The Battle Lines Are Drawn

[ Posted Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 – 16:34 UTC ]

Today's column is written in snap response to the introductory speeches just given by Joe Biden and his newly-named running mate Kamala Harris. I just finished watching them, and I wanted to share my initial reactions.

However, as I am sometimes wont to do, I am going to begin with a somewhat-related but entirely tangential discussion on grammar, before I get to my thoughts on the speeches. Partly, this is to let my first impressions percolate for a bit, but mostly this is because there are a few editorial nits I have been feeling the need to pick recently. If this sort of thing doesn't interest you, I would advise just skipping forward a few paragraphs and ignoring my pedantry. [I will even aid this by providing subheadings to allow for a quick jump to be more easily made.]



The first two of these four diversions from the theme are minor editorial policies that I have recently adopted for my writing, but for which I have not yet offered any explanation. Both can quickly be dealt with.

This first one is a true nit, but one that can be quickly and easily picked. I was surprised when writing earlier this week that my word processor's spell-checker flagged "sympatico" as being incorrect. The internal dictionary apparently prefers "simpatico." Personally, I don't agree.

I did a web search of dictionaries, and there appears to be no real consensus. By the numbers, more listed "simpatico" as the preferred spelling, but most also listed "sympatico" as an acceptable alternate spelling. The reverse was true for those that preferred the Y-spelling.

The origin of the word is the Greek noun "sympatheia," meaning "sympathy." Right there are two big clues, since both of these words use a Y.

There seem to be more words that use "sym-" than "sim-" in the English language for this introductory sound as well: "symbol, symmetry, symphony, symptom" versus "similar, simple." But neither of these was what made me decide to ignore the spell-checker -- it was nothing more than a sense that simpatico just "doesn't look right to me." And since editorial decisions here are purely my own, that was good enough for me. I would actually be interested to find out which spelling Joe Biden prefers (since his love of the term is the whole reason we're even having this discussion), but for now I'm going with sympatico.


Black and White

The Washington Post recently changed their own editorial policy to capitalize both "Black" and "White" when speaking of the American demographics they represent. When used as mere colors ("the night was black as ink," or "the bride had a gorgeous white wedding gown"), they remain lower-case, as they should. But when speaking of groups of people, they are now capitalized.

It looked strange at first, as change often does, but I could immediately understand the logical and grammatical point the editors were making. Some people had previously capitalized Black, but it was usually seen as more of a construct of the 1960s and 1970s ("Black is beautiful," "Black power"). But they're right -- large groups of people identified ethnically are usually capitalized. Seeing White capitalized was even more jarring, but again if you're going to capitalize Black then it is only fitting that you also capitalize White.

So I have also adopted this editorial policy here as well, because it seems proper and reasonable to do so. I do this for the sake of consistency, which is the same reason I almost always capitalize "Earth" when few others do (what other planet isn't capitalized, after all?).


What to call her?

I have written about this more extensively before, I should begin with, so I'm just going to excerpt the key passages here. The news media are already having problems deciding what particular ethnic pigeonhole to place Kamala Harris in. I've already seen and heard her variously described as: Jamaican-American, African-American, Indian-American, Asian-American, and South-Asian-American.

The first two of those have already given rise to a version of "She's not Black enough!" from the rightwing media. "She has no family ties to American slavery," they state, as if that somehow mattered all that much. "Her father's from Jamaica, not Africa," is another version of this. But Barack Obama already navigated these same waters, so the whole "She's not Black enough" pseudo-complaint is likely going to go precisely nowhere. As it deserves to.

The other three terms were what I wrote about before, although at the start of the column I chanced upon the exact problem I just mentioned:

Discussing racial identity and racial politics is fraught with pitfalls and historical hangovers (most of which are rather demeaning, at best). Not to mention inaccuracies, which also abound. A dark-skinned Jamaican who moves to America might be surprised to be labeled "African-American," since his cultural and ethnic identity is (if you want to use a geographic term) more Caribbean than African.

