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Some lies are long a-dying

Future historians will doubtless be wary of books on the history of the Negro in the United States when they find the word “Negro” being displaced by the word “Black” in the 1960s and 1970s – just as they are wary of books on German history in the era when the word “Aryan” became fashionable. … The history of the Negro American began to be chronicled, and was being well-chronicled, before “Black” became fashionable. … The “Black Studies” movement has tended to inflame the subject without proportionately illuminating it, and has become the Trojan Horse of a new racism.

(Daniel Boorstin, ‘The Democratic Experience’, 1973)

It’s more than 40 years since Daniel wrote this – and less than 4 since I first saw “All Lives Matter” called racist by those who shout “Black Lives Matter”.

– I’ve read minutes of meetings of tiny lefty groups in Victorian London where other members patiently explained to Karl Marx that his theories had flaws. Since then, the world has been force-fed a huge slice of socialism. You might have thought it died in the 90’s – or at least transmogrified into watermelonish (green on the outside, red on the inside) environmentalism, but Sanders and Corbyn want to put us back on the straight stuff.

– In late 1991, before the first gulf war faded and the recession kicked in, I recall a UK article explaining why the Democratic presidential hopefuls were being called (by their unhappy US media friends) “the seven dwarfs”. It listed the failings of each in turn; 5th on the list came Clinton, whose dwarfishness was because of sleaze and even more because “The Democrats know that more sleaze is coming on the Clintons.” (‘Clintons’, plural, even then, IIRC.) Well, that was true, but across-the-pond had 8 years of Clintons and just missed having a second helping.

When mainsteam media like you, your lies are long a-dying. The new racism (anti-semitic, like the old) is still on its first growth cycle. I am so ready to reach Boorstin’s future when historians will “doubtless” doubt it.

[Boorstin’s quote is on page 648 of the Pheonix Press 2000 paperback edition]

35 comments to Some lies are long a-dying

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    From Negro to Colored (in the US spelling) to Black to African-American to People of Color

    I am willing to make a reasonable effort to refer to anyone by whatever term they prefer, so long as I am not being asked to betray my own convictions in the use a term. None of the above do that, although given that one of the arguments made for each new term as it came into fashion was that it was best at influencing white people to not be racist, I’d say that “Black” was best at that job, being a simple parallel to “white”.

    But it scarcely matters which of them is actually best, even if we could decide what “best” means. The point is to keep the slang used by the cool kids ahead of the uncool kids’ pathetic attempts to keep up.

  • There is something drastically wrong with any group that has to change its name every five or ten years.

  • mhjhnsn

    Relatedly, you can’t trust anything written about Islam after about 2001, because most of the more recent stuff sandpapers the rough or difficult edges.

  • Brian Swisher

    Back when I was in high school, I remember watching The Flip Wilson Show when guest George Carlin confessed to being confused about the changing signals on this matter. “You know,” he said, “ten years ago, it was, ‘Who you callin’ “black!?”‘” (mimes punching someone) “Baboom! Now it’s, ‘Who you callin’ “negro!?”‘ Baboom!”

    Yeah, you could actually joke about stuff like that on network TV back then.

  • Watchman


    Don’t use racial labels at all perhaps – the colour of your skin has no identifiable value in telling you anything about a person, unless you are a genealogist.


    It’s not the members of the group – it’s those trying to control them through their identity. The changes in name are simply a result of old groups trying to retain control and new groups trying to assert control through an identity with no fixed meaning (you can’t do the same with a nationality identity, or even gender) and therefore new formulations coming in vogue to allow the true believers to be identified by their use of the correct term.

  • Laird

    “inflame the subject without proportionately illuminating it” is a wonderful phrase.

    Watchman, your first paragraph is ludicrous. “no identifiable value”? That is simply preposterous. It all depends upon context. It’s extremely valuable if I’m describing a crime suspect, for example, and in countless other circumstances, too.

    Your second paragraph, however, makes a good point.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course the media are racialist (“racist”) otherwise they would not obsess about how much “ethnic minorities” (as collective groups) were earning or what percentage of X group was in what jobs.

