In a few seconds on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher show, the sad reality of U.S. culture was laid bare for all to see. First, a white man, Bill Maher, felt comfortable enough to casually use the N-word. Then, on top of that, a United States Senator, Benjamin Sasse (R-Nebraska), with black constituents, tacitly agreed with Bill Maher’s use of the N-word, saying absolutely nothing.
Senator Sasse wrote later he was surprised by the statement and that was the reason for his silence. But surely no one in who lives in the United States is unfamiliar with the N-word and its meaning. So, I do not accept Senator Sasse’s explanation. (Would he be that passive if someone he knows was insulted? Only he knows, but I suspect the answer is no.)
Note: Moreover, Senator Sasse stated he is a “First Amendment absolutist,” which apparently means that racial abusive language is supposed to be protected. In contrast, in the United Kingdom, racial abuse is a criminal offense. This situation shows that the United States still has a long way to go in resolving its moral failings and inhumanity due to chattel slavery. Attempting to force targets of racial abuse to accept racial abuse as licit will ultimately lead to disaster.
I have to say I was surprised by the anger towards use of the N-word by Maher, as hip-hop music sung by black music artists is often filled with extreme and excessive use of the N-word (and, at times, vulgar language). This music is popular and is sold internationally. So, people learning English will pick up language from U.S. chattel slavery. This situation should be held as absolutely disgusting, but it is not. The United States will have to reckon with its practice of chattel slavery and Jim Crow before liberally throwing this inhuman word around–by people like Maher and, indeed, anyone else.
As the blog stated in 2014–
- no young person,
- no singer,
- no newspaper,
- no journalist,
- no agent provocateur,
- no athlete,
- no actor
—nobody–can sanitize (or dare sanction the use of) this ugly word! There must be a full accounting of the blood spilled and denied humanity of Black people first (current time included). Once that is done, then the society will be able to take on the word, which if the corrective action would have been placed into effect, the word would disappear from the lexicon.
A few seconds in a TV show in 2017 captured the failure of the United States to reckon with its living legacy of chattel slavery. It has distorted the culture of the United States in harmful ways.
Note: After this post was published, the blog became aware of Ice Cube’s comment to Maher about the ownership of the n-word. The blog’s response is the same–the word is vile and must be removed from music lyrics sold for general consumption.