But this wasn't my main point, so I didn't explore it further. My main point was the other ethnic labels that the media is currently perplexed about:

Historically, the term "Oriental" was used to describe people from what was then called the Far East. But the oriental/occidental division is now seen as not proper for polite conversation (this actually happened quite a while back, I should mention). We then moved to more geographic terminology -- closer to the way we think of Europeans, in fact. Americans identified (and differentiated between) Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Mongolians, Vietnamese, and Indians, for instance. Americans looking for a restaurant would routinely use such terms to describe these individual cuisines, to give perhaps the easiest example.

. . .

But now, for some strange reason, labels such as Chinese, Japanese, and Indian are falling out of favor, as culturally Americans are now using the generic "Asian" instead. To me, at least, this doesn't make a lot of sense. It seems we're going backwards here, not forwards.

If the ultimate measure of respect is to treat individual ethnicities and countries as individual groups worth recognition (Irish, Mexican, Egyptian), and if lumping everyone together into a generic term is less respectful (Central American, African), then why are we moving from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean into the genericized "Asian"? Japanese culture and identity has virtually nothing to do with Indian culture and identity, but both are now routinely labeled "Asian" as if they shared some commonality.

The term is rather exclusive, as well, because it only extends so far west. Once you leave the Indian subcontinent, people become no longer "Asian" but rather "Middle Eastern." Again, Americans tend to lump everyone from the Mediterranean to roughly Afghanistan or Pakistan into this group, and most Americans would be puzzled by anyone saying: "Let's go get some Asian cuisine -- I'm craving falafel." So in reality, "Asian" is not being used for "everyone from Asia," but instead roughly for "everyone south of Russia, east of the Middle East, and north of Australia."

I now see that the new term "South-Asian-American" has been added to the mix, perhaps to differentiate Indian-Americans from (for example) Japanese-Americans. But I end on a positive note, because Joe Biden introduced Kamala Harris today as an "Indian-American," so perhaps the media will follow his lead. Or perhaps she'll let it be known which term she herself prefers.


What to call him?

This was also addressed during Biden's introductory speech, as he pointed out that Kamala's husband, if Biden wins, will become known as the "Second Gentleman." Which I explored a bit five years ago, for Bill Clinton:

If Hillary Clinton wins office, he'll become "First Gentleman" Bill Clinton. Again, this is unprecedented on two levels: an ex-president being the spouse of a new president, and the first "First Gentleman" in history. The gender issue won't be a big deal, of course, although the press may have a bunch of fun coming up with an alternate title for Bill than "First Gentleman" (my guess is that "First Bubba" will become the favorite, but that's just a wild guess). Still, the novelty of a woman president will be a lot bigger than the novelty of a male "first" spouse, so what to call Bill isn't going to be all that huge a problem.

This isn't really contentious at all, but it will be a first; as while women have previously run for both president and vice president, to date none of them has actually won.


The speeches

OK, have we all had enough pedantry for one day (week, month, whatever...)? Then let's move on to those speeches, shall we?

Even after allowing time for percolation, my reaction remains the same: both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris knocked it out of the park. Period.

Was it the best speech either one of them has ever given? Well, no, probably not. But this is only because both have rather high bars to clear in this regard. I'd easily give both of these speeches at least a nine out of ten, personally.

As I see it, these two speeches both had four main objectives: (1) formally introduce Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's running mate, (2) personally introduce Kamala Harris to those voters who didn't know much of anything about her yet, (3) summarize the main themes of the Biden/Harris campaign, and (4) provide a teaser for next week's Democratic National Convention.

Both speeches achieved all four of these objectives in grand fashion. The first was hardly necessary, since that had already become yesterday's news. Biden's announcement of his running mate was the biggest political story yesterday and these introductory speeches will also dominate today's news cycle as well.

