January 12, 2010

"Marvin Gaye would not have had a hit with 'Why Don’t We Venture to Consummate Our Relationship?' or even 'Let’s Have Sex' instead of 'Let’s Get It On.'"

A not-random sentence from John McWhorter's fascinating and elaborate defense of Harry Reid.

(Via Jaltcoh.)


The Crack Emcee said...


Marvin Gaye could've sang the phone book and had a hit.

Buford Gooch said...

Soft bigotry of low expectations. McWhorter shows it in his defense of Reid as much as Reid showed it in what he said.

Pogo said...

Obfuscatory prose, trying to overwhelm by sheer volume.

But merely air.

Peano said...

Excellent piece, excepting this line: "...why would Reid, a rational human being under any analysis, be under the impression that any black person talks like Uncle Remus ...?

While growing up in the rural South, I worked alongside many and many a black who talked like Uncle Remus. There are fewer now, no doubt, but I'll bet you a red horse you can still find old-timers in the sticks who speak that dialect.

Chase said...

Please (cont.)

1 ● Crack Emcee is correct.

2 ● All Americans recognize the hypocrisy here coming from the self-interest of the Reid defenders.

This is drving Independents even further away from Obama and the Dems:

>CBS News Poll declares support for Obama at 46%, lowest of any first-year President.

The poll says that Obama is

wrong on Guantanamo
wrong on healthcare
wrong on the economy


C'mon November!


Rialby said...

How apropos. I was riveted to a 60 min documentary last night on PBS about Marvin. Always my favorite Motown artist. I had no idea that he went through such a death spiral. Very Elvis-esque. A product of the era I suppose.

edutcher said...

"Why Don’t We Venture to Consummate Our Relationship?'"

Sounds like Barry trying to get lucky on the first date with Michelle by snowing her with how brainy and sophisticated and cultured he is.

rhhardin said...

"A distinguished foreigner once declared that 'the Ozark dialect has only two vowel sounds, and they are used interchangeably.'"

Down in the Holler, A Gallery of Ozark Folk Speech

Joe M. said...

What the man says is correct, although I am as always wary of attempts to declare that dialects should be interchangeable, or that it's a shame that one dialect is the preferred standard (he doesn't go that far, but he makes some noises in that direction).

And I would object to his use of Black English instead of something more precise (e.g., American Black English), but I suppose we have to make concessions to ease of use.

Oh, and how's this for a groan:
That’s a shame because Black English is as systematic as standard English, and what we hear as "mistakes" are just variations, not denigrations.

Joe M. said...

What the man says is correct.

Allow me to qualify: he is correct about dialects and the fact that Reid's sentiment is common, though his choice of words uncouth. But Chase is correct to point to the always-reliable hypocrisy of Dems on race. Had a Republican said this ..., and all that.

Ah, politics.

Nomilk said...

But if McWhorter is right that there is nothing wrong with what Reid said, why did Reid apologize and why did Obama et al. accept said apology?

Oxbay said...

One thing Obama has when he talks in the black dialect, accent included, is that at least he sounds black.

When I hear Hillary or Al Gore visit black churches and use the "black dialect" I cringe. It makes me wonder how their condescension is not ridiculed and castigated by the very audiences they're speaking in front of. When speaking like that Hillary and Al don't sound courageous or authentic. They sound like the biggest phonies in the world.

And insulting to boot.

David said...

"But if McWhorter is right that there is nothing wrong with what Reid said, why did Reid apologize and why did Obama et al. accept said apology?"

Because of Trent Lott.


It's a gigantic charade.

Meanwhile, in Haiti, tens of thousands of former negroes are suffering in French. God bless them.

Pastafarian said...

Oxbay -- I was even offended when Kerry went to the sporting goods store in PA and tried to order "one of them there huntin' licenses".

Unrelated, speaking of the great Marvin Gaye: I heard an accapella version of "Sexual Healing" on XM a few months ago, and it had the most horrifyingly stupid lyrics you can imagine. At the end, he says something like:

"Please don't procrastinate, or I might have to masturbate."


So, yes, I think Crack is right -- Marvin Gaye could have sang just about anything and it would be great.

traditionalguy said...

