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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:30 am 
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If anyone ever wondered what types of things might make it easier for the GOP to lose the election this fall, this is an example of one of those things.

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5g8eMUng8c9fRJPvGHYOeolqH-uzwD930N50G0

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are calling on a Republican congressman from Georgia to apologize for referring to Barack and Michelle Obama as "uppity," but the lawmaker stood by his comments and said he meant no offense.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Grantville, Ga., described the Obamas as members of an "elitist-class ... that thinks that they're uppity," according to The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper.

Asked to clarify whether he intended to use the word, he said, "Yeah, uppity."

In a statement Friday, Westmoreland — a white man who was born in 1950 and raised in the segregated South — said he didn't know that "uppity" was commonly used as a derogatory term for blacks seeking equal treatment. Instead, he referred to the dictionary definition of the word as describing someone who is haughty, snobbish or has inflated self-esteem.

"He stands by that characterization and thinks it accurately describes the Democratic nominee," said Brian Robinson, Westmoreland's spokesman. "He was unaware that the word had racial overtones and he had absolutely no intention of using a word that can be considered offensive."

The Obama campaign had no immediate response. But the head of the Georgia Democratic Party called on Westmoreland to apologize, saying his comments were "more of the same, tired old politics that are dividing this country."

"The fact is, political attacks like this don't lower gas prices one cent, they don't give one more American access to affordable health care, and they don't get one more Georgian a job that pays the mortgage," Jane Kidd said. "Lynn Westmoreland should be ashamed of himself."

Westmoreland is one of the most conservative members of Congress. He has drawn criticism from civil rights advocates on a number of issues, including last year when he led opposition to renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He also was one of two House members last year who opposed giving the Justice Department more money to crack unsolved civil rights killings.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:27 am 
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Heh.. my mom lives in his district. I'll have to ask her what she thinks.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:09 pm 
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I was just as ignorant - didn't know "uppity" was racist term. Kinda makes you feel for people in the public eye.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:23 pm 
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I didn't know it was a racial term either. I've probably even used it a time or two to describe someone as snobbish and thinking they were better than someone else. I will have to remember to remove it from my vocabulary.

I too, think it would be horrible to have the media watching your every word. It would especially be hard for someone like Mike who often throws in humor. That is even more likely to be misinterpreted, as in the case of the Obama NRA joke.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:25 pm 
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Uppity? Racial slur? I confess...I always thought uppity meant snobbish, thinking someone is better/above someone else. Seems like the gentleman from Georgia would do better by simply using a synonym for what he meant since it has now been called to his attention that this word apparently has 2 meanings (one previously unknown to many of us)...Perhaps the gentleman from Georgia could say the Obamas seem snobbish, haughty, arrogant, self-important, bigoted, prejudiced...plenty of other words he could have used, none of them racial slurs...hope he's listening.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:32 pm 
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He was born in 1950 (therefore approx. 58 years old), raised in the segregated south, and never heard the phrase 'uppity black'?

Give me a break.

Sorry, folks. This isn't washing with me.

Furthermore, if you're a congressman, you need to learn these things. Find out on day one of your campaign what phrases are considered racial slurs. Find out what hurts people - that's what it comes down to.

It's like Trent Lott. I appreciate the man - but ignorance of how something would be construed is not really an excuse, when you're a leader. Leaders are held to a different standard.

I'm not saying you can't ever make a verbal gaffe - a leader will, and will frequently. It's what he or she says AFTER the gaffe. And once this was explained to him (though I still maintain it's a huge stretch that he had never heard that before - I'm 51 and raised in northern New Jersey, hardly the segregated south, and I knew that term was not good in that context), he should have IMMEDIATELY rephrased it and said it was an 'unfortunate' word.

It's not PC, it's kindness. It's smart.

Sorry to sound so contrary on this one :) but this is not Vertical Politics. Mike Huckabee would not have used that word, and if he did in just some lengthy or unguarded moment, he would have retracted it.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:46 pm 
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I don't have near as much of a problem with wanting to keep traditional meanings of words as I do with the last paragraph of the article. It's a shame the man can't get over his racial bigotry; which hurts ALL of America - not just the GOP.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:01 pm 
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http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/shared ... a_are.html
Quote:
Barack and Michelle Obama are ‘uppity,’ says Lynn Westmoreland
Thursday, September 4, 2008, 03:50 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, who was born and raised in the South, said Thursday that he’s never heard the word “uppity” used in a racially loaded fashion — and meant nothing more than “elitist” when he applied it to Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
westmoreland.jpg

“If anyone read more into it, no undercurrent was intended,” Westmoreland spokesman Brian Robinson said this evening.

