Advertisement

Letters to the Editor

Doublespeak

September 2, 2009

Advertisement

To the editor:

With her call to her Republican audience for a “white hope” presidential candidate (Aug. 27), Rep. Lynn Jenkins unwittingly echoed a century-old call. It was 1908 when an incensed and urgent call went out for a “great white hope” to rise up and defeat Jack Johnson, the dangerous upstart who had just become the first black heavyweight champion of the world. With her explanation for her colorful language, Jenkins also echoed the doublespeak language of countless politicians. She said that “white hope” had no racial meaning. She added that it simply meant “bright lights” and said “I was unaware of any negative connotation.”

After time for reflection, Jenkins illustrated what she had learned about the art of apology: “If I offended somebody, obviously I apologize.” Throughout, she echoes no one more than Dr. Seuss, but upside down and in reverse. The popular Seuss verse goes: “I meant what I said/And I said what I meant/An elephant’s faithful/one hundred percent.” Jenkins’ language in verse might read: “I dare not say what I meant/The opposite is my intent/You can count on me to doublespeak/One hundred and ten percent.”

Imagine an apology reflecting the spirit of Seuss in prose: “I apologize for my recent use of ‘white hope’ at a political gathering. I was insensitive at the time to its hostile racial meaning. Such degrading language is inexcusable and has no place in our discourse. I vow to eliminate all such injurious terms from my own vocabulary.” Maybe impossible to imagine. Maybe, just maybe, a winner.

Comments

Eileen Jones 5 years, 3 months ago

Republicans have been sending dog whistle signals that the rest of us can hear, to their most gullible base, appealing to racism and suggesting violence against the president. Nobody is fooled. The are signaling that racism and violence are acceptable now that we have a black man in the White House.

The atmosphere is volatile and if Jenkins does not know it she does not belong in Washington, representing Kansas.

Ignorance is dangerous. Ignorance is inexcusable. Either she's ignorant or she issued a racial comment consciously or subconsciously.

The only way for her to get out of this would have been to issue a REAL apology IMMEDIATELY. She did not do that. It's too late now.

This comment has spread to the national blogosphere. It will hurt her in the next election.

normal_entire_route 5 years, 3 months ago

Nancy_Boy...like we weren't in a mess already...nice.

meggers 5 years, 3 months ago

Tom,

The proposed legislation only requires that any guns that are sold be registered. I'm friends with an avid gun enthusiast and he's mentioned for a long time that he can't believe how easy it is to purchase firearms at a gun show. He doesn't want his rights restricted, but like most of us based in reality, he recognizes that measures can certainly be taken to reduce gun violence, while still allowing law-abiding citizens to own guns.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 3 months ago

Ms Jenkins has gained nationwide fame with her stupid choice of words.

My father in law mentioned how Kansas made news again as we do when the legislature fails to support education and when Fred Phelps is running about. Lynn Jenkins has found her place.

weeslicket 5 years, 3 months ago

mr. nancy boy: " God please help us out of this mess." did God get us into this mess?

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

LO,

Then I guess you're ok with the mounting examples of senseless killings committed with guns that were easily obtained?

Colombine, etc.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

weeslicket (Anonymous) says…

"mr. nancy boy: ” God please help us out of this mess.” did God get us into this mess?"

Wasn't it God who was telling Bush what agenda to go with, such as going to war?

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

LO,

Anytime innocent people are killed for no reason, it bothers me - apparently it doesn't bother you.

And, what's your source for over 2 million crimes being prevented? And, how can we know whether they would have included violence or not?

Simply requiring the same regulation for gun shows as for regular gun shops seems quite reasonable to me, and not that onerous.

A background check would have shown that the Virginia Tech shooter had a history of mental illness, and would have prevented him from easily obtaining a gun.

Or do you think that all Americans have the simple and unregulated right to own guns? That would mean the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, convicted felons, etc.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

"It seems you care very little about giving up the right to self-defense, and would instead, based on extremely rare, isolated incidents, restrict the ability of 300 million people to exercise their constitutional rights."

Or perhaps just suggesting that you can regulate the militia well without infringing on the rights of people to bear arms. That would, though, require a willingness to think about the issue past 0/1.

jimmyjms 5 years, 3 months ago

"Exercising your right to own a firearm should be easy."

Say what? For everybody, regardless?

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

"It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense."

