The Corner

Culture

Obama’s Use of the N-word Was Judicious and Fair

In an interview with Marc Maron last Friday, President Obama used the N-word:

President Barack Obama used the n-word during an interview released Monday to make a point that there’s still plenty of room for America to combat racism.

“Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” Obama said in an interview for the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron.”

“That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.”

The jarring comment comes as the nation is engaged in a debate over the role of race after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans last week in a historically black church in Charleston. They also reflect a growing willingness for Obama to discuss race during the final years of his presidency.

I have seen that a few people are upset by this, and I really can’t imagine why. As a personal matter, I don’t think I’d be able to use the word — unless, maybe, I were reading a book out loud. But that’s my private squeamishness at play. As a general matter, I think that Christopher Hitchens got it absolutely right when he suggested that it is acceptable to use the word in two — and only two — situations, and that we shouldn’t crucify people when they do. The first circumstance in which it acceptable, Hitchens proposed, is when one is discussing the questions of race and language in the abstract — as Obama was. The second is when one is reading older literature that uses older language (Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, for example). Had Obama used the word as descriptor or as an insult, I would of course feel differently. But he didn’t. He was discussing at length his views on race in America. To my ears at least, delploying the full force of the epithet helped to underscore his point.

Carry on.

Most Popular

Elections

The Georgia Smear

Back in 2016, when Trump refused to say he’d necessarily accept the result if he lost, we were told that this was a terrible violation of democratic norms. Now, refusing to accept that you lost an election is the highest form of patriotism. Not only are the media and the Left not pressuring Stacey Abrams to ... Read More
PC Culture

The Lonely Mob

Just before the election, an Andrew Gillum intern named Shelby Shoup was arrested and charged with battery after assaulting some college Republicans on the campus of Florida State University. It was rather less exciting than that sounds: She went on a rant about “Nazis” and “fascism” — Gillum’s ... Read More
World

How Immigration Changes Britain

Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, ... Read More
Elections

Sorry, Brian Kemp Still Won

Here was the state of play as of yesterday per the Kemp campaign’s breakdown of publicly available information: As of Saturday, November 10, 2018 (12:00 p.m.) *Information below is public.  Total votes reported: 3,924,658 Kemp: 1,975,162 (50.33%) Abrams: 1,912,383 (48.73%) Metz: ... Read More