

    To tell you the truth I had never once given the matter the slightest thought. For that matter I doubt whether anyone else did until that politician brought it up and spoke on the matter at length.

    I thought processing referred to the paperwork you had to fill out. But no matter, in a little while yet we will have yet another mini-human rights violation, another article of hate speech, another thing to watch out for. All because of somebody in a position of power has a bad vocabulary and wants to use the state to make sure nobody uses words he can’t understand again.


  21. Accurately quotin’ the President is, of course, racist. Inherently, even.

    I wish to hell I owned a newspaper. I’d alternate transcribing his sentences into the voices of Slave Jim and Jay Gatsby.

  22. Q: Why did Colorado cross the road? A: It didn’t. That was Wyoming. Racist.

  23. I am going to have to steal that, Jeff.

  24. Earlier sdferr sent me a link to this. “Why We’re Reading Hayek Again.” Containing this quote from Hayek.

    The rule of law is therefore not a rule of law, but a rule concerning what the law ought to be, a meta-legal doctrine or a political ideal. It will be effective only in so far as the legislator feels bound by it. In a democracy this means that it will not prevail unless it forms part of the moral tradition of the community, a common ideal shared and unquestionably accepted by the majority.

    Which in turn led me to another formulation here.

    As may be seen, the rule of law is something more than mere constitutionalism and goes beyond it, since it involves certain requirements with respect to the contents of the constitution. Consequently, the rule of law is not one more rule or strictly speaking a legal norm. It is a rule of rules, a certain conception of what these should be. We can therefore describe it as a meta-legal doctrine or, if one wishes, as a political ideal. And it is unnecessary to explain that it is not a principle of natural law in the sense that it may exist elsewhere than in the conviction or will of men or possess objective validity apart from them.

    5 – By safeguarding freedom and by guaranteeing to each individual a known sphere of action within which he may decide at his convenience, the rule of law enables him to use his knowledge in the fullest and most productive way, particularly his special, concrete and often unique knowledge, including that of circumstances of time and place. In this way the formation of a spontaneous order of human activities becomes possible, of much greater complexity than the order which could be produced by virtue of deliberate arrangement. The market provides us with an example of this sort of order in which the different and sometimes opposite purposes of those who take part in it are adjusted and reconciled for their reciprocal benefit. That a market economy depends on the rule of law and on the security and freedom which it brings is proved by the examples mentioned before, of the economic development achieved during Rome’s golden age and by the Netherlands and England beginning with the 17th century and the Industrial Revolution, as well as in the United States of America under the protection of a constitution which for the first time in history incorporated the basic principles of liberalism.

  25. Pingback: IMAO » Blog Archive » Racist Reality … Fixed!

  26. Don’t be silly, there’s no such place as Wyoming. Think about it, have you ever met anyone from Wyoming? Hmmm??

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