Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has posted a video of a 1992 presidential election War Room meeting between long-time Clinton associates, George Stephanopulous, James Carville and Mickey Kantor during which the latter allegedly uses the phrase “white nigger"* in reference to working-class whites in Indiana. The video is producing the intended fallout for Hillary Clinton on both sides of the political divide. But Kantor and others say that the video has been altered. Here's the part that's clear:
Wait, wait, look at Indiana — 42-40. It doesn’t matter if we win. Those people are sh*t. Oh, excuse me …
Now here’s the disputed part. In the video at Hot Air, it sounds as though Kantor says
How would you like to be a worthless white n****r?But the in the video at You Tube (start at 4:40) he says "how would you like to be :::mumble, mumble:::"--IOW I can’t decipher what Kantor says to Stephanopulous after that.
Kantor says that he wasn’t even talking about Indiana and, from the evidence, I’m inclined to believe him.
Kantor, on Friday, insisted that the latter part of his statement never took place and that it made no sense for him to use such language.Kantor also says that he would never say the n-word.
"Indiana was not even on our radar screen," he said, "And I was talking about the polling and not the people... If you look at The War Room, this is not the way Carville or George interpreted my statement. This is frankly libelous."
Kantor said he was in the process of contacting "the best" libel lawyers to approach YouTube.com about the process of removing the video from its site. He suggested that The Huffington Post, too, should not print even his defense, as it would be an advancement of a non-story.
"I don't need to be defended," he wrote. "When you write it, what you are doing is extended the libel."
My parents would come from the grave and kill me if I used that word.Is someone trying to deflect ire from the debacle of Barack Obama's Clinging-to-guns, etc. statement--Ed has another name for that gaffe which will get me in trouble--and from the fallout produced by Jeremiah Wright’s close-ups? Doctoring a video by putting words in the mouth of a loyal Clinton associate who is Jewish to boot would be a good way to do it.
But there’s something about this little tempest that’s stuck in my craw.
I’m not going to get into a row about black and non-black usage of “n****r." But in this specific instance, it is clear that the word is meant to be an insult to Indiana’s white population. Whether Kantor actually used the term or whether someone inserted those words in his mouth, the term's implications and the reaction to it require some fleshing out.
Every time I hear the term “white n****r” used, I always marvel at the lack of insight demonstrated by the user—and sometimes by the targets of the epithet. The user always tries to pretend that it isn’t a racial slur against blacks, because he/she is talking about white people, you see. He always forgets—if he ever knew—that even when the word used with a modifier, it is always about blacks.
Hey, my white brothers and sisters! Don’t you want to be a n****r or even called one? Why not? Because for some of you, as “low” as you may perceive yourselves to be, there’s always a group that’s “lower” than you: we actual n****rs, Version 1.0. The phrase, the insult, is intended to put working-class whites and blacks on the same "social level." And some of the former, the ones who still subconsciously buy into the notion that whites are on a higher social level than blacks and, therefore, who say in their heart-of-hearts “at least I’m not a n****r” will object to this phrase most strenuously.
Conversely, here’s a perceptive and humorous response to being called a “white n****r”:
A worthless white n****r? Hey mister…that’s worthless white African American, and don’t you forget it.Hah! Exactly.
*I’m spelling out the word only in this instance. Reason it’s not usually done here: search engines.
UPDATE: (Via Ed again) Bravo Sierra says War Room director D.A. Pennebaker.
"He does not say that," said Pennebaker, after viewing the clip.Sounds far more logical than the opposite.
He said the initial expletive referred to the anticipated reaction in the Bush White House to the fact that Ross Perot's polling numbers were holding strong.
"What he says is he’s surprised Perot’s numbers are holding," said Pennebaker in a brief phone interview. "He says they must be shi**ing in the White House."
The second expletive, he said, appeared to have been entirely fabricated, with new audio dubbed onto the original movie.
Pennebaker appeared surprised and amused by the video.
"A thousand people saw that film in theaters and didn't think" the second expletive had been used, he said. "It's very clearly understandable. It's not like it was in Bulgarian."
I still find it fascinating to contemplate the psyche that would conjure the notion of "white n****rs" and then put the words into someone's mouth.
Oh and Hot Air readers are always welcome here. Well, most of you. :-)