Culture

Is “Black Hole” the New “Niggardly”?

July 10, 2008

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In perhaps a new low in the ignorance, self righteousness, and over-sensitivity of African American politicians, two black officials in Dallas objected to the use of the term “black hole.”  During a meeting about traffic tickets, white county commissioner Kenneth Mayfield said that an office “has become a black hole” in reference to the way paperwork would often disappear.

John Wiley Price, a black commissioner, loudly objected that it should be called a “white hole,” and then a black judge Thomas Jones demanded an apology for Mayfield’s insensitivity.

This was all on camera, (hopefully video will come out soon) and eventually the offended politicians were placated after an elementary science lesson.

Rod Dreher has compared this to the much more publicized case of David Howard, an aide to then DC mayor Anthony Williams. During budget proceedings in 1999, Howard said they needed to be “niggardly” in the use of city funds, and a black colleague Marshall Brown took offense and filed a complaint.  Howard was so guilt-ridden that he resigned.

In part because Howard had impeccable PC credentials as a homosexual ally of a black mayor, there was a backlash against the incident. Williams, who had earlier accepted Howard’s resignation, reversed himself and refused to accept it, and even liberals showed some indignation over the extreme political correctness.

While there is some overlap between the “black hole” and “niggardly” incidents, there are serious differences. Chances are, this will not become as big of a controversy. Unlike Howard, Mayfield does not appear to be a spineless leftist. He stood up for himself, and I don’t imagine that he will resign. His antagonists may not be too intelligent, but they are probably wise enough to not make any more complaints, so the brouhaha has probably ended at the meeting.

However, I find the reactions of Jones and Price even less understandable than Brown’s. When the Howard incident occurred, I was a sophomore in high school. I will be the first to admit that at the time I didn’t know what the word “niggardly” meant. I would like to think that public servants in the District of Columbia with college degrees would have had a better vocabulary than a high school sophomore, but I’m not all that shocked that they did not. It seems that many Americans had not heard of the word, as most of the news accounts had to explain the etymology.

In contrast, I knew what a black hole was when I was in second grade. If only from watching “Homeboys in Outerspace”. I’d expect Price and Jones to know better.

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