Skip to comments.‘That’s Racist’ - The accusation becomes a punch line.
Posted on 07/06/2011 8:36:25 AM PDT by neverdem
The accusation becomes a punch line.
It’s a comedic catchphrase these days, popularized by an online clip from a 2005 TV show Wonder Showzen on MTV2. It’s not as iconic as Gary Coleman’s “What ’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” or Fonzie’s “Ayyyyyy” or even Bart Simpson’s “Don’t have a cow, man.” But what it lacks in pedigree, it makes up for in ubiquity and social relevance.
Across the country, it’s a staple of schoolyards, Internet discussion groups, Twitter, and sitcoms.
For instance, when a character on NBC’s Parks and Recreation explains to a co-worker how to do laundry, he says, “Okay, so you always separate your lights from your darks.”
She responds, “That’s racist.”
Perhaps the greatest sign that the punch line has gone mainstream came last week when NPR’s All Things Considered reported on “that’s racist.” Correspondent Neda Ulaby explored how a phrase once considered one of the most serious accusations possible has become a gag line. The only problem? It’s not clear she actually gets the joke.
Ulaby relied heavily on Regina Bradley, who teaches African-American literature at Florida State University. Bradley admits her students say “that’s racist” all the time: “They were simply using it to lump discussions of race and race discourse all together. Because they were just saying because we brought up issues of race that was considered to be racist.”
Okay, so apparently the reason these kids say “that’s racist” is that they’re not too bright. But, wait, there’s more. According to Ulaby, Bradley also believes that the students are using the joke to establish up front that they themselves aren’t racist. Good for them!
Hold on, another explanation is that kids simply mimic the stuff they see on TV shows like 30 Rock and South Park.
I don’t want to overanalyze, but it seems as if everyone’s bending over backward to come up with the least obvious explanations for a pretty obvious joke.
For instance, here’s Ulaby again, talking about Hannibal Buress, a comedian and writer for NBC’s 30 Rock, who uses the phrase: “‘That’s racist’ works in comedy, Buress says, because it pushes buttons.” Okay. How does it push buttons? Why does it push buttons?
We’re never told. Instead, we get a NPR tutorial on the persistence of racism. “Scholar Regina Bradley says it also works because racism’s often expressed differently than from a generation or two ago,” Ulaby explains. “The segregated neighborhoods and swimming pools of Bradley’s grandparents have yielded to more subtle forms of discrimination. That’s reflected in how ‘that’s racist’ is being used — to shut down conversations or as a joke.”
But what’s the joke? We don’t find out until a 14-year-old-boy says it plainly: “I think I or other people just sort of do it as a way of mocking people who are overly sensitive about race issues.”
NPR could have done the whole story in 30 seconds. But instead it spent more than five minutes trying to grapple with a wonderful yet utterly inconvenient truth for the ostentatiously liberal network: Young people just aren’t as uptight about race as their parents, never mind their grandparents, are. And, by the way, the days of segregated swimming pools and neighborhoods haven’t merely “yielded” to “more subtle forms of discrimination”; they’ve yielded to — wait for it — less discrimination.
No, racism hasn’t vanished. And the legacy of racism has a long half-life.
But the simple fact is “that’s racist” is the sort of thing those darn kids today say to make fun of their aging Gen X and baby-boomer parents.
It’s also a common joke among conservatives, precisely because we’re used to being called racists for the weirdest things. If I write on Twitter something about how I don’t like “Obamacare,” some fellow right-winger will immediately respond with some variant of “that’s racist!”
And that’s the joke. And the people who’ve spent the last few decades screaming “that’s racist,” not as a punch line but as a heinously unfair accusation or in an attempt to bully people, don’t seem to get that the joke is on them.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
It’s been one on FR for years.
This column is racist.
What is it with these NPR names? Would Mary Smith have to change her name to something more exotic?
Nah. The column is okay...you're a racist (ahem)
Tjis post is the most racist I’ve even seen on FR. Man that’s racist of me.
Like flash mobs.
‘Okay, so apparently the reason these kids say thats racist is that theyre not too bright.’
Now THAT’S racist.
“...damn near killed ‘em!”
My Health Insurance company wrote me a letter stating that my premiums will be rising next year. I told my in laws that I thought rates were supposed to go down under ObamaCare. My father in law jokingly said,”maybe your insurance company is racists.”
I think the race charge the left has been using to deflect critisism and debate is falling flat.
I sold some pro electronics to a couple of guys yesterday from Kenya. They were VERY nice guys and, believe it or not, we actually got along great and, if I were not moving to Kentucky, we could have become friends. When they left, I mentioned to my wife, why is it that all the black people I can relate to and I enjoy being around are not born in the US?
It is when I realized that there is more truth than I realized in what I’ve been saying since high school (70-72): I’m not a racist. I’m a culturist. It is black CULTURE that I really hate, not black people. And I hate it more than ever.
But, like the rest of the black people I take one on one like everybody else, these two guys were not part of the black culture. They were merely people who, racially, happened to be negro.
True story. Back in the '60s my sister and I had to move from New York City to South Carolina for family reasons. One day my sister and wife (from PA) go to the laundromat. When they come back they mention that "people are weird down here". I asked her what she meant and she said they had "White" and "Colored" signs over the washers, so they dutifully separated their "colored" clothes from the "white". She said people, including blacks, stared at them. It's got to be a family joke.
“That’s Racist”...the words idiots have to use to win arguments...
” Thats Racist...the words idiots have to use to win arguments... “
I once pointed out to my favorite Lib that, throughout the course of our conversations, she was the only one who referred to Pres. Obama’s race....
Her response?? Apparently, my *not* making an issue of race makes me a racist...
I went to college at New Jersey Institute of Technology (formerly Newark College of Engineering). The campus surrounds 3/4 of Newark Central High School, which could be your stereotypical inner city high school - a wasteland.
Some of the NJIT students were from Nigeria, Kenya, and the Carribean. They did NOT think highly at all of the inner city “culture”.
I worked in a place where we employed people of all different ethnic backgrounds. I found that the Africans were just the sweetest people. They all had a great attitude, were hardworking and were genuinely nice. Most, not all, but most of the African Americans had an entitlement attitude. Many were lazy and had a severe chip on their shoulders. And if we dared fire any of them for doing a poor job they yelled “racism”. It really is the culture that is the problem.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.