Vive la difference in language is the gist of the article and all languages are equally valid. Tell that line of BS to Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady. GBS and Harry Reid were recognising a fact of life that makes the skin colors less of a dividing code than the dialect. As a white southerner I am very familiar with the rules. Also a very educated white person from 100 miles north of Atlanta will say far instead of fire. that is the scots-irish hillbilly vowels. If you hear it, remember that you are with a safe and that you can trust with your life and your cash...But due to its use in Hollywood's pantheon of villains and disabled dummies for their film plots , that talk accent can be a terrible disability. Reid was recognising that fact. Now the day that the Racists-R-Us party finally quits slobering in fake victimhood snitz everytime a GOP leader uses that language analysis in the same situations, Reid will be forgiven.

David said...

"makes me wonder how their condescension is not ridiculed and castigated"

It is ridiculed and castigated. And by the black audience. But they do it in private with other blacks when they do it.

Different audiences. Different goals. Their goal is not to make Gore of Clinton look bad to the larger community because they believe they need Clinton and Gore. In their own community the goal is to remind their children and each other that reliance on the Clintons and Gores has its limitations.

I went to hear Al Sharpton preach in a small local black church a few years ago. About four whites in the whole audience, including me.

Sharpton preached a sermon any conservative would be proud to give: self reliance, focus on schooling, work ethic, respect for parents, stay out of trouble, be grateful for how much things have changed, stay humble, mind your p's & q's, never give up.

He went back and forth between dialect and eloquent standard English. Mesmerizing. Impressive. It's not for nothing he's stayed in the public eye all these years.

Would he give that speech to a white audience? No, of course not. Does that make him a hypocrite? I don't think so. Different audiences, different goals, different speeches.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Linked without comment, oddly enough. JAC usually hates it when people accused of racism are defended.

Beth said...

Life would be boring without dialects. Nothing makes me happier than hear the many, many voices of New Orleanians every day. When I travel, I love the voices I hear all across the country. Many people speak in more than one dialect - that includes me. I write in more than one as well.

JAL said...

What got me in this whole thing is that Reid is saying that We the White American citizenry are not adult and enlightened enough to elect a person with dark skin or with an accent / dialect / cadence.

Apparently the black community was not offended by Reid's comments. Great. Good enough. Who cares. (Well, except for the hypocrisy angle which is a given considering the characters involved.)

Funny hoew the holier than thou self righteous elite Democrats assume they know what the unwashed masses think and know based on their screwy caricatures.

Reid's comment was about Me. You. Us.

Ignorant clingers that we are.

Can not wait for November 2.

tim maguire said...

A "defense of Reid" is by definition missing the point. What Reid said is immaterial. The issue is the disparate reactions to questionable statements depending on whether the speaker has a D or an R next to their name.

Liberals desperately want to make this about Reid, but it isn't.

bagoh20 said...

Why is it that Dems do this art of pretending to speak these dialects and Repubs don't. I can't remember a case of a Republican doing this, unless they are actually from that group. And the fact that Obama has 1/2 African genes does not mean he has a Black American background and thus it is equally inauthentic when he does it. If he wants to get all aloha on us then OK.

jr565 said...

I will partially defend Reid and his characterization. Basically he was saying that Obama was good because he was an acceptable black man (or negro) an clean and articulate and didn't speak the negro dialect (or ebonics or what have you) but rather, spoke in a non controversial way that would appeal to the mainstream. In other words, he spoke white.
He certainly said it inartfully, and saying "negro dialect" does conjure up images of Uncle Remus.
The point though is that there were plenty of conversations about Obama in regards to his electability, many by blacks, who argued that he was too white, or not authentically black what have you. Reid was simply saying that Obama was electable precisely because he didn't come across like a grievance merchant a la Al Sharpton. He was polite and well spoken (in the non negro dialects)and thus had better crossover appeal.
So, I agree that it wasn't a racist statement. But will I cut him one inch of slack? Hell no! I hope they hang Reid by his petard and beat this to death. I remember when Rush was talking about the black quarterback Mcnabb and was saying that because of who he was many people had a vented interest in seeing him succeed and were thus saying he was better than he was or cutting him additional slack, and he got kicked out of the NFL for that. I'm sure REid and co. hammered on to portray that statement as the height of racism and grounds to get Rush kicked off of tv. Likewise when Trent Lott praised a 100 year old Strom Thurmond he was accused of wishing for segregation, as opposed to saying nice things about a venerated member of the senate who was beloved and who he worked with for 40 years. People (hint, dems and libs) immediately jumped to the conclusion that the only possible interpretation was that he was wishing for segregation and demanded that he lose his seat.
So let Harry get hung by his petard. I'll provide him the exact degree of latitude that he or other dems provided Lott, or Rush or anyone. Meaning, zero. Hope he gets run out of town on a rail.