First of all, we need not pretend that by “Negro dialect” Reid meant the cartoon minstrel talk of Amos n Andy. After all, why would Reid, a rational human being under any analysis, be under the impression that any black person talks like Uncle Remus, much less be surprised that one of them does not? My guess is that he said “negro” in a passing attempt to name Black English in a detached, professional way, randomly choosing a slightly arcane and outdated term. Or, consider that Negro English was what scholars called “Ebonics” until the early seventies. Reid likely caught wind of that terminology -- he's been around a while, after all.
Indeed Reid implied that black dialect is less prestigious than standard, such that not speaking it made Obama more likely to become President. That is, he implied what we all think too: Black English is, to the typical American ear, warm, honest -- and mistaken. If that’s wrong, okay – but since when are most Americans, including black ones, at all shy about dissing Black English? And who among us -- including black people -- thinks someone with what I call a "black-cent" who occasionally popped up with double negatives and things like aks could be elected President, whether it's fair or not? Reid, again, deserves no censure for what he said unless we're ready to censure ourselves too.
and he closes out:
Reid implied that Black English is lesser than standard English and that it’s therefore good that Obama doesn’t use it in public. This is not about whether black people have to sweat to speak standard English; it’s about whether Black English is as good as standard English. Most of America black as well as white is at the exact same point in understanding vernacular speech and its proper evaluation as Reid is.
For which reason most of America should leave him alone about this and move on.
Indeed. Read the whole thing. Now for my money, Reid's comments were a messy, inartful, and off-putting way of touching on a debate that Americans of all colors are having to this day. It would be great if that debate could be furthered somehow, yet as usual, that debate has been replaced by the usual sideshow.
Two things: First off, the GOP equation of this with the Trent Lott incident is spectacularly, mind-numbingly off-base. Can smeone explain to me, even if you shine Reid's comments in tht e worst possible light, how acknowledging the fact that Obama is light-skinned, and doesn't speak Black English, compares to waxing poetically about voting for a segregationist in 1948? It's not even close, and what makes this worse, is that I think the GOP leadership knows this.
Secondly, one could ignore all this, and simply do as Liz Cheney does, and simply see this as liberals excusing other liberals. Or one could be sensible, and acknowledge context, much like unhinged left-winger George Will.
Now, make no mistake, politics is surely involved on the Democratic side as well, as I suspect a substantial factor in the rally behind Reid has to do with needing him in the Senate. That being said, the Dems have the benefit of being right on the merits, while the GOP's political cynicism is so obvious as not need pointing out. Michael Steele's own past efforts are proof of that.