The second was run-of-the-mill candidate introduction, but this was also handled extremely well in both speeches. We'll get a much longer and more in-depth version of this during the convention, to be sure. Both touched on Kamala's individual history as well as her personal history with the Biden family (which likely determined the choice for Joe). Of course, the edges were smoothed down, but that's par for the course for a candidate's introduction. Harris was defined as a very human individual with an extraordinary history of accomplishment. She did take one veiled swipe at her detractors at the very start of her speech, with her use of the word "ambition" (or perhaps it was "ambitious," I'd have to check the transcript). But for the most part, the "here's who Kamala Harris is" parts of both speeches were excellent.

The third goal of these speeches was to define in absolute terms why Joe Biden is running for president. This is where both speeches truly knocked it out of the park. Neither Biden nor Harris minced words about the utter and abject failures of President Donald Trump, and both took the fight to him in both very substantial and very personal ways. The battle lines could not have been drawn more clearly -- and even that's putting it mildly. You just know that Trump watched the speeches while seething and throwing an epic presidential temper tantrum. Especially since this completely destroys the Trump campaign's "Biden is a doddering old fool" smear -- because Biden was anything but, and he proved this in spectacular fashion. And there's more to come -- this is just the preview of the entire rest of the campaign. The language used to define Trump to the American electorate simply could not have been improved upon, in my opinion. The stark choice between Biden and Trump has never been as clearly laid out in so few words.

The fourth goal was also achieved in rather exciting fashion. If Biden and Harris are this good right out of the starting gate, just imagine how good the convention speeches are going to be next week -- both from them and from all the other Democratic Party luminaries. These two speeches, in fact, set a rather high bar for all the rest of the convention speakers to strive for.

In conclusion, I would strongly urge everyone who missed these speeches today to take the time (around a half-hour) to watch both of them in full. It is well worth your time to do so. I will fully admit that Joe Biden was not my first choice to win the Democratic nomination, and Kamala Harris was likewise not at the top of my preferred list for veep. But I feel a whole lot better about the choice of both of them today, after watching their rollout speeches. They really were both that good, and there's just not that much more that I can say about them.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


64 Comments on “The Battle Lines Are Drawn”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I like sympatico. ;)

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Sigh. That was supposed to be a :) because, I really like sympatico!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of course, it should be the Black community and White guys can't dance. Ahem.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Kamala says Black American and that's more than good enough for me.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What about Black Indian American. I agree, it's whatever she says it is.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are there any Dunkin' Doughnuts franchisees in her family?

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm definitely not THAT strong! :)

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, I haven't heard the speeches yet but, I assume they're on c-span so I'll be sure to check them out later, much later ...

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    I am reminded of Tiger Woods coining "Cablinasian" to describe himself, personally...


  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That's right! I forgot about that. Maybe Kamala will coin another one! She could add an 'fe' somewhere and have some fun with it.

    Truth be known, I'm just totally and completely bowled over by everything. I have to pinch myself thinking about Biden as the nominee and what a great team Biden/Harris will be.

    Of course, I'll be devastated beyond imagination if they don't make it.

  10. [10] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    On the simpatico/sympatico question, I have always believed it was simpatico because of the '-o' ending. This makes it look like a Spanish or Italian word, and in those languages the sym- root from the Greek is spelled sim-.

    On the Asian question, as a geography teacher I try to get my kids to accept that Asia, like Africa (another problematic place for a generic word 'African' to be applied to everybody from there), is just too big and diverse for the word 'Asian' to mean anything.

    Now, I will grant that in the American experience 'Asian' for some time now has referred to East Asian-American populations: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, and the rest. And this is because, as far as I can tell, most immigrants to American from Asia east of the Arab/Muslim crescent (aka the Middle East, a term that makes no sense and never has; see below for more ranting) have in fact come from the Pacific littoral: East Asia. And despite the strong national differences you note, East Asia was historically dominated by the Confucian civilization of ancient China, and populated by variants on what used to be called Mongolian facial features, so East Asian is arguably a meaningful generalization.

    East Asian, not Asian. Because as you say, we now have a growing population from South Asia, the ancient Indian civilization of equal age and historical coherence: now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. They may loathe each other at times, but to refer to them in world terms, or American ethnic terms, as 'South Asian' is again a useful generalization.

