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Monday, June 5, 2017

@BillMaher didn't call anybody a nigger, MSM needs a grammar lesson

Watching the morning news on my day off, I saw many commentators correctly criticize President Trump for using a quote out of context in his racist twitter attack on London Mayor Sadiq Khan. While they were pretty uniform in pointing out the dishonest way that Trump used Mayor Khan's words, they also uniformly failed to identify it as a racist attack, but we all know the Mayor of London is being attacked by Trump because he is a prominent Muslim, they same way Trump has attacked a federal judge for having Mexican ancestry, and claimed a past US president was born in Kenya. We have a racist president. That is the simple truth of the matter.


When the news got to the scandal surrounding Bill Maher calling himself a "house-nigger," they refused to provide the context. Even the paper of record, the New York Times ran a piece by Wesley Morris, that never bothered to define the word, let alone, go into its history:
The flap over his language transpired during a weekend of more terrorism in London, and at the end of a week in which a racist spray-painted a slur on a LeBron James home in Los Angeles; and Portland, Ore., braced itself for a white supremacist rally. Mr. Maher’s incident seems fit for the basket labeled “Life’s too short.”

He didn’t commit a hate crime. He overstepped his privilege as a famous comedian. That’s all. But if he crossed a line, it’s one that, for white people, has never moved.
From The Washington Post we get this description of the incident that caused the flap:
He was exchanging small talk with Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who represents Nebraska. “I’ve got to get to Nebraska more,” Maher said. “You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us,” the senator noted.

“Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house n––––r,” Maher said.
Unlike the NY Times, the Post deemed it inappropriate to even to spell out the word, but neither did it provide the context or a definition. As a consequence, both papers, and virtually every other commentator I'm heard on this subject, has made a basic error in accusing Bill Maher of using the "n-word," when it point of fact, he didn't.

The word Bill Maher used was "house nigger," which is an open compound word. It has the same relationship to "nigger" as "ice cream" has to "ice" or "cream", "French fry," has to "fry", "land mine" to "mine", etc. If you were thirsty and I sold you a bottle of salt water, you would feel conned, and rightfully so. Not only is it illegitimate to use one part of a compound word to claim that word was used, it is bad grammar. I'm sorry to have to give grammar lessons to the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post, but until I can beat a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, by showing the judge that I was wearing a belt, I will understand that Bill Maher did not use the word "nigger," he used the word "house nigger," which has another meaning entirely.

In this case context may be even more important that in the case of the President's tweets about the London mayor, because while the term "nigger" is most often used as pejorative racial term, especially when it is spray painted on someone's home, "house nigger" is not a pejorative racial term, it is a pejorative class term, generally used by those who see the "field niggers" as representing the best people in that equation. In other words, the derogatory character of the word "house nigger" attaches to the "house" part of this compound word, not the "nigger" part. No one in the media seems to get that.

What these Times and Post pieces failed to do, what all the MSM [that I have watched so far this AM] has failed to do, in fairness to both Bill Maher and their audiences, is to properly set the context or define the word, and you can not do that without reference to Malcolm X's famous speech about the house nigger and the field Negro. I have no doubt that is what Bill Maher was referring to, but the Times and Post don't mention it.

"House nigger" or "house Negro" are class terms that developed within the context of racial slavery, they can only be understood in relationship to their complement, the "field nigger" or "field Negro." One of the earliest references to these class categories was found in Report of the Committee of the African Institution. London: William Phillips, George Yard, Lombard Street. 1807:
A wretched old woman came to me a few days ago, to tell me she was compelled to work in the field. She was a favourite house-negro in her former master's family, and had nursed one of his children. Being ordered to throw a mixture of gunpowder and salt-water on the mangled bodies of the negroes whipped in the market-place, she refused, and incurred the displeasure of her master; and her intellects have since been evidently disordered.
Here we can clearly see that these 19th century Englishman considered "house-negro" to be one word because they hyphenated it in their written report. [ From this short passage it would appear that then they hyphenated many compound words that we now don't: salt-water, market-place. ]   With Bill Maher we are dealing with the spoken word, so the dishonest transcribers can write it anyway they want. If they were honest they would hear Bill Maher say "house-nigger," with a pause between the two phrases shorter than between individual words and would have accurately transcribed it as "house-nigger," but that would have ruined their whole game, wouldn't it?

