...nasty racial epithet it is, owing to its (now) well-understood associations with the ignominious history of American slavery and apartheid. It gains in nastiness every year because of the ever-narrowing gaps in racial treatment in this country. (This is not to say they're narrow. But narrowing.) Every day we can know better and yet don't.
It's used by millions of Americans every day.
'Nigger.' The word is 'nigger.' It is a word. Our shared project, one of our projects, is to rob it of its power. We are failing in that project. Day by day, failing.
Doesn't seem to take much courage to print it in a fucking magazine or newspaper article, though. Especially when the alternative is something like 'a hurtful racial epithet often applied to African-Americans.' That sentence is like chemotherapy for the English language: the cost to the body isn't worth it, goddamnit.
George Allen. Used. The. Word. Nigger. Called black people niggers because he thought they were something other than men and women. Along with half the guys he went to college with, I imagine, and why are we dancing all of a sudden? Scared of implicating ourselves?
As if we have a choice! As if we aren't all implicated already.
'Would you like some lemon sorbet? Are you absolutely suuuuure? Can I tempt you to try just a teensy-weensy little bit?'
Why no. You can't.
Puritan chickenshit babies, so many of us. Running from words and their shadows.
What is the man now? What has he come to, what does he do? Whom does he help and out of what sense of humanity? But those aren't the real questions, are they. Not for this proud upstanding Moral Values Nation.
If he's a racist then denounce if you must, teach your children, vote your conscience, and let's move on. He's not the only one or the worst and people are dying to save our nonexistent souls, and that's our blood staining faraway streets.