In a Washington D.C. conversation with reporters, the two-term Sharpsburg congressman was discussing the speech of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin when he was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said, according to The Hill, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill.

When asked to clarify, Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

The Hill immediately posted the incident on-line, where it zipped around the Internet, causing Westmoreland’s office phones to ring off the hook.

The incident underlines the cultural minefields that come with a presidential campaign that features the first African-American to win the nomination of a major political party. Republicans say they’re merely trying to portray Obama as out of touch with working Americans, but some Democrats say the GOP is speaking in cultural code.

For decades in the segregated South, “uppity” was a word applied to African-Americans who attempted to rise above servile positions.

“It was only a matter of time before Republican officials shifted from oblique racially-charged language to brazen racially-charged language,” wrote Steve Benen, author of a blog for Washington Monthly magazine.

Though raised by a struggling, single mother, Obama studied at both Columbia University in New York and Harvard University. Michelle Obama was raised on Chicago’s rough south side, the daughter of a city pump operator — but she attended both Princeton and Harvard universities.

This spring, Obama apologized for his “poor word choices” at a California fund-raiser in which he described small-town Americans as “bitter” over the souring economy and clinging to religion and guns in response.

Citing that gaffe, Hillary Clinton sought to apply the “elitist” label to Obama in the Democratic primary. Republicans have tried to do so during their national convention in Minnesota.

“In small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening,” Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP nominee for vice president, said Wednesday in her debut speech.

A spokeswoman for the Obama campaign in Georgia declined comment.

In the article published by The Hill, the national Obama campaign did not note any racial context in the Georgia congressman’s remarks. “Sounds like Rep. Westmoreland should be careful throwing stones from his candidate’s eight glass houses,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Robinson, Westmoreland’s spokesman, said the Obama response proved that no offense was intended. “They saw it as the way he meant it,” Robinson said.

Westmoreland, who is contemplating a 2010 run for governor, released the following statement:

“I’ve never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense. It is important to note that the dictionary definition of ‘uppity’ is ‘affecting an air of inflated self-esteem — snobbish.’

“That’s what we meant by uppity when we used it in the mill village where I grew up,” Westmoreland said.

Considered one of the most conservative members of Congress, Westmoreland represents the 3rd District, which covers much of central and western Georgia, from Henry County to Muscogee County. He was first elected to Congress in 2004, after beating Republican primary rival Dylan Glenn, an African-American.

Glenn was supported by several high-ranking Republicans, including former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich, who argued that the state GOP needed more diversity. That prompted DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, a Democrat who is also African-American, to jump into the campaign on Westmoreland’s behalf.

Both Jones and Westmoreland were first elected to the state House in 1992. Westmoreland later became the House minority leader.


chapelccino wrote:
He was born in 1950 (therefore approx. 58 years old), raised in the segregated south, and never heard the phrase 'uppity black'?

Give me a break.


When I first heard about this on Thursday, I looked over to my manager (60yrs old and born and raised in Atlanta, Ga) and asked him if there was any racial undertone to the word uppity. At first he said no, and then a few minutes later he looked up and said "Oh yeah, there is" and explained it to me. In fact, his explanation had nothing to do with the civil rights era, but went back to slave days.

So yes, it's possible for a person from the segregated south to use that term and not have any racial undertones involved.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:11 pm 
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I grew up in the South, and I cringed when I read this! :oops: It's hard to imagine that this man didn't know it was a racially inflammatory term. It's often paired with another racial slur. This paragraph is accurate:

Quote:
For decades in the segregated South, “uppity” was a word applied to African-Americans who attempted to rise above servile positions.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:16 pm 
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This is definitely a racially prejudiced term. I can't believe this dude didn't know that.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:17 pm 
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Uppity is racist? :? That's a new one to me and probably most of my generation.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:21 pm 
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I grew up in Atlanta and still reside here and I have never heard the term "uppity" used in a racial context. I've used the term to describe other people plenty of times, and they people I was speaking of were always white. I consider myself highly educated, and simply had no idea this was racial in any sense of the word.

If this is the best the Dems can grab onto, good luck. Who hasn't watched Obama (or Michelle) speak and not left with the perception that they think they are snobbish, arrogant and better than other people (of whatever race)?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:36 pm 
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This is very interesting to see how a single word can be interpreted in different ways - sometimes very badly - and how innocently someone could offend someone else without even knowing it. It's kind of scary. I would never, ever, intentionally use a racial slur. It would be very scary to think that it could bring down someone's lifetime career. It kind of reminds me of the LDS question that Mike innocently asked that had what, I believe, was a definite effect on this election.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:41 pm 
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It sounds like it must be a regional thing. Around here, uppity has the dictionary meeting ("Presumptuously arrogant"), though I don't think I have heard anyone use it for at least 15 years.