Now as to the meaning of the word house-negro or house-nigger.

Since the categories of "House Negro" and "Field Negro" have only been used in association with the other, and since they have been used almost exclusively by African American people to describe African American people, they can't be understood as racial categories, only as class categories, or to put the matter more bluntly, as class differences within a group that has been socially isolated by national oppression. "House Negro" is not an exact synonym for "house nigger," and as metaphors they have much wider application that must not be lost because certain parts of words are banned,

The indispensable modern context in which to understand the concept of the house nigger and the field Negro is Malcolm X's "Message to the Grass Roots" on 10 November 1963.

Here an important a matter of definition should be clarified. Malcolm X makes clear in the first paragraph of his speech that he is speaking to all people of color, and that he identifies all non-white people as Negroes:
We’re her problem. The only reason she has a problem is she doesn’t want us here. And every time you look at yourself, be you black, brown, red, or yellow — a so-called Negro — you represent a person who poses such a serious problem for America because you’re not wanted.
It is therefore a racial term to the same extent and in the same way that "non-white" is a racial term. Ditto, the way he uses the word "black":
The white man knows what a revolution is. He knows that the black revolution is world-wide in scope and in nature. The black revolution is sweeping Asia, sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution — that’s a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia. Revolution is in Africa. And the white man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America. How do you think he’ll react to you when you learn what a real revolution is?
In this period, Malcolm X saw all people of color as being on the right side of the struggle and the "white man" or "white power structure" as being the oppressor, but we are particularly interested it what he had to say about contradictions among the people of color:
To understand this, you have to go back to what young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro — back during slavery. There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, because we’ve still got some house niggers running around here.
Malcolm's description of the house nigger hits too close to home for most of Bill Maher's critics to give it its due. That is why they failed to mention it.

Malcolm went on to describe the field Negro:
On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn’t get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call ’em “chitt’lin’” nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That’s what you were — a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters.

The field Negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; He wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro — remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn’t try and put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he’d die. If someone come to the field Negro and said, “Let’s separate, let’s run,” he didn’t say “Where we going?” He’d say, “Any place is better than here.” You’ve got field Negroes in America today. I’m a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man’s house on fire, you don’t hear these little Negroes talking about “our government is in trouble.” They say, “The government is in trouble.”
When Malcolm X said "The masses are the field Negroes," he wasn't just talking about people with African heritage, he was talking about most of the people in the world. He made this very important distinction between the house-Negroes and the field-Negroes, so that he could explain what was really happening in the civil rights movement at the time. He then told how the famous 1963 March on Washington was corrupted by house-Negroes like Martin Luther King, Jr. His lessons are still very relevant today:
When Martin Luther King failed to desegregate Albany, Georgia, the civil-rights struggle in America reached its low point. King became bankrupt almost, as a leader. Plus, even financially, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was in financial trouble; plus it was in trouble, period, with the people when they failed to desegregate Albany, Georgia. Other Negro civil-rights leaders of so-called national stature became fallen idols. As they became fallen idols, began to lose their prestige and influence, local Negro leaders began to stir up the masses. In Cambridge, Maryland, Gloria Richardson; in Danville, Virginia, and other parts of the country, local leaders began to stir up our people at the grassroots level. This was never done by these Negroes, whom you recognize, of national stature. They controlled you, but they never incited you or excited you. They controlled you; they contained you; they kept you on the plantation.

As soon as King failed in Birmingham, Negroes took to the streets. King got out and went out to California to a big rally and raised about — I don’t know how many thousands of dollars come to Detroit and had a march and raised some more thousands of dollars. And recall, right after that ] Wilkins attacked King, accused King and the CORE of starting trouble everywhere and then making the NAACP get them out of jail and spend a lot of money; and then they accused King and CORE of raising all the money and not paying it back. This happened; I’ve got it in documented evidence in the newspaper. Roy started attacking King, and King started attacking Roy, and Farmer started attacking both of them. And as these Negroes of national stature began to attack each other, they began to lose their control of the Negro masses.

