Monday, May 11, 2015

Bill Black on Slurs, or the Invisible People.


Bill Black on racial/ethnic slurs in the British media.

Frankly, I couldn't agree more with Black: "Ethnic slurs are not acceptable to any civilized person of any background". (here)

Unfortunately, while well-meaning people -- like Black -- are rightly concerned with racial/ethnic slurs and make their voices heard on that, nobody, it seems, is concerned with social slurs: so, provided our ethnicity is not mentioned, we remain the "boorish proletariat" and the "mud", "those who do not know at all what they are talking about".

Ethnicity out of sight, slur out of mind.

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This reminds me of one of Prof. Robert Paul Wolff's blog posts. Wolff was discussing the work of the philologist and literary critic Erich Auerbach.

A person by the name of Jerry Fresia added this comment (April 27, 2015 at 8:44 AM):
"This 'strict separation of styles' seems to be a manifestation of the utter contempt that ruling people have had for the lowest of the low that in their (ruling types) [eyes] have rendered common people historically invisible. I get a kick out of how the servants in Downton Abbey are permitted to silently witness the most candid and condescending attitudes, towards them, of 'their betters.' Or consider Romney's famous 47 percent diatribe in the presence of wait people. Clearly he had no sense that lowly wait people might, to borrow from Marx, 'enter upon the scene of history.' I think, too, of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua where one illiterate peasant hid weapons under the very floorboards in a tavern frequented by the Somocistas. …"
Among other things, and for those who may have forgotten, Fresia is referring to this greatest, most embarrassing, and catastrophic of gaffes, committed by a man who, in 2012, was running for President of the U.S.A. and, therefore, was the subject of intense public scrutiny.

How could any politician have committed such indiscretion?

The facile answer -- one his political opponents probably prefer -- is that the guy is really dumb.

There may, or may not, be some truth in that: I suspect Romney's IQ is besides the point. As Fresia very astutely remarked, working people seem to be "invisible", both to friends (like Black) and foes (like Romney).

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