    And yes, I do like to point out to people that West Asia is a place that goes all the way back, and can be used to talk about all the varied peoples from Turks to Afghans to Arabs and Israelis. It's actually a better term than Middle East (which used to be Iraq and Iran, since the Near East was the Ottoman Empire from the Balkans to the Arabian Peninsula and the Far East was, of course China and Japan), and gee, folks, isn't calling all of Asia any form of 'East' simply a scream that it is unalterably different and opposed to the 'West', i.e. Europe and its worldwide offshoots?

    Central Asia? It's there, all right, although not a large part of the American melting pot. And North Asia, like North America, has relatively few nations (Da!) and so is a less-needed, but not completely useless term.

    Being a teacher, I'm used to my pedantry being ignored, so it's nice to vent when asked politely, like just now.

    OK, moving on. I couldn't care less what title or dignity possibly VP Harris' husband is assigned.

    And finally, thanks for the recommendation to watch the Biden & Harris speeches from today's event. You certainly make them sound impressive, but as you may have realized, you undercut your praise by letting me know that the convention speeches will probably be even better. So I'll wait for those. It's not like I'm not going to vote for Uncle Joe and the Lady Cop anyway.

  11. [11] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Perhaps it's just me. Why place emphasis on assigning a hyphenated ethnic title?

    Why can we not emphasize that she is a successful American woman and leave it at that?

    The whole need to assign someone a hyphenated ethnicity really just enables people to utilize different levels of judgement fostered by a persons racial biases.

    IMO we should refer to anyone first as an American and secondly of x and y decent. There are times where the use of ones ethnicity is necessary to provide additional context to the discussion but if find the need to box someone into a hyphen tedious at best.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Another good point, GT!

    But, I'm not a hyphenated Canadian - except maybe European-Canadian but, that's pretty ridiculous.

    Until you walk in the shoes of another ... I'll leave it up to them.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Or, as I aways say, there are only two kinds of Canadians - Aboriginal Canadians and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

    Hopefully, someday, we will live as equal partners in this country called Canada.

  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i believe simpatico was borrowed directly from spanish via the western genre of tv/movie, which is why the spellcheck dictionaries like it better that way. i'm guessing either the writers or the characters they wrote didn't really know what it meant, because the english adaptation is somewhat different in meaning from the spanish.

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I still like sympatico.

    Perhaps it's the silent rebel in me. Ahem.

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I mean, we don't write simpathy or simpathetic, do we?

  17. [17] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    we also don't write tocko or faheeta.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    True, dat. But, what's yer point?

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    my point is that when we borrow a word from another language, we generally leave that language's spelling intact.

    'ness paw?

  20. [20] 
    andygaus wrote:

    "Simpatico" is a Spanish word. "Sympatico" is a mauled version of a Spanish word, like "No problemo" [it's problema]. "Sympatico" looks as wrong to me as it looks right to you, because I'm used to seeing it spelled as the Spanish word that it is, and "simpatico" is the more common and therefore less distracting spelling. Appealing to the original Greek spelling over the spelling that has come down through an intervening language (in the following cases, Latin) would give us oikonomi and mousik, not to mention Iesous Khrist. You should skip pedantry. You just don't have the chops for it.

  21. [21] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    I'm with you, Chris,

    Neither Biden nor Harris were at the top of my lists, but I am, as I knew I would be, happily on board.

    Time to go eat that tuna sandwich.

  22. [22] 
    Kick wrote:

    I think Biden and Harris are sympatico, a great combination of Black and White simpatico. Call her Vice President... Ms. Harris if you're "nasty," and call him Doug... and put your hands up for the Doug Hive.

    Speeches? We don't need no stinkin' speeches! ;)

    82 DAYS * 1 HOUR * 33 MINUTES

  23. [23] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I'm watching both speeches and I've paused it at the moment Joe finished saying, "And on January 20th 2021 we're going to watch [her] raise her right hand and take the Oath of Office as Vice President."