    But because it is racialism of the “left” (Frankfurt School of Marxism racialism), not of the “right” the racialism is supposedly O.K.

    Ditto the media obsession with what “women” (as a collective group – not individuals in individual jobs) are being paid, and what percentage of women (as a collective group) are in what jobs.

    It is not even honest egalitarianism (if there is such a thing as honest egalitarianism) – as when men are disadvantaged (as in the “family law” system) the media could not care less, and nor do they care that fewer boys than girls now do well at school or go to university – this does not offend their egalitarian sensibilities, any more than women living longer than men offends their egalitarianism.

    As for racialism.

    Normally one would measure who was being killed and who was being driven out.

    But if one points out that far more white Americans are killed by black Americans than the other way round – one is called a Nazi.

    Ditto if one points out who has been driven out of so many American cities over many decades – call Ethnic Cleansing “White Flight” and one can BLAME THE VICTIMS.

    Of course it is demented to blame all black people for the actions of the “Black Panthers”, “Black Lives Matter” and other racialist groups – black people are INDIVIDUALS.

    But it is also demented to blame all white people for the actions of the KKK and other racialist groups – as white people are also INDIVIDUALS.

    The education system denies this – with their, Frankfurt School of Marxism, definition of racialism as a “Power Structure” and a matter of “White Privilege”.

  • Thailover

    Negro, (Latin for black), ni***r, negro again, colored people, black again, Afro-American, black again, people of color, (Oprah’s favorite), African American, and yet again black. If you call People of Color, Colored People by mistake, its your ass.

    The idea is that each of these terms gain negative connotation. Perhaps people should ask where the connotation comes from. For example, when people say, ‘skill level: Asian’, its not a pejorative.

    Changing labels is ridiculous. We no longer have pets. We have animal companions. Watches are out. Now we have time pieces. The list goes on.

  • Thailover

    Natalie wrote, ” I am willing to make a reasonable effort to refer to anyone by whatever term they prefer, so long as I am not being asked to betray my own convictions in the use a term.”

    I don’t use African American because I dislike being called a European American. I’m an American. Full Stop. Have you noticed how American PCers don’t know how to address black UKers?

  • Laird

    I propose that we go back to the old term “blackamoor”. And call their offspring “pickaninnies”. That should settle everyone down.

  • I notice that “Negros” has generally stable marriages, robust employment, and low crime rates, compared to the “Blacks”. Must have been an immigration wave in there somewhere.

  • Ferox

    “People of color” is a fundamentally different term than the others … it is meant to separate and dehumanize whites, as it includes everyone who is not white. It implies that there is a set of human experiences shared by everyone who isn’t white – that whites are therefore distinct and less-than.

    If that doesn’t seem bothersome, imagine creating a term to describe the shared experience of everyone who isn’t black – say, “People of light”. Then imagine trying to use it in a conversation without getting mobbed.

  • bobby b

    People of pallor?

  • bobby b (September 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm), your “People of Pallor” suggests only those very pale skinned, and so is the complement to People of Colour, whereas Ferox (September 20, 2017 at 6:20 pm) term “People of Light” suggests all those not wholly black and so is the comparable term to People of Colour.

    That said, I could hardly care less about the terms used in and of themselves. ‘Black’ was the term of choice in the 60s and 70s by those Boorstin criticised. Today, the “Trojan Horse of a new racism” is still using the term ‘Black’ (as in BLM, etc.) – when it isn’t calling itself anti-zionism, anti-islamophobia and other terms – but, as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so racism by any other name will stink as sour.

  • QET

    –tended to inflame the subject
    –it’s your ass
    –getting mobbed

    This is the element common to the frequent changes in nomenclature. Vocational blacks (the term I use to describe black people whose thoughts and actions center on being black) in the US have a very deep resentment toward white people (all white people, any white person), a true hatred, and an irrepressible psychic urge to lash out at whites, vehemently and sometimes violently. Changing the name just provides them with a convenient pretext for satisfying this urge. The root belief of such people is that any name for them used by whites must be offensive because it is white people using it.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just for the record, the gentleman’s last name was Boorstin, not “Boorstein.”

