"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The language question

I think Adam Hanft over at Huffington Post has a point here...

So let's play a thought game. Imagine if a folksy, inexperienced black woman was nominated to be vice president on the Democratic ticket. And imagine that instead of coming from Alaska she came from Alabama, and instead of dropping white aw-shucksisms like "Doggone" and "You betcha" into her conversation, she used the equivalent black vernacular.

Imagine, as well, if her sentences didn't come close to parsing, if they were wickedly ungrammatical -- no, anti-grammatical -- clouds of disconnected thoughts and sound bites. The right would rise up in indignation and disgust, and the most vitriolic, the Rush Limbaughs, the Michael Savages, would decry the presence of Ebonics on the national stage.

Were she black, Sarah Palin's performance would have been skewered by the right as undignified and demeaning to the office she seeks. But because she is a culture warrior in heels, she is hailed by the right as a breath of populist fresh air, and her use of what conservatives once sniffed at as "substandard English" is celebrated as a signifier of her glorious everydayness.


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