Friday, September 05, 2008
Southern Republican calls Barack Obama "uppity."
Racism in Plain English
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it finally happened: A Republican congressman has come right out and called Barack Obama “uppity.”
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), often described as one of the most conservative members of Congress (which is saying something), used that racially loaded term to describe Obama in a conversation today outside the House chamber with a reporter from The Hill. As you can see in The Post’s news coverage, the reporter gave Westmoreland a chance to take it back. Bless him, he didn’t.
I love it when everybody’s cards are on the table.
A spokesman for the congressman said later that his boss didn’t realize that term has long been used to describe African Americans who don’t know their place. If so, he is the only born-and-bred Southerner alive who is so oblivious. I should note, however, that the last time Westmoreland’s staff got such a damage-control workout was in 2006, when the congressman sponsored legislation to post the Ten Commandments in the House and Senate -- and then proved unable to list them.
The notion that Obama is somehow reaching beyond his station has been a subtext of the attacks on his eloquence, his academic resume, his ambition -- qualities that are usually prized in a leader but that are somehow twisted by Obama’s opponents into negatives. It is within even Lynn Westmoreland’s limited grasp to understand that “uppity” means one thing: Who does this black guy think he is to run for president? If Republicans are going to ask that question, they shouldn’t be allowed to do it through hints and nudges. Just do like Lynn Westmoreland and put it in plain English.