Don’t Trust Whitey

The right-wing media seem to be intent on selling us the idea that the people in power are the ones who are actually persecuted the most. I’m not sure why anyone would WANT to be included in persecution, but apparently rich straight white Christian men feel left out.

There’s a kind of paranoia that tends to brew in the rich and powerful, which basically amounts to their being afraid that someone else will take away their money and power. And why not, since it’s probably what they did to plenty of other people on their way to the top? On a larger scale, it explains part of the fear white men have for minorities, presumably expecting that if they take power, they’ll do unto the former majority as was done unto them. I’ve probably mentioned before how telling I found it when Bill O’Reilly came across as genuinely upset that Latin people were becoming the majority in the United States. Why in the hell would anyone care?

Fox News was also trying to claim that the Charleston shooter, who pretty much came right out and said he was racist and wanted to kill black people, was actually prejudiced against Christians. That the country just flat-out hates Jesus is a tale they tell over and over again, despite the fact that it’s still the majority religion and has significant political power.

The persecution complex is a proud Christian tradition, presumably deriving at least partially from Jesus’ command that people take up the cross and follow him. Back then, the followers of Jesus were a genuinely persecuted minority. Now, it’s rare that Christians really have to put their faith to the test, which is why some of them pretend that any minor setback to their traditional way of life is akin to being boiled in oil by the Roman Emperor.

There are some parts of the world where Christians still are persecuted, but here some incredibly vocal holier-than-thou believers think it’s worth bitching about gay marriage, the theory of evolution, or people just taking flippant attitudes about God.

After all, if Christians remain a powerful majority, how is the Antichrist going to rise? Well, some of them take to insisting that other Christians aren’t REAL Christians, which used to play out between Catholics and Protestants. Now, however, the conservative Catholics and Protestants, and even some Mormons, are teaming up against secularism, so it’s more fundamentalists against progressives. And I get the impression that the progressives aren’t too keen on the Republican Party appropriating Jesus.

Finally, we come to the issue of ethnic slurs, and how the Fox crew wants their viewers to think it’s just as bad to call someone a honky, a cracker, or a gringo as it is to use the N-word. Obviously it isn’t simply on the basis that whites still hold most of the power, but even beyond that I have to wonder if anyone is REALLY offended by such terms. Sure, they’re meant to be insulting, but they hardly have the weight of centuries of systemic prejudice behind them.

I asked this question on Facebook, and was told that “honky” was derived from “bohunk,” a slur against Bohemians and Hungarians. My great-grandfather was from Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), so I guess I have more right to be offended by it than a lot of white people do. That’s really a somewhat archaic meaning, though, and it’s now just an insult used by the less powerful against the more powerful. Besides, it’s not like honky tonk music has Eastern European influence, although it might be cool if it did. Or is that just what Camper Van Beethoven did on their early albums?

The most common etymology I’ve heard for “cracker” is that it meant the people who cracked the whips, although that’s by no means certain. As for “gringo,” I came across a good post on its origins, and it basically just means a foreigner, originally someone who didn’t speak Castillian Spanish.

The author mentions that it might have been related to “Greek,” when of course the Greeks were the ones who coined the term “barbarian” for people who didn’t speak THEIR language. It has a generally negative connotation, but I think Robert E. Howard made it a bit cooler in modern usage.

John Waters used “milkhead” as a derogatory term used by a black woman against a white man in Desperate Living, but I don’t think it ever really caught on. Anyway, I’d better start planning to leave the country, since the Supreme Court outlawed heterosexual marriage.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Etymology, Fox News, Fundamentalism, Language, Politics, Prejudice, Religion, Television and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Don’t Trust Whitey

  1. raji dorotez says:

    You left out “honky”. From what I’ve heard it originally referred to all the whites that drove through black neighborhoods with their doors locked & windows up, and whenever someone got in their way, they didn’t slow down, they just honked. Once I was riding with a black woman who did the same thing when she was driving through the ghetto. All she did was not slow down, but simply honked. I said, “What are you now, a honky?” She was at first insulted and said, “A cracker’s saying that to me?” Then I told her of the origin of the word. Now she’s more respectful when she drives.

    • Nathan says:

      I’ve seen both that and the Hungarian explanation for “honky.” There probably should be SOME name for people who honk their horns without slowing down, but it might have to be something different at this point.

  2. Pingback: It’s Slavery, But Not, Like, SLAVERY Slavery, You Know? | VoVatia

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