  • Thailover

    g written about Islam after about 2001, because most of the more recent stuff sandpape. rs the rough or difficult edges.”

    The Leftist government schools have been whitewashing history for (at least) 50 years. How many people know that Muslim slave trade predated “western” slavery by 700 years, and it was the “evil white man” that put an end to slavery? How many people know that Native Americans owned slaves too, and continued to after the civil war?

  • Jacob

    “Watches are out. Now we have time pieces.”

    Cooks are out, now we have only chefs.

  • Julie near Chicago (September 20, 2017 at 7:50 pm), many thanks for your correction. (It was a typical ‘write it wrong once, cut&paste everywhere’. 🙁 )

    I have now corrected it to Boorstin in the article.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Niall, I hate to be the one, but while you are on the subject of corrections, it’s “sleaze” not “slease”.

    Most comments on your post so far, including mine, concentrated on only the first of your three topics. Moving on to the second, I don’t think socialism will ever lose its attraction. No evidence of how it works in practice will ever be enough. I’ve got an interesting book called Structures of Social Life: The Four Elementary Forms of Human Relations by Alan Page Fiske. The four forms he cites are Communal Sharing, Authority Ranking, Equality Matching, and Market Pricing. Brief explanation here. Fiske certainly doesn’t say that Market Pricing is superior to the others – all have their place in different contexts – but it is the hardest to grasp intellectually. Some people just don’t get it.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Why don’t most Americans just call themselves, “Non-African-Americans”? Gets around any colour references.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Not more history-correction! Leave it as Boorstein! Are you in Oceania now, Natalie?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Sorry, meant ‘Niall’. But in line with my own policy, I will not correct history.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . 5th on the list came Clinton, whose dwarfishness was because of slease and even more because “The Democrats know that more slease is coming on the Clintons.” (‘Clintons’, plural, even then, IIRC.) Well, that was true, but across-the-pond had 8 years of Clintons and just missed having a second helping.”

    I don’t see the lie here.

    We elect our leaders now (maybe arguably we always have) on an “ends justify the means” basis. If a candidate stands a good chance of accomplishing what we want accomplished in governance, it’s not that we deny their flaws; we simply don’t care.

    I doubt you’d find too many Hillary supporters by 2016 who would argue that she was honest and forthright and a nice person. There was no lie involved in their acceptance and defense of her – they simply didn’t care about her many obvious character flaws. What she could do for them was what counted.

    Conservatives brought up many of her past acts and attitudes that should seemingly have disqualified her from holding public office. The answering attitude wasn’t “no she didn’t”, it was “so what?”

    Conservatives do the same thing. Good Lord, we elected Donald Trump to our presidency – and we’re (mostly) still very happy about it. This was a guy I would not want my sons emulating (except for the money part). We did not see him as a man of stellar good character. We voted for him because the ends he could possibly lead us to justified electing him to a very powerful position.

    So, I don’t see any lie here – merely intense cynicism and results-oriented versus process-oriented voting.

  • Ferox

    What’s wrong with electing someone because you like their policies?

    Expecting your politicians to be moral leaders is foolish. They don’t live in monasteries. The last politician I can recall who was an abstaining teetotaler with no history of improper relations or immoral habits ended up killing millions of people in concentration camps.

    Give me a drinking, womanizing card cheat who steals candy from babies any day, so long as the policies he advocates are the policies I advocate too.

  • tomsmith

    You won’t find many politicians advocating policies these days. They mostly just seem to want power, and do whatever the civil servants tell them to do.

  • Ferox

    Yeah, that’s a good point 😥

  • Natalie Solent (Essex), September 20, 2017 at 9:31 pm, you are so right, and not just about the spelling of sleaze, which I have now corrected. I had thought it one of the many words that are ‘z’ in American English and ‘s’ in UK English, but the Shorter Oxford assures me (on page 2016 – how appropriate 🙂 ) that it dates from 1644 (or earlier) meaning thin or flimsy in texture, acquired a figurative meaning of anything that was flimsy or lacking in substance in 1645, and that I could spell it ‘sleezy’ without solecism but must use ‘z’. The American (and now world-wide) usage of the word is completely ignored by this dictionary, published in 1973.

