The Real Nigger in the Woodpile

The_Nigger_in_the_WoodpileAnne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has been disciplined for saying, in the context of a discussion about Brexit:

Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?

Well, the American expression “nigger in the woodpile” (meaning an important issue that is being overlooked) is somewhat antique, and probably best avoided in public speech. But it is really less offensive than many other epithets that are regularly thrown around, like imperialist pig, pakeha, bog-trotter, breeder, red-neck and countless others. Less so because no insult is intended by it.

Nevertheless, nigger has become a token taboo word: safe ground which upon the PC community can beat its intolerant drum. But symbolism apart, it is no more than a variant of the anthropologically correct word negro or the latin niger, meaning black. True perhaps that it was a word used contemptuously by some Americans in the century nigger_from_dambusters2before last, but that was very larely overtaken in the last century.  Why would Douglas Bader have called his dog Nigger if the word was so terrible 80 years ago? For him, it was obviously meant affectionately.

A much bigger problem than the occasional infelicitous use of language by MPs is political irresponsibility. Dismantling a nation’s defence forces, or plunging a nation into irretrievable debt, or taking a nation into a pointless war, are all far greater offences.

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Manners, Politics, Uncategorized

One response to “The Real Nigger in the Woodpile

  1. Liz Runciman

    It was Guy Gibson of Dambusters fame who had a dog called Nigger, not Douglas Bader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s