The Corner

Racism as a Second Language

Charlie, re Oprah’s account of her racist treatment by a totally racist high-end handbag saleswoman in Switzerland, the lady apparently conversed with Oprah in her own language – English. How many racists in American handbag stores would be considerate enough to insult non-American people of color in their own tongue? Or would even be capable of it?

Zurich is a German-speaking city, the bulk of whose people talk “Schweizerdeutsch”, with a smaller percentage favoring High German. According to the official statistics, only 8.8 per cent of Zurich residents speak English, which is barely any more significant than the 4.1 per cent who speak Serbo-Croat. How many times has the Reverend Al Sharpton strolled into his Swiss watchmakers ready to take offense only to have the snooty clerk sneer at him racistly in Serbo-Croat and leave him none the wiser? Yet this racist handbag lady made a good-faith effort to conduct her totally racist putdown of Oprah in Oprah’s language rather than her own. Just another hardworking foreigner doing the jobs American racists won’t do.

I don’t know what the answer to this is as America’s unilingual racists are outpaced in the new global racism economy, but it undoubtedly involves “investing more in education” before US racists are left auf der Rückseite der autobus. Maybe Oprah could do a special on it or something.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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