    Yes, the idea of socialism will never die but I (and, I expect, you) did not expect to see a ‘same old words, not just same old thing’ form of it becoming so prominent in the US and the UK just twenty-five years after 1990. The post before mine – “The Prime Minister is so vile has something to do with it over here, and in the US a Democrat voter looking at primary candidate Clinton was understandably interested in almost any alternative, but that is not the whole story.

  • bobby b (September 21, 2017 at 1:44 am), not only has there much media denying and downplaying of Clintonish sleaze, financial and otherwise, in the years between 1991 and now, but there seems a contradiction between your argument and mainstream media’s considerable efforts in that regard. No doubt many who voted for Clinton or for Trump or for a third candidate thought (about several things), “Yes, I know, but I think the alternative is even worse” – or, as you suggest, “Yes I know and I don’t care” – but many media types invested much time in pushing the line that Trump mocked a reporter’s disability or that Clinton’s server was only used to send birthday greetings, etc. After twenty-five years, it could be that they are just going through the motions – it could be that slow sea changes are happening – but I think not even in 2016 and I’m sure not in 91, when Clinton was the new thing. (The phrase, “cooling off the mark” comes to mind as regards changing attitudes.)

    As regards sea changes, I suspect the Clintons personally are now finally gone – from being electable, though not to jail; alas, socialism is anything but.

  • bobby b

    Niall, I draw a large distinction between the electorate and the press. The press has largely transformed into explicit shills for one side or the other, and so the protestations they make concerning Hillary’s qualities, to me, are naught more than campaign sloganeering.

    Polls of voters – of all stripes – make it clear that few of them considered Hillary to be trustworthy or honest. IIRC, in one major poll several months before the election, 70% agreed that she was untrustworthy – and that’s such a hard thing to admit of your own candidate that I have to believe the true number was higher. I also believe that it likely got worse closer to the election, with the Comey theater. Hillary conceded exactly this in the final months of her campaign. And yet she received almost half of the vote.

    I suppose that, simply based on what she and her campaign continued to claim, there was a lie being advanced, but there were very few takers.

    (ETA: As I think about this, I suppose that this actually does fit in your thesis, if we consider this to have been an extremely long-tailed lie, and we simply saw it at it’s final, overdue death.)

  • Thailover

    Jacob, used cars are out. Now we have certified preowned vehicles.

  • Alisa

    Bobby, to your point but without objecting to it, one must keep in mind that for a while now of all US citizens who at the time were eligible to vote, only about half have been bothering to actually get out and do that in presidential elections. In my mind, it may have something to do with the quality of the various candidates (both real and perceived), among other factors.

  • Watchman


    To pick up a point from yesterday, I don’t think there is any more problem with describing someone’s skin colour than their hair colour or the colour of their jumper (it is the most difficult of the three to change, but all are relevant if you are describing a person). But that is purely descriptive – to make one of those descriptive features ‘racial’ and the other two simply categories for describing someone is arbitrary. And the potential mistake here is that in defending the right to describe someone as black (and it would be a very stupid police officer who took time out of getting a description to lambast your use of language – I look forward to hearing about this happening soon…) you tie it up with the ability of identitarians to tell people that they are black as a racial identity. In effect, by playing their little game of quibbling about proper labels for the group they claim to lead/represent then you reinforce it. Just describe people how they are (and not all ‘black’ people can really be described as black anyway – there is a range of skin shades) and assume they are an individual.

    Race is a constructed identity, and someone is doing the construction – I’d recommend avoiding anything constructed by the sort of person who would build an identity around something as simple as a common physical feature, because that person is not building anything good.

  • nemesis

    ‘Tinted Brethren’

  • Julie near Chicago

    And Sistren.


    *frown* Wouldn’t an untinted Brethren (or Sistren) be transparent? And hence, invisible? –I mean, “white” in this context is only a figure of speech.

    OTOH, the Sith was surely transparent, though cloaked enough to gather a majority of the Electoral College votes.