I see no contradiction with this in having gun purchasers educated on precision, safety, and discipline. Of course, the militia being lost of the changes of time, the original context is lost as well.

This being a separate issue from the mentally ill and convicted felons. Prior to 1800 mental illness was mostly not understood, and the mentally ill were just locked up in asylums. Since their free existence in society at large, then, is a product of us conferring rights on them that the founders themselves did not apparently consider, I can't see how the founders' views on the matter are particularly relevant.

and personally, it seems that restricting gun access to felons is just a waste of time, but it is a violation of both the social and legal contracts of our society, and generally on someone else's rights. Forfeiture of certain rights is the general response in such cases.

ksdivakat 5 years, 3 months ago

Imagine how life would be, if we all had just 1 person who followed us around all day and critiqued our every move and our every word? I wonder if we could be as perfect as we are all claiming to be? I mean, there is no possibility that Jenkins could have misspoke, right? And no way did she intend to apologize for it, in any matter. I would ask this, before you get your panties in a bunch, how about checking out Van Jones, white house special advisor, appointed by the Prez...a self proclaimed communist (who isnt apologizing for his stand) and most recently, he has been vidoe taped calling all republicans a@%holes......but, I guess thats ok since Obama appointed him, and since hes a democrat, then we will excuse the fact that there is a communist in the White House.....just a thought that made me go...hummmmm

funkdog1 5 years, 3 months ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

Noun 1. great white hope - someone (or something) expected to achieve great success in a given field;

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grea

Now I don't know what Jenkins actually intended, but this LTE seems to take the position that this phrase can never be used in any way that doesn't require an apology.


Liberty_One: You are correct. It's a phrase that should be relegated to the past, where it belongs.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

"My source is John Sigler, former president of the NRA."

Now there is an impartial source for ya!

ksdiva, it might disturb you, but it isn't against the law to be an American and a member of the Communist Party USA.

As far as someone following Jenkins' every move and every word, that simply isn't true. She said this at a public meeting! Yes, when elected people say stupid things in public meetings, they deserve to be called on it. Further, when your apology is simply to anyone who might have been offended, then that is no apology at all.

No, with the fall-out over this -- which has shown that she doesn't read the bills she votes on -- Jenkins should have just said "Yes, I think we need a White person to beat Obama in the next election." The question is, if she had said this would she have lost enough of her supporters to lose the next election?

ksdivakat 5 years, 3 months ago

beatrice....its also not against the law to be a racist. As long as you dont act on it. I was simply saying, that as much as people are cruicifying her over 3 words, imagine how our lives would be, if we had someone who followed us around all day and critiqued our every move. And by the way, it sends a definate hate message out of the white house to have a self proclaimed communist appointed as a special advisor, will he appoint a member of the KKK as well?

ksdivakat 5 years, 3 months ago

I clearly see the lefts position on this now, so its ok for 1 race or groupof people to be racist, but its entirely not for another? ok, typical, I get it. Van Jones is a menice to society, and hes been placed in a position of high athority and power, Jenkins is a lowly congress woman who probably misspoke, who knows, I dont, and neither do you or anyone else, you dont know her intent unless he told you. Thats my opinion, Im entitled to it, just as you are, and I dont put you down for your opinion, but you sure do take much pleasure in insulting me at every turn, I refuse to go to your level. God bless you logic!

Kryptenx 5 years, 3 months ago

ksdiva, you really should look up the definition of logic (and half the other terms you use) in a dictionary. What the hell does the KKK have to do with communism? The ignorance here is depressing.

Kryptenx 5 years, 3 months ago

Begging the question is a logical fallacy and only sounds good in your simple mind. The KKK is ideologically closer to fundamentalist christian republicans than any socialist/comnunist group anyways.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

She did not misspeak. She said exactly what she meant. I don't care what the dictionary says, great white hope means exactly that, white. People are always going to be racists, but they have to understand that they live in the same world with everyone else. What you do in your home is your business as long as it is legal. When you go out in public that is a whole different matter. If you want your child to only go to school with white Baptists then you will have to build a private school, and fund it, to accommodate that wish.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

ksdiva: "I was simply saying, that as much as people are cruicifying her over 3 words, imagine how our lives would be, if we had someone who followed us around all day and critiqued our every move."