The Negroes were out there in the streets. They were talking about how they were going to march on Washington. Right at that time Birmingham had exploded, and the Negroes in Birmingham remember, they also exploded. They began to stab the crackers in the back and bust them up 'side their head' yes, they did. That's when Kennedy sent in the troops, down in Birmingham. After that, Kennedy got on the television and said "this is a moral issue." That's when he said he was going to put out a civil-rights bill. And when he mentioned civil-rights bill and the Southern crackers started talking about how they were going to boycott or filibuster it, then the Negroes started talkingロabout what? That they were going to march on Washington, march on the Senate, march on the White House, march on the Congress, and tie it up, bring it to a halt, not let the government proceed. They even said they were going out to the airport and lay down on the runway and not let any airplanes land. I'm telling you what they said. That was revolution. That was revolution. That was the black revolution.

It was the grass roots out there in the street. It scared the white man to death, scared the white power structure in Washington, D.C., to death; I was there. When they found out that this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital, they called in Wilkins, they called in Randolph, they called in these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them, "Call it off." Kennedy said, "Look, you all are letting this thing go too far." And Old Tom said, "Boss, I can't stop it, because I didn't start." I'm telling you what they said. They said, "I'm not even in it, much less at the head of it." They said, "These Negroes are doing things on their own. They're running ahead of us." And that old shrewd fox, he said, "If you all aren't in it, I'll put you in it. I'll put you at the head of it. I'll endorse it. I'll welcome it. I'll help it. I'll join it."

A matter of hours went by. They had a meeting at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. The Carlyle Hotel is owned by the Kennedy family; that's the hotel Kennedy spent the night at, two nights ago; it belongs to his family. philanthropic society headed by a white man named Stephen Currier called all the top civil-rights leaders together at the Carlyle Hotel. And he told them, "By you fighting each other, you are destroying the civil-rights movement. And since you're fighting over money from the liberals, let us set up what is known as the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. Let's form this council and all the civil-rights organizations will belong to it, and we'll use it for fund-raising purposes." Let me show you how tricky the white man is. As soon as they got formed, they elected Whitney Young as its chairman, and who do you think became the co-chairman? Stephen Currier, the white man, a millionaire. Powell was talking bout it down at Cobo Hall today. This is what he was talking about. Powell knows it happened. Randolph knows happened. Wilkins knows it happened. King knows it happened. Every one of that Big Six, they know happened.

Once they formed it, with the white man over it, he promised them and gave them $800,000 to split up among the Big Six; and told them that after the march was over they'd give them $700,000 more. A million and a half dollars split up between leaders that you have been following, going to jail for, crying crocodile tears for. And they're nothing but Frank James and Jesse James and the what-do-you-call-'em brothers.

As soon as they got the setup organized, the white man made available to them top public-relations experts, opened the news media across the country at their disposal, which then began to project these Big Six as the leaders of the march. Originally they weren't even in the march. You were talking this march talk on Hastings Street, you were talking march talk on Lenox Avenue, and on Fillmore Street, and on Central Avenue, and 32nd Street and 63rd Street. That's where the march talk was being talked. But the white man put the Big Six at the head of it; made them the march. They became the march. They took it over. And the first move they made after they took it over, they invited Walter Reuther, a white man; they invited a priest, a rabbi, and an old white preacher, yes, an old white preacher. The same white element that put Kennedy into powerロlabor, the Catholics, the Jews, and liberal Protestants; the same clique that put Kennedy in power, joined the march on Washington

It's just like when you've got some coffee that's too black, which means it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep. This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it. They didn't integrate it, they infiltrated it. They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. It ceased to be angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. You had one right here in Detroit. I saw it on television, with clowns leading it, white clowns and black clowns. I know you don't like what I'm saying, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Because I can prove what I'm saying. If you think I'm telling you wrong, you bring me Martin Luther King and A. Philip Randolph and James Farmer and those other three, and see if they'll deny it over a microphone.

No, it was a sellout. It was a takeover. When James Baldwin came in from Paris, they wouldn't let him talk, because they couldn't make him go by the script. Burt Lancaster read the speech that Baldwin was supposed to make; they wouldn't let Baldwin get up there, because they know Baldwin is liable to say anything.
Most of the journalist that have been attacking Bill Maher "for using the n-word," are house-niggers for capitalism, so they have good reasons for confusing the subject while hiding the real class content of what he was saying. Anyway, the best thing about this little dustup caused by Bill Maher's gaffe is that it gives us an opportunity to revisit Malcolm X's very important "Message to the Grass Roots:"



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