A GOP ‘Bigot Eruption’?
U.S. Representative Geoff Davis has started a huge blogospheric outcry for allegedly using a racial slur directed at Barack Obama. Oliver Willis, among others, has described this as a “bigot eruption”. Here’s the offending remark:
Congressman Geoff Davis, took the criticisms of Mr. Obama a few steps further, likening the change slogan to the pitch of a “snake oil salesman.” He then relayed to the audience that he had taken party in a “highly classified, national security simulation” with Obama.
“I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,” Mr. Davis said. “He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country.”
The offending phrase here is the use of the term “that boy”, because in the South the word “boy” was often employed in the past as a degrading form of address for African-Americans.
That being said, I think that the claim here is a bit overblown. The context of the remarks that Davis made, while not particularly dignified, weren’t racially directed. Indeed, the primary complaint that Rep. Davis made about Obama was his naivete–race wasn’t mentioned at all. Additionally, as far as I can tell from a quick Google search of Rep. Geoff Davis, he doesn’t appear to have been associated with any type of derogatory racial remarks in the past.
So, given the context of both Rep. Davis’s remarks and his history, I don’t think it’s fair to say that Rep. Davis intended to make any kind of racially insensitive or racially derogatory remarks regarding Senator Obama. That said, being a Republican politician from Kentucky, he should probably know to watch his mouth a little better than that, because given the history of the region, it’s pretty easy to take offense at what he said.
Context is everything, people. You can’t judge a person or their meaning by one sentence or paragraph or word. You have to consider the context in which a particular statement is made, and the overall history and character of the person uttering it.