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Uppity, other racial slurs

Like the man on an iceberg says of the secret of the rising water as the ice melts (“The Great Race” with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon), “When it reaches my bottom lip, then I’ll tell somebody!” I felt it was time to speak out. “Uppity” was defined in 1952 in the Oxford English Dictionary and in 1958 in Merriam Webster – both definitions attached to the “n” word. It has been, for most of 60 years, a deeply-rooted racial slur. And long before that it appears in reference to blacks getting above their place in society in newspapers and pamphlets published in what was the segregated South (including Texas).Back in 2008 Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) started the rebirth of the use of the word in conjunction with the Obamas when he said, “Honestly, I’ve never paid that much attention to Michelle Obama. Just what little I’ve seen of her and Sen. Obama, is that they’re a member of an elitist class ... that thinks that they’re uppity.” He later claimed he was using a different dictionary meaning of the term, not the racial slur. Yeah, sure, he is from the South and never knew what “uppity” meant. He also was one of the 33 who tried to repeal the voting act for blacks. A 61-year-old who lived through the racial tensions of the 1960s and 1970s who never knew what uppity meant. And he was re-elected, again and again. Says a lot about his constituents in the South.Of course, one cannot elect Rush Limbaugh, he is untouchable, with millions of fans and the highest man-hour media base in the country (higher than NBC and ABC combined – he is the media majority). He used the terms “uppity” about Michelle Obama and then made it worse, much worse. He attached “ism” to “uppity” and not only made the racial slur of Michelle Obama as “uppity,” but he really meant (and Rush uses words carefully, he means every one) that she was devoted or adhered to her “uppity” nature. In other words, in Rush’s world (and that of his fans), our First Lady, is a n****er who is devoted to getting above her place in America. In other words, she has forgotten her place in Rush’s world, a world of racism and bigotry.Now, I never heard anyone publically boo or malign Laura Bush, no matter how unpopular her husband was, I never heard Mamie Eisenhower booed. I never heard Lady Bird Johnson booed, nor Pat Nixon. Decent persons generally understand that the First Lady has a role to play, particularly charitable work (as Michelle was engaged in — in support of our troops). Decent persons generally show good manners towards the First Lady. A person may have good manners, but people, especially in a crowd, are dumb and easily misled by the likes of Rush. And Rush knows that, and as I said, he uses words carefully. He applauded the boos of the First Lady, he encouraged listeners, saying she had it coming. So his intent can never be seen as a mistake or misspeak. It was deliberate and demonstrative of the deep-seated roots of his racism and hatred.That is how you divide the country, that is how you lose the government of the people, by the people. In the Weimar Republic, the political right and left widened the divide, assuming one side would crumble. Neither gave way, propagandists like Rush Limbaugh fueled the fire and from the ashes rose a much more worrying and deadly future. We must not allow that to happen here. A former Amenia Union resident, Peter Riva now resides in New Mexico.

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