    I would have added, "And because our current President has so abjectly failed to uphold that Oath, I'll remind him that it reads [insert the thingy that talks about "upholding the Constitution of the United States".]

  24. [24] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Being "Asian" and being "Hispanic" are both conditions that tend to exist only in the United States. Both terms have advantages both to the White establishment and to the affected parties. For the White establishment, for instance, talking of "Hispanic" or "Latino" voters allows them to overlook differences among Guatemalans, Cubans, and Venezuelans, etc., but it also allows those different nationalities to make common cause as a larger group against a White establishment that might prefer to ignore them. So with "Asian." It glosses over the differences among Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans, etc., but also helps create a voting bloc too large to ignore.

  25. [25] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Knock it off with that "white" thing. We light-complexioned folks are henceforth to be referred to only as "Persons of Pigmentation Deprivation".

  26. [26] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    K, just watched the rest of Joe's speech. I agree that he did quite well, especially when he lowered his voice and spoke as if he were talking to us as family.

    It must have been tough without the energy of an audience to feed off of but Joe made it work for me. And he was nothing if not a competent man talking in complete sentences and making a strong case.

  27. [27] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I have to say it Chris and Weigantia...

    I think the whole subject of whether to capitalize or not or should one be more or less specific in grouping nationalities is, frankly, silly. Who cares? It's shading too close to excessive political correctness for my taste. I think that one thing that might actually unite majorities of both Parties is hating PC, especially excessive PC, to one degree or another.

    There's far more important things going on to devote any attention to this subject.

    Rant over.

  28. [28] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Knock it off with that "white" thing. We light-complexioned folks are henceforth to be referred to only as "Persons of Pigmentation Deprivation".

    It's not all that catchy but I'm with you, Stuck. And don't forget the, "The Jews will not replace us," thang.

  29. [29] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    She should go on Trump TV and tell them that she identifies as White. Let's see where that goes.

  30. [30] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    How about Suburban-Lifestyle-Dream-Wrecker?

  31. [31] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    "Persons of Pigmentation Deprivation," huh?


    "PPD?" I dunno, I think of Portland Police Department when I hear "PPD," and we can't have that.

  32. [32] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Naw, I prefer, "white boy from the suburbs," no capitalization required.

    I guess I'm more into substantive actions to address our racism than I am symbolic grammatical gestures.

  33. [33] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    I mean, can we lighten up a little, people?

  34. [34] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    UTC ]

    John From Censornati wrote:

    How about Suburban-Lifestyle-Dream-Wrecker?

    If Trump goes, "Socialist Liberal Urban Terrorist" the acronym would spell...oh, never mind.

  35. [35] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Maaan, I'm of a mood tonight! First weed in a week and a half.

    Onward to Kamala's speech!

  36. [36] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Some people identify as Real-American.

    This reality really goes a long way toward explaining why XYZ-Americans want to add -American to the labels already assigned to them.

  37. [37] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Kamala did fine as well. I'd have to say that I'm just about as gushy about the two as you, Sir Weigant.

    She covered the bases and checked the boxes that she needed and again, I'll remind the studio audience that Kamala's voting record is the second most Progressive of all our Senators. You know, substantive actions to address our [fill in the Progressive cause.]

  38. [38] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Goode trickle [11]

    IMO we should refer to anyone first as an American and secondly of x and y decent.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I have wondered why no one identified themselves this way for years! I like to think that I am an “American heterosexually-challenged Caucasian”.

  39. [39] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [21] MyVoice wrote:

    I'm with you, Chris,

    Neither Biden nor Harris were at the top of my lists, but I am, as I knew I would be, happily on board.

    Time to go eat that tuna sandwich.

    I know, I'm eating my tuna fish sandwich, too.

    As I've maintained for some time now, "Joe could pick a tuna fish sandwich for Veep and still win."

    So I made a niiice tuna fish sandwich, wrapped it in an American flag bandana and put it in the freezer.

