"They all know each other / one another"; was, racism of older linguists

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 9 00:47:32 UTC 2009

Unthinking and creepy, perhaps, but hardly racist, sensu stricto.
"Racism of older linguists" strikes me as hardly appropriate for that
thread. I wouldn't consider any linguist who was merely older than I
am to be ipso facto a racist and, if you were to challenge me to name
a racist linguist who lived before any given date, I'd be hard put to
name one. There may be someone from the 19th c., maybe.

OT: Real racists claim that racism is inherent. For y'all - I mean,
"for readers," and not, "for real racists" - an anecdote.

At Davis, a classmate, the divorced mother of two young children, once
invited me to dinner. As we were eating, the younger son, a
five-year-old, blue-eyed towhead, as cute a little peckerwood as you'd
ever want to see, suddenly piped up, saying:

"You know what, Mommy? *Colored* people are *bad*! But *Wilson's* not
colored, is he?"

I found this to be touching, heart-wrenching, and angering. You
couldn't beat the poor child's logic, though:

Colored people are bad
Wilson appears to be colored
But, he's not bad
Hence, he's not colored

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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