Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Racial Trope as Banana Peel

There's a kerfuffle over Hillary Clinton refering to "plantation politics" in an MLK Day speech in Harlem, or at least Republicans are trying create one.

My view is that racial metaphors are seldom appropriate in public discourse because they're so easily misinterpreted given the rawness that surrounds all things racial. Just because the context in which Clinton used the term may have seemed appropriate in the context in which she used it doesn't matter.

Robert A. George, a black Republican (!!!) who blogs at Ragged Thots, takes a hard line:

The plantation rhetoric is the manipulation and exploitation of American racial tropes that are better of dead and buried. Yes, the left-wing will often use it against black conservatives. (We've been down that road before; no need to dredge all THAT fun stuff up again.) But that is hardly an excuse. This country will never move beyond its history until it decides to leave noxious racial references dead and buried -- especially on King's birthday.

Hillary Clinton is pandering shamelessly, yes. But, those on the right stamping their feet at her comments are deluding themselves if they think she is going to pay a price for it. She was speaking in front of a friendly (black, liberal, New York) audience and that audience had no problem accepting her use of language against a group (House Republicans) that they hold in fairly high contempt. She was preaching to the choir.

In praying for an audience who will be as offended as they are at Clinton's comments, conservatives are likely only to be heard by a choir of their own.

(Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.)

1 comment:

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