If that is what you are simply saying, then why did you ignore where I pointed out that this wasn't about someone being followed around all day and having her every move critiqued, but rather is about words spoken while having the stage at a public meeting. Why you are conflating "speaking out at a public meeting" with "followed around all day and critquing every move"?

I could possibly understand where you are coming from were this a case of something overheard while she was having a beer with friends, but it isn't. This was what she said at a public gathering in which she was the focus of attention, shortly after having voted on a bill that used that very phrase in its historical and racial context. If you are an elected official and you say something this stupid in this type of situation, then you deserve to be ridiculed.

And true. It is not illegal to be a racist, just as it is not illegal to support and vote for someone who doesn't read the bills she votes for or proves herself to be not particularly bright. It isn't intelligent, but it also isn't illegal.

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

liberty, would this woman with mental illness you describe be defending herself from a real or an imagined rapist? Are you also claiming that all convicts should also have a right to defend themselves as well?

To argue that all people with mental illness are capable of defending themselves with a firearm in a rational and reasoned manner is taking a view of right to own to the extreme. If you have a mental condition that indicates that you may be a danger to yourself and others, then restricting gun rights is necessary.

Or do you also believe people should have the right to scream "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire because they have freedom of speech? Can't limit freedom, correct?

Left_handed 5 years, 3 months ago

Libtards posting here get their collective knickers knotted up over what Congressman Jenkins said, yet the left has chanted a continuous chorus of "black president, first black president, black president in the white house" ad infinitum. The former is somehow racist while the latter is not? Please explain that to me.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

If you're serious, LH, I will.

Celebrating the success of black people in America, who have been enslaved, lynched, denied the right to vote, etc. is not racist. It is, rather, an expression of the desire for our country to live up to the ideas of equality that it was founded upon.

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

logic,

It is true that the left seems to have different rules for different groups.

For example, Sotomayor's comment.

Of course, it's equally true of the right - I don't really understand the partisan stuff.

tbaker 5 years, 3 months ago

I could understand all this partisan vitriol if this stupid comment by Rep. Jenkins was yet another in a long series of similar remarks that formed some disturbing pattern - but it's not. On top of being human, she is a freshman member of congress who made a rookie mistake she obviously regrets, she clearly learned from, and has apologized for. After all, she's only been in office about 8 months. Isn't it prudent to withhold judgment at this early point in her career and just give her a chance?

beatrice 5 years, 3 months ago

liberty, how exactly is someone selling guns able to tell if someone is mentally stable? Gun sellers need to ask for medical records -- is that what you are suggesting?

jafs 5 years, 3 months ago

I believe the problem is that sellers at gun shows do not have to follow the same regulations as other sellers.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

"Libtards posting here get their collective knickers knotted up over what Congressman Jenkins said, yet the left has chanted a continuous chorus of “black president, first black president, black president in the white house” ad infinitum. The former is somehow racist while the latter is not? Please explain that to me."

Not that you'll probably read or actually think about this. . . but I'm kind of limited to the bed right now, so I will very clearly explain this to you, so you can ignore it and keep repeating your bogus example.

Now, here is the definition of racism, from wiki source to a dictionary

"Racism is the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

So, under the original context, the use of Great White Hope absolutely was racist, as it was looking for a white boxer to win over a black one and reaffirm the superiority of a white race. This is really rather obvious. Does Jenkin's comment count? No, I don't think it does. I think the only thing that this incident shows for her is that she's not particularly politically astute, or at least not politically experienced, because since the original remark every time she's opened her mouth she's dug her hole a little bit deeper.

Saying that its great that we have a black president, for most of us, is not affirming in any way the native superiority of the black race. I'm sure there are some few who do, but I don't answer for every idiot in the world. It is suggesting that our ability to elect a black president is The Exact Opposite of racism. We were able to put our preconceptions and history aside and acknowledge that just being not-white was not a disqualifier for office. It is a milestone for black people, the same as the first black man in baseball, basketball, congress, the fire department, on the bus, etc etc etc. was.

jonas_opines 5 years, 3 months ago

So, in other words, one is showing that we no longer let racial preferences cloud our choices (except for those who voted for him solely because he was black, and I don't see anybody here who's self-identified as doing so). The other shows a legacy of racism that can pop up knowingly or unknowingly even in modern times.

So I guess my followup is: why don't you try to defend your perception that the two things are the same. Can you do it in any way other than “both have something to do with race”?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.