    You know, in case Joe wanted to actually nominate said tuna fish sandwich to make that same point, I wanted my sandwich to have the honor.

  40. [40] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Of course I'm disappointed. Because I made an especially Progressive tuna fish sandwich.*sigh*

  41. [41] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    John M [10] and andygaus [24]:

    In the UK, 'Asian' generally refers to people from the Indian sub-continent, mainly India, Pakistan and Bangladesh rather than the Pacific Far East. 'Hispanic' and 'Latin/o/a/x' are not generally used, however. Prejudice and lack of understanding of different ethnic groups are no better. A friend of my son was racially abused for wearing a face covering and being apparently of Chinese descent.

    I agree with you, John about traditional geographic labelling, especially since it has tended to ignore the groupings and movements of actual people.

  42. [42] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    When you spend too much time in the bunker looking at nasty Not-Black-Enough women calling you a predator on a Trump TV screen, your big beautiful brain starts to wither away. You feel like nobody likes you and you start to take elephant tranquilizers to feel better about yourself while you unpersuasively deny the tens of thousands of fatillities that you caused. You deliver your word salads in the bored monotonous drone of the walking dead losers who know their time is short.

  43. [43] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Goodbye "Sleepy Joe" meme.

    Hello "Tipsy Donald" - the man is losing his ability use words. Paragraphs have been gone for quite a while. I'm beginning to think there will be no TV"debates." Trump's handlers realize debates are "a ramp too far."

  44. [44] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The speech that Kamala Harris should have made:

    The Deathocratic Party was looking for a girl that would be a clear middle finger from the Deathocratic establishment to drive home the point that the Deathocrats are running a you have no other choice more of the same campaign- And that girl is ME!

  45. [45] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    So let's just call her a Middle Finger-American. :D

  46. [46] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Actually, Middle Finger-American better describes Donald's Death Cult and obsessive-compulsive campaign finance purists who (not that) cannot perceive the difference between the mentally-deranged orangutan in the White House and normal politicians.

  47. [47] 
    John M wrote:

    English and in particular American English has always had a unique way of adapting foreign words into the language from other languages and making them its own. This invariably leads to spelling changes from the original. It's what at least partly gives English its dynamism and dominance as a world language, its sheer adaptability. It also tends to drive others nuts! The British were aghast when the American spelling of "through" changed to "thru" and then started to creep into British English as well. Americans dropped the "u" from British words, as another example, "colour" becoming "color" in American English. We also don't have anyone trying to formally keep the language "pure" of foreign influences the way the French try. Again for instance "terrain de stationnement" rather than the more pearl clutching inducement of "le parking!"

  48. [48] 
    John M wrote:

    The other whole point is that:

    1) People should be able to define themselves for themselves. Not have someone else do it for them.

    It was white men who gave people they found in the Arctic the name "Eskimo" which in English means "fish eater" and is somewhat derogatory. The name they actually use to refer to themselves is "Inuit" which actually translates as "the people."

    Similarly "Roma" or "Romani" is preferred over the term outsiders gave them, again somewhat derogatory, of "Gypsy."

    And don't even get me started on the old TV Western practice of white men calling Native American women "squaw." 1950's American mothers I am sure would have been horrified to learn that "squaw" didn't actually mean "woman" but actually would translate as an explicit term for female genitalia. I can just see his mom yelling now,"Dennis the Menace, Margaret is not a squaw, now go wash your mouth out with soap." if she only knew!

    2) People who say they don't see color at all, while they are trying to be kind, are really making a mistake in the opposite direction. Because that also has a way of totally invalidating and dismissing not only a major part of who you are, but also your actual real world life experiences as well. Making you invisible can be just as bad.

    Tolerance is great, but not if it implies that you are "only" being tolerated. After all, we can "tolerate" things that we loathe and despise. We need to strive for more than just "tolerance." The very fact that you are black, or female, or gay, should be just as positively valued and acknowledged as the fact that you are a human being too.

