I was curious recently about a statement by Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s the Ed Show, that Sen. Jim Demint, R-S.C., used racist langauge in his opposition to Obamacare when he said “If we are able to stop Obama on this [health care law], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” There are ample reasons to criticize this statements — not the least of which is the notion that we will destroy health care simply to gain a political advantage. However, is “break him” a racist term?
Schultz also accused Herman of pandering to “white Republicans out there who don’t like black folks.” I am not sure how that tracks either.
However, I was most intrigued by the support given to Schultz for his view that “break him” is racist. Dr. James Peterson, director of Africana studies at Lehigh University, agreed that “break” is a racist verb, “a term that was used to destroy, mentally and physically, slaves.” He insists that the Demint comment is proof of “how dark some of these racial discourses can be in presidential politics.”
I may disagree with Demint about many, if not most, things. However, I do not believe that his comment was racist or that “break him” is a racist term — anymore than denouncing “dark” politics. I do not question Professor Peterson’s account of how slaves were often “broken.” However, the term “break” someone goes back to Roman times if not before. A broken man is a common expression in literature and common language.
I also do not believe that Cain is pandering to white people by running against Obama and advancing many of the same positions as his Republican colleagues. There is no doubt that there is racism in this country and in this election. However, it does not advance the effort to combat racism by manufacturing controversies. We have plenty of real racists and racist comments around.
Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, however, insists that Cain and others need to address “post-intentional racism” – racism that people don’t intend to have or to act upon. I am not sure how one defines “post-intentional racism” (which sounds like unintentional racism), but I am pretty sure that the verb break is not a racist term. Moreover, I am not sure how much of a burden Cain should have beyond other candidates in fighting “post-intentional” comments.
What do you think?
Source: Washington Examiner