As others have pointed out, if this guy grew up in the region he should know all of its meanings.

Say, speaking of vocabulary, has anyone ever heard of Johnson O'Connor? He did some very interesting research on vocabulary.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:48 pm 
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Specifically uppity has been used with the "N" word in the past and just saying uppity in connection with a black person will cause that connection to be made for many people.

The congressman may have said it innocently but when told it was a considered a racial slur, he should have specifically taken it back, said he made a mistake, and apologized.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:15 pm 
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keneikirk wrote:
The congressman may have said it innocently but when told it was a considered a racial slur, he should have specifically taken it back, said he made a mistake, and apologized.


Exactly! How hard would that have been and would have made a world of difference.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:50 pm 
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keneikirk wrote:
Specifically uppity has been used with the "N" word in the past and just saying uppity in connection with a black person will cause that connection to be made for many people.

The congressman may have said it innocently but when told it was a considered a racial slur, he should have specifically taken it back, said he made a mistake, and apologized.


Agreed.

I don't know what is in the Congressman's heart or what was on his mind when he said that. I think people can make mistakes and say things - we all say stupid things sometimes.

BUT, I find it incredibly hard to believe the claim that he didn't know the word has often been used in the south, where he's from and where he currently is based, in the way that Ken described. It could be that he didn't mean anything by it. But understand that when something like this is said and then not retracted when the person is given an opportunity to retract - coming from a person who is very likely to understand that this is something that could and probably will be misinterpreted - it can cause hard feelings. Especially when the news coverage that inevitably follows the remark and refusal to rephrase reveals that he also opposed extending the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. It should be understood that this will make a lot of people very uncomfortable and do the exact opposite of what some in the party want to do in expanding the base. I have thought about this several times today and feel really weird about it.

When Huck made the joke gone bad, nobody really gave him a hard time about it. I spent four hours writing an article defending him and highlighting what a great guy Huck is. That's because everybody knew that it was a joke gone bad - something that can happen to anyone . No one thought it was a mean-spirited remark that he uttered to push racial buttons. But I am not sure what to think about the "uppity" comment - based on the person who said it and his background of being exposed to this (in all likelihood) and my expectation that he should know better. And when combined with the fact that many in the voting public already believe that the GOP is run by racially insensitive (at best) or openly hostile people, understand that this works to make the opposite of what everybody wants more likely to happen. It also causes unncessecary pain for some who don't believe the person didn't understand the context in which the comments could be taken.

Would you rather be talking about an idiotic comment or highlighting differences in positions? And would you rather have more people decide their votes not on issues but because they're now convinced more than ever that the party has lots of folks in it that want to go back in time?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:54 pm 
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There is no way that a 58 yer-old from the segregated south didn't know "uppity" was a racially charged word.

We have to purge these types from the Republican party, they are reason that while 80% of blacks are conservative, 95% vote Democratic. (My #'s are approx. so don't quote me on that - remembering what someone posted on here.)

I hope Huckabee puts this guy in his place. The RP really needs Mike Huckabee.

PS - Maybe some of you younger folks didn't realize this term was loaded, but I guarantee you it is second only to the N-word as a derogatory racial term.

I must admit, though, that I didn't know "articulate" was offensive. I used it myself back when I first discovered Alan Keyes and loved him. I was surprised at the response.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:06 pm 
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"Articulate" is not something I consider "offensive." I know people who might say that are not trying in any way to offend me. That's totally different altogether in every way than the historical context of the word uppity when used racially in the south.

In general, most people won't get offended by anything coming from people they know don't mean to be disrespectful. The underlying problem is not so much a matter of words but it is a deep distrust that can be easily inflamed when people say things that they are expected to know could be seen as hurtful but say it anyway and don't seem to have sincere regret for causing offense.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2008 5:05 pm 
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TheValuesVoter wrote:
In general, most people won't get offended by anything coming from people they know don't mean to be disrespectful. The underlying problem is not so much a matter of words but it is a deep distrust that can be easily inflamed when people say things that they are expected to know could be seen as hurtful but say it anyway and don't seem to have sincere regret for causing offense.


It's that last line that is the most important to me. "And don't seem to have sincere regret for causing offense." I appreciate that Mike Huckabee bends over backwards to be a leader who seeks not to cause offense. It has caused him to receive much respect from the African-American population. I wish more Republicans would learn from his example.


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