  49. [49] 
    John M wrote:

    Sorry, that should be "White men," "Black," "Gay," and "Female?" now. :-D

  50. [50] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    John M

    That "squaw" thing (supposedly as a substitute for cunt)is a total bullshit story, invented by contemporary western tribes desperate for something to be offended by.

    The word must have originated among the first European immigrants, who took it from the natives they came in contact with on the east coast.

    I recall from reading the journals of the Corps of Discovery, where Captain Clark rendered it as "squar" if I remember correctly.

    The "female genitalia" thing is utterly something manufactured relatively recently, by western Indians, whose ancestors at the time it entered our language, never even knew of the existence of their fellow natives of the east coast.

  51. [51] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    It's symple, it's simpatical.

    I like the Biden-Harris approach, the sum of the two parts outweighs the individual contibutions.

    Trump is well and truly bent-over, of that, no doubt remains.

    I would'nt give "Tuppence" for Trump and Pence, in the same way Biden and Harris were like "Songbirds"...?


  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are you okay?

  53. [53] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Are you referring to me?

    I ask, because caring would unbalance our present relationship, and that wont do...

    I regret to inform you, but I added you to my "meh" list some time back, and that list is never revised.

    I appreciate your new-found concern, but as new-found, it's redundant and missplaced.


  54. [54] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki

    Knock it off with that "white" thing. We light-complexioned folks are henceforth to be referred to only as "Persons of Pigmentation Deprivation".

    "White thing"!? You're funny. I will be more than happy to speak for hours on end about your "deprivation," but alas, the topic of the pigmentation of your skin wouldn't come up.

    Heh. Just giving you a hard time, "White thing," you were crying out for it... so I threw you a bone. ;)

    I hope you are taking care of yourself, mountain man, got your registration changed to Libertarian and all that, right? :)

  55. [55] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    [51] I like crosswords.

    Find larger words from Biden-Harris and Trump-Pence.


  56. [56] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I didn't know we had a relationship?? Do I know you?

  57. [57] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    My memory is poor and it's always a little fuzzy when I come here ...

  58. [58] 
    Kick wrote:


    I have to say it Chris and Weigantia...

    Say what?

    I think the whole subject of whether to capitalize or not or should one be more or less specific in grouping nationalities is, frankly, silly. Who cares? It's shading too close to excessive political correctness for my taste.

    Do I even have to say I'm not overly politically correct either or do my posts make it painfully or otherwise obvious? Having said that, I certainly do understand why an author would make the endeavor.

    I think that one thing that might actually unite majorities of both Parties is hating PC, especially excessive PC, to one degree or another.

    I hear you; I do, and I know you having served in the military informs your opinion; it simply can't not inform your thinking because it beats that "hang-up" right out of you, and it's set up that way by design... by necessity, and that's a good thing.

    There's far more important things going on to devote any attention to this subject.

    Just keep in mind that not everyone has lived your experience. I used to get them fresh out of high school and with a chip on their shoulder the size of Texas until I knocked it off and fed it to them for breakfast. People don't know what they don't know until they know it... I know you know.

    Rant over.

    Never underestimate the power of a good rant. :)

    When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better. ~ Mae West

  59. [59] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Kick wrote,

    Do I even have to say I'm not overly politically correct either or do my posts make it painfully or otherwise obvious?

    I wouldn't call it "painfully" -- I'd go with "otherwise" and "semi-obvious," Sister.

    Just keep in mind that not everyone has lived your experience.

    Ya think? I write for myself from my perspective. I don't know what joining the Army at 24 years old has to do with my hating PC. I started hating PC long before that.

    A good rant cleanses the system (sistem?) of toxins. Sure, I'd like my rants to change the world. But do would billions of other sentient beings on Earth.

  60. [60] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Well reasoned and well spoke, John M.


    When I'm good I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better. ~ Mae West

    Cain't touch that, Kick. It's just too perfect as is.

  61. [61] 
    Kick wrote:

    John From Censornati

    She should go on Trump TV and tell them that she identifies as White. Let's see where that goes.

