Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Peculiar touchiness"

Mark Steyn, the man who once wrote that "these days, whenever something goofy turns up on the news, chances are it involves a fellow called Mohammed," brings all of his wisdom, delicacy, and insight to America's racial divide in his latest column for Macleans.

The column, entitled "Keepin' it real is real stupid" (always encouraging when a headline in a national magazine just barely reaches the level of a pamphlet about peer pressure handed out in high school), is ostensibly about a new book by Juan Williams's new book, Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America - And What We Can Do About It.

Here's how Steyn sees the black-white divide these days:

Whatever good it might once have done, America's racial-grievance industry is now principally invested in its own indispensability. Lavishly remunerated panjandrums such as the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have a far greater interest in maintaining racism than any humdrum Ku Klux Klan kleagle, assuming there still are any.

Jesse Jackson: more racist than the Klan (if such a thing even exists anymore).

Here's Steyn on the destruction of New Orleans:

Most Americans looked at what was happening in New Orleans and concluded that it's a great place to enjoy a margarita with a topless transsexual Mardi Gras queen, but you wouldn't want to live there: a deeply dysfunctional city exclusively controlled by Democrats for generations, it's a welfare swamp with a lucrative tourist quarter.

And America's better off without it!
The concept of "authenticity" -- that one's skin colour mandates particular behaviours, such as voting Democrat and supporting "affirmative action" -- is, of course, racist. But the peculiar touchiness of the black community on this question recurs again and again in Williams's book.

"Peculiar touchiness." Hmm. You don't thing a history of slavery, lynching, segregation, and systematic racism would have anything to do with it, would you? "We recultantly gave you some of your basic civil rights after decades of fighting you tooth and nail – what are you so touchy about?" You don't imagine Steyn has heard anything about those naughty little voter disenfranchisement schemes that seem to keep popping up every time there's an election in he U.S.?

Of course, we can't talk about race in America without talking about hip hop:
This is a fascinating theme whose significance extends far beyond music -- or, in this case, 'music.'

I can check, but I'm pretty sure putting quotation marks around "music" when referring to hip hop or rap went out of style some time in the late nineties. Speaking of music, here's what Steyn, the theatre columnist for the New Criterion, once said about a recent production of A Chorus Line, in which the cast was all done up in 1970's-era haircuts and clothes: "It shows how hip I am, it doesn’t look years out of date to me."
Williams recalls that in 1956 'a gang of white men dragged the famous black singer Nat 'King' Cole off a stage and beat him because they said he was singing love songs to white women.' They weren't wrong about that: my mom loved him.

And she always would remember that handsome nigger's dazzling smile as those boys kicked him in the head. What a dreamboat.

Here's my favourite bit of the whole column:

A few years back, arguing for the teaching of "Ebonics" as a distinct language, professor Ron Emmons of Los Angeles City College produced a list of black America's contributions to the English language: hip, cool, gig, jiving around, get high, gimme five, hot, baby, mojo, fine, mess with, thang (as in "doin' my," he helpfully explained), take it easy, slick, rip-off, bad . . . Hmm. Does that list really testify to the vitality of "Black English"? By comparison, India via the Raj gave English (to pluck at random) pajamas, bungalow, jodhpurs, cheroot, cummerbund, veranda, khakis, karma. Despite the best efforts of the late Tupac and the Rodney King rioters to copyright them, even "thug" and "looter" come from the subcontinent. Doesn't that list make "jiving around" and "get high" look a bit weedy?

Steyn: the wogs we colonized gave us niftier words than the darkies we enslaved. Case closed.

I should point out that Steyn and I are both Canadian, and Canada has given precisely jack-shit to the world in terms of new words. Who looks "a bit weedy" now?

I should also reiterate that this column was published in Macleans, the magazine I recently heard Noah Richler praise for its having moved from the dentists' offices of the nation into our front rooms. That's Canada: all jodhpurs, no mojo.

Bit of a rip-off, though.

[UPDATE: I know full well that Steyn writes these kinds of things to get liberals all enraged, out of a pathetic and juvenile need for attention and negative validation, Ann Coulter-style, but still, sometimes it's nice to be reminded that you can say whatever you like in this country as long as you've reached D-grade celebrity status in the U.S.]


ognir.rrats said...

What a bonehead.

lobbey_dosser said...

Hasn't Canada contributed "Touque" to the world?

Great take down of Steyn, you Canadains know an asshole when you see one, keep up the good work. Particularly liked; "Steyn: the wogs we colonized gave us niftier words than the darkies we enslaved. Case closed."


Steven W. Beattie said...

Besides "touque," what about "stubbie" and "hoser"? Surely our language is infinitely richer thanks to these colourful and precise signifiers?