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‘That’s Racist’ - The accusation becomes a punch line.
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE ^ | July 6, 2011 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 07/06/2011 8:36:25 AM PDT by neverdem

'That's Racist'
The accusation becomes a punch line.

‘That’s racist.”

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.”

Bingo!

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.



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: npr; racism; racist; thatsracist

1 posted on 07/06/2011 8:36:28 AM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

It’s been one on FR for years.


2 posted on 07/06/2011 8:38:07 AM PDT by manic4organic (We won. Get over it.)
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To: neverdem

This column is racist.


3 posted on 07/06/2011 8:38:48 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: neverdem


4 posted on 07/06/2011 8:39:20 AM PDT by AAABEST (Et lux in tenebris lucet: et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt)
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To: neverdem

What is it with these NPR names? Would Mary Smith have to change her name to something more exotic?


5 posted on 07/06/2011 8:39:22 AM PDT by Genoa (Starve the beast.)
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To: neverdem
This article is racist.


6 posted on 07/06/2011 8:40:11 AM PDT by Lazlo in PA (Now living in a newly minted Red State.)
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To: 1rudeboy
"This column is racist. "

Nah. The column is okay...you're a racist (ahem)

7 posted on 07/06/2011 8:41:06 AM PDT by blam
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To: neverdem

Tjis post is the most racist I’ve even seen on FR. Man that’s racist of me.

Never mind.


8 posted on 07/06/2011 8:41:13 AM PDT by papageo
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To: neverdem
“The segregated neighborhoods and swimming pools of Bradley’s grandparents have yielded to more subtle forms of discrimination."

Like flash mobs.

9 posted on 07/06/2011 8:41:37 AM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: neverdem

‘Okay, so apparently the reason these kids say “that’s racist” is that they’re not too bright.’

Now THAT’S racist.


10 posted on 07/06/2011 8:45:29 AM PDT by swain_forkbeard (Rationality may not be sufficient, but it is necessary.)
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To: neverdem

11 posted on 07/06/2011 8:45:45 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Genoa
Would Mary Smith have to change her name to something more exotic?

That's racist.

12 posted on 07/06/2011 8:48:02 AM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: neverdem

“...damn near killed ‘em!”


13 posted on 07/06/2011 8:51:40 AM PDT by Disambiguator
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To: dead

Ha!!!!!

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.


14 posted on 07/06/2011 8:53:06 AM PDT by LMAO ("Begging hands and Bleeding hearts will only cry out for more"...Anthem from Rush)
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To: swain_forkbeard

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.


15 posted on 07/06/2011 8:53:06 AM PDT by RobRoy (The US today: Revelation 18:4)
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To: neverdem
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.”

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.

16 posted on 07/06/2011 9:07:02 AM PDT by Oatka ("A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." –Bertrand de Jouvenel)
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To: neverdem

“That’s Racist”...the words idiots have to use to win arguments...


17 posted on 07/06/2011 9:13:45 AM PDT by FrankR (A people that values its privileges above its principles will soon lose both.)
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To: FrankR

” “That’s 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...

“idiots’, indeed.....


18 posted on 07/06/2011 9:29:20 AM PDT by Uncle Ike (Rope is cheap, and there are lots of trees...)
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To: RobRoy

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”.


19 posted on 07/06/2011 9:47:16 AM PDT by Fred Hayek (FUBO, the No Talent Pop Star pResident.)
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To: RobRoy

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.


20 posted on 07/06/2011 9:50:16 AM PDT by Trick or Treat (Palin/Bachmann 2012!)
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To: neverdem
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.”

Homeschooled child of a conservative two-parent family, I'd guess...except that would be racist.

21 posted on 07/06/2011 10:00:11 AM PDT by lonevoice (Where the Welfare State is on the march, the Police State is not far behind)
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To: neverdem
"aging Gen X and baby-boomer parents." That makes me feel OLD!
22 posted on 07/06/2011 10:03:43 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: neverdem

Must be good to be Jonah a hard working respectable conservative paid to forget every stinking failure of the Left.


23 posted on 07/06/2011 10:05:03 AM PDT by junta ("Peace is a racket", testimony from crime boss Barrack Hussein Obama.)
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To: RobRoy

I work in a place that has a wide variety of people including many who have moved to the US from other countries. I recently had a very long discussion with a young man from Africa. He is happily married and raising several young children. He moved here with the financial backing of his father who spent the entire family savings so his son could have a better life. The more we talked, the more I realized that in his home country, traditional family values of the kind that were so common here 60-100 years ago are still very much alive in other places we consider less economically developed. This young man really impressed me with his conservative views about saving and investing for the future, avoiding debt, supporting one’s extended family, raising the children with strong ties to the church etc. We even discussed his bewilderment with the pathologies present in the “african-american” community here in the U.S. He noted the huge differences between that culture and the one formed by groups of recent immigrants from Africa. We decided that some of the problems could be traced to the lasting legacies of slavery and segregation, but most could probably be explained by the breakdown of the traditional family, the abscence of fathers, the rejection of traditional morality and the permissiveness of the 1960s (yes, it affected all segments of our society), and a welfare system that rewards and enables the wrong behaviors. I think our country would do well to welcome more immigrants like this young man and his family. Perhaps they will bring with them some of what we seemed to have lost here.


24 posted on 07/06/2011 10:08:28 AM PDT by GuySwell
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To: neverdem

The two big ones with kids is “that’s racist” and “that’s gay/no homo”


25 posted on 07/06/2011 10:09:57 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: lonevoice

What we’re seeing is the beginning of the end of the race card.

It, and those who use it, are being MOCKED.

I really hope the NPRites are realizing this and begin wailing and gnashing their teeth.


26 posted on 07/06/2011 10:11:14 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter knows whom he's working for)
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To: blam; 1rudeboy
You're both racist.

Anyone who disagrees with me on that point is racist.

27 posted on 07/06/2011 10:14:47 AM PDT by Mr.Unique (The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.)
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To: MrB

I hope so too. They’re always at their funniest when they do that.


28 posted on 07/06/2011 10:16:57 AM PDT by lonevoice (Where the Welfare State is on the march, the Police State is not far behind)
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To: Trick or Treat
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.

And I, as an American black man, agree with you!

Truth is the truth, period.


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29 posted on 07/06/2011 2:14:27 PM PDT by rdb3 (The mouth is the exhaust pipe of the heart.)
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