    Oh, I like this idea, JFC. That could make for some delicious commentary... like that whole "Santa" thing:

    And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is White... Santa is what he is, and just so you know, we're just debating this because someone wrote about it, kids.


    Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change, you know. I mean, Jesus was a White man too, but you know, it's like; he was a historical figure. I mean, that's a verifiable fact... but my point is, how do you just revise it, you know, in the middle of the story and change Santa from white to black?

    ~ Megyn Kelly, December 2013


    Oh, I don't know Megyn, but if you can change a first century Jewish historical figure into a "white man" like you just did, then Santa going "black" ought to be a piece of chocolate cake and easy as a Mississippi mud pie.

    Kamala identifies as White, she just is what she is; just ask her husband, Doug. :)

  62. [62] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    New column up. Hey, if she can be sincere, so can I...



  63. [63] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    John M from Ct. [10] -

    Aha! A fellow pedant!

    Interesting points, all. My biggest bugaboo in geographical terms is continually pointing out that Europe isn't a continent. It just isn't. There are six continents, and Eurasia is the biggest. Hmmph!

    goode trickle [11] -

    I agree with you generally, but in this specific case she's a multiple "first," so the media's going to point it out endlessly. I really have no idea when the whole "Asian" thing got started, but it's completely mystifying to me, personally, and seems like a step backwards.

    As for your "hyphenated-American" point, I believe Teddy Roosevelt ranted against it over 100 years ago -- I'd have to dig it out, but I think he gave a speech on it. And he made essentially the same points you did.

    nypoet22 [17] -

    we also don't write tocko or faheeta.

    Give it time... give it time...

    I had to laugh out loud when on a cross-country drive I saw a giant factory for Sue Bee Honey right smack in the middle of Sioux territory. Which was only spelled that in the first place because of the French fur trappers. But eventually Americans respell anything they please.

    Like the Soo Locks, in Sault Sainte Marie.

    Or (another one that caused an enormous lightbulb moment and laughter from me) seeing the name Aux Arc on an Arkansas road sign. Aha! So that's where it came from!

    And again, from the French, I've come across old references to the "Esquimeaux" before.

    Like I said, give it time. Americans will respell anything they please...


    andygaus [20] -

    Call it "personal pedantry." It's a personal choice, and I've made mine. Heck, if we were consistent we wouldn't muddle Latin and Greek roots, either, and we'd all be driving around in either (take your choice) "autokinetons" or "egomobiles." Actually, now that I think about it, plenty of Californians do actually drive egomobiles... heh.

    Chalk it up to me learning French instead of Spanish at an early age, I suppose.

    [24] -

    OK, that is an interesting point. You're right, when it comes down to voting blocs -- the generic terms do give them more power, in the end.

    MtnCaddy [27] -

    You certainly do have a point, but as an editor, I do actually have to make these choices. In the dog days of summer, sometimes I write about them...

    [37] -

    Yeah, I thought that both of them did have to struggle without an audience, and Biden did a little better at the TelePrompTer game than Harris, but hey, she'll get better quick (that's my prediction). I need to find a transcript of both speeches so I can just read what they said without being distracted (and so I can excerpt them tomorrow).

    John M [49] -

    Feel free to set your own editorial policies for your own comments, as always!


    Just don't let the power go to your head and start using the editorial "we"... heh... which I limit myself to doing only on Fridays...


  64. [64] 
    Kick wrote:


    Ya think? I write for myself from my perspective.

    I do think, and it's refreshing to discuss things unfettered by bleating sheeple and wall-to-wall moronic conspiracy theory invented fictional BS and hear from other reality-based thinkers.

    I don't know what joining the Army at 24 years old has to do with my hating PC. I started hating PC long before that.

    Good for you; if you hadn't, the armed forces would have been a good place for a general "attitude adjustment," but there too, experiences will vary greatly.

    A good rant cleanses the system (sistem?) of toxins. Sure, I'd like my rants to change the world. But do would billions of other sentient beings on Earth.

    Amen, brother. :)

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