Eliana Johnson, in National Review Online, had some remarks about former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s shameful “defense” of current Secretary of Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel. She starts off by quoting Powell on Hagel’s on “insensitive” remarks about Hagel’s hated “Jewish” lobby:
“That term [“Jewish lobby”] slips out from time to time,” he told NBC‘s David Gregory [Johnson posted the entire interview at the head of her article; however, it’s now labeled “This video is private”]. “So Chuck should have said ‘Israeli lobby,’ not ‘Jewish lobby,’ and perhaps he needs to write on a blackboard a hundred times ‘It is the Israeli lobby.’
Then she notes
Powell’s bizarre defense of Hagel took an even more troubling turn as he decried the “dark vein of intolerance” in some parts of the Republican Party. In particular, he singled out former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and former New Hampshire governor John Sununu for their racial insensitivity, charging that they “look down on minorities.” Palin attacked the Obama administration for withholding information on the Benghazi scandal, accusing the president of doing a “shuck and jive”; “That’s a racial-era, slave term,” Powell said. Sununu slammed the president’s first debate performance against Mitt Romney, calling Obama “lazy and detached”; “Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans, but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is ‘shiftless’ and then there’s another word that goes along with it.”
One might think that a modicum of self-awareness would prevent Powell from making such charges after flippantly dismissing the concerns raised by many in the Jewish and pro-Israel communities. Don’t such remarks just—woopsy daisy!—“slip out from time to time?” And if Powell finds the use of slave-era terminology offensive, one wonders why he has difficulty understanding that, among Jews, the imputation of dual loyalties rankles, even if “it may not mean anything to most Americans.”
Let’s leave aside Powell’s blatant hypocrisy concerning the “slipping out” of terms being minor accidents of phrasing when applied to some groups but are seriously racist when applied to his favored group.
As Powell notes, the terms he’s chosen to find offensive are ancient in their original usage (“racial era, slave”). Languages, as a man of Powell’s evident intelligence surely knows, evolve, and American English is no different. Today as Powell also notes, the terms don’t mean much of anything “to most Americans” beyond their actual, dictionary meaning (“lazy,” for instance, simply meaning “unwilling to work” and implying nothing at all to anyone beyond the individual being referenced). With regard to slang phrases, Powell, as the father of a son and two daughters who were teenagers once, also surely knows slang evolves even faster than its base language (“shuck and jive,” for instance, today means nothing more than being cynically evasive “to most Americans”).
The only reason these terms have any racial overtones at all (and the same applies to the “Jewish” lobby—except I don’t see very many Hebrew-Americans being as strident about “dual loyalty” as Powell is being about his imagined slurs) is because guys like Powell actively seek to keep those overtones alive, for their personal use. See, for example, the evolution of the colonial slur “Yankee” applied to us by those nasty 18th century Brits.
This is just another example of the Left manufacturing a race problem to mask their inability to form a substantive position in a discussion.
Note: the Gregory-Powell interview’s transcript can be read here (so far), and the video of the interview is at the same location. Apparently, MSNBC just doesn’t want the material in the hands of those they can’t control.