There’s no reason for someone like me to say much about the Incognito matter, because Greg Howard has already sliced and diced the pro-Incognito argument into a million pieces, each of which is a 3 cubic inch block consisting of a 60%/40% mix of corn-fed beef and Stanozolol.
There’s one thing that Greg didn’t say, however, and it’s a point that I think is worth making: there are an awful lot of people who have a vested interest in seeing Incognito vindicated here. These are people who want to see a high profile white guy use the n-word and get away with it without being labeled a “racist,” which - according to them - is far worse than being the actual victim of racism.
You know the type? You see them on talk shows bemoaning the existence of affirmative action, because it is “forced” upon them, ignoring the actual forced conditions that called for its creation in the first place. The people who loudly protest that they’re somehow being disadvantaged based upon the actions of their ancestors, while ignoring the incredible privilege their ancestors continue to bestow upon them. Ignoring the fact that there’s been no “etch-a-sketch” moment in American history in which hundreds of years of power imbalance were magically wiped away and the scales of power reset. The people who cheered for George Zimmerman’s acquittal and who describe Trayvon Martin as a “thug,” instead of, you know, the gun-wielding maniac who confronted him without cause and then shot and killed him as soon as he’d lost control of the situation.
Those people would love to see Richie Incognito get a pass here. They’d love to hear that what they view as an out-of-control political correctness has finally been curbed. After all, they’ll repeat for the millionth time, black people use that word all the time. Why shouldn’t a white person use it, especially a white guy with the requisite and generally apocryphal “black friends”? Surely a white guy with black friends or black family members is incapable of behaving in a despicably racist fashion, right? And why does it always have to be about race anyway?
But there’s another group who wouldn’t mind seeing Incognito get a pass, and in some ways they’re even more insidious and wretched than the transparently repulsive retrograde people who can’t hide their racism. The John Mayers of the world. The wannabe Eminems. The frat boys and suburban teenagers who’ve grown up listening to Public Enemy and Ice Cube without ever actually hearing it. They’re down with the cause. They have tons of black friends. Some of those black friends don’t mind if they use that word. They want to use that word. John Mayer bragged about being able to use it. Why? Why do white people desperately need to have everything, including the right to participate in a word that they’re already responsible for poisoning beyond repair?
Is it because they want to show off to their white friends who can’t use the word? Is it to prove that they have access to a special club? To revel in the wide-eyed looks they get from their admirers, to bask in the scorn of the stuck-up politically correct crowd? Does it matter? There’s no scenario in which they’re not dying to use that word to somehow amplify their own self-image. To boast about their own status. To up themselves at the cost of nothing more than the most vile word in the English language, a symbol of oppression and hate, a term of derision and disgust.
There’s a word for people like that. For people willing to use a term that hurts other people, that harkens back to the greatest shame in our country’s history, that cuts to the core of our deepest wound which still bleeds to this day: and the term is racist. Sorry, I don’t care who told you that you have a pass, you don’t. I don’t care if you have a signed permission slip from every person on the planet. I don’t care what’s in your heart. There are a million words you could use instead of that one. Use one of them. And if you don’t, please don’t balk when I use my word of choice to describe you.