So I have a lot of friends with different ideas about how to deal with the racist swear words and old-fashioned terminology we have in our language. Some of them are stricter than others. Some people think the n-word, for example, should be censored out of old books (I think I agree with them on this, but actually only if those books are aimed at young children who will read them for pleasure, who will have them read to them as goodnight stories. Simple story books by Enid Blyton, for example, which kids read quickly and hungrily like adults read Dan Brown or Ken Follet. I know I sound like a snob here! But these books don’t need the n-word or the g-word or any of the other words in them. I also actually think there’d be nothing wrong in getting rid of all references to Roma people in Blyton books as they’re always totally racist, i.e. they’re always thieves. It might be an okay idea, however, to have academic school versions of, say, Huckleberry Finn, which teachers can use when doing an English lesson/project which focuses on history and also racism and where the teachers can explain to the kids that the n-word wasn’t racist in those days because black people weren’t seen as fully human yet. FOR EXAMPLE. This is my opinion, and it’s not perfect, and it also changes quite a lot).
Some people think the n-word is totally fine in hiphop songs or YouTube videos. Some people think the n-word is fine in YouTube videos made by white comedians, because they’re just trying to be provocative and we should just ignore them, like toddlers saying „fuck“ at the dinner table. Some people, and I actually have a lot of sympathy with this opinion, think it’s a bit ridiculous how much time we spend discussing words when there are children in cages, people drowning in the ocean, camps being built all over the world. I mean, it’s only words. It’s only sounds you make with your mouth.
You can say all the correct words and still put kids in cages. Probably an ICE employee who used the n-word would still get fired but the president of the United States can say migrants are infesting his country and there’s nothing we can do about it. I have sympathy with those people who say the whole racist language debate is a bit of a storm in a teacup, some days I feel this way myself.
I have a friend
Now, a lot of the people who dislike the usage of the n-word are socialists or social democrats. Like a lot. If you did a Venn diagram, this would be pretty clear. BUT NOT ALL OF THEM. I have one Marxist friend who thinks we need a revolution and that everyone who uses the n-word is a fascist. But I also have friends who are fairly fiscally conservative who hate the n-word. I have American friends who genuinely disliked Bernie and genuinely admired and respected Hillary Clinton who hate the n-word. I have friends who think unions in Germany have too much power who hate the n-word. I have friends who are totally indifferent to poverty and party politics and family policies about kindergarten or Kindergeld who hate the n-word. I have friends who really fucking hate Jeremy Corbyn because of his EU stance who hate the n-word. I have one friend who thinks it is totally fair enough for pizza delivery guys to be employed on a freelance status and guess what? He hates the n-word too.
Now of course I wish all these people were socialists or at the very least social democrats. I want everyone to be a socialist or at the very least social democrats. I think it’s better for people to have solidarity with the weakest in our society and I also think once we start voting in more left-wing governments, like I don’t wanna overstate things here, once we start voting in decent people, our lives and our world will look and feel so much better in every way. I literally think capitalism is to blame for almost all our problems. But the thing is, and I hate to be the one to have to break it to you, NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME. NOT EVERYONE IS A SOCIALIST.
I know why people assume that every PoC must be a socialist, it’s because they see ethnic minorities as weak and they see socialism as protecting the weak. However, not everyone who isn’t white sees themselves as weak, and not everyone who sees themselves as weak thinks socialism is the answer.
It’s a bit telling that white people complain, every time someone calls them out (or tells them off, let’s be honest) for using racist language, that this is why the Linke is so gespalten. I’m going to repeat myself here because it seems like people have a lot of problems getting their heads around it. PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT YOU TO USE RACIST LANGUAGE MIGHT NOT BE SOCIALISTS, THEREFORE THEY CANNOT SPALTEN THE LINKE. Okay? They can make left-wing people feel uncomfortable, and possible they can make non-racist white people so frustrated and irritated that they just decide to become racists, because you know, if you’re going to get wet you might as well go swimming. BUT YOU CANNOT SPALTEN SOMETHING YOU ARE NOT A PART OF.
For fuck’s sake, people have different opinions
I have sympathy for the idea that we should all come together, fight the bastards who are putting kids in cages, and not split hairs about words like „half-caste“ or people putting „the“ in front of a descriptive plural noun – the gays, the blacks. I really do. But here’s the thing. Lots of people, lots of people in the Linke, the Linke Partei and the linke scene, have lots of different ideas. Left-wing people in Germany are fairly split over Israel, the EU, Bedingungsloses Grundeinkommen. The only people who are being told that their opinions are going to spalten the Linke are PoC complaining about racist terminology.
„This is why people vote for the AfD!“ „This is why the Linke is so divided!“ For fuck’s sake. People have different opinions. There are people who describe themselves as Linke who literally think Merkel is Jewish, or that the banks are run by Jews. It’s telling that people who come out with shit like this are just ignored, but people who think the use of racist language in books, even in dialogue, always promotes, at least to some extent, racist ideas, CANNOT BE IGNORED. Why can’t these ideas be ignored, if they’re so silly and so ridiculous? Just ignore them. People have different opinions, they always have, the only thing that has changed is we now can find out other people’s different opinions far more quickly, and respond ourselves, quicker and also easier than ever before.
Do I ever think call-out culture has gone too far? Yeah sure, especially when I get called out myself, lol. It’s annoying and you feel defensive. Would I like it if people were a bit softer when they called people out? Sure. Wouldn’t do any harm. Do I think everyone who uses racist terminology in their texts is a racist? Hell, no! My stories are filled with racist terminology, admittedly most of it done by ignorance. But „Asylanten“ is in my first book, the z-word, I think, in my last one. Do I think that when people are calling people out they should bear in mind how much exposure they have had to intellectual discussions about language and how much exposure the called out person has had and operate with generosity? ABSOLUTELY!
But the idea that PoCs‘ opinions are splitting the Linke has no basis in reality. I mean, every time a woman on Twitter expresses her opinion on a famous rape case, her in-box gets filled with rape threats. I don’t know why I wrote that in the third person when I am obviously talking about myself. But nobody tells the rape threat boys that they are splitting the right! They are allowed their opinions, they are allowed, basically, to threaten women with rape and actually break the law. But PoC aren’t „allowed“ to say what they think about racist words. They should suck it up. They should swallow their words, you should bite your tongue. Because your opinions are spalting the Linke, you’re the reason so many people vote AfD.
This is actually, if we’re totally honest, just an implied threat: stop complaining about words, or you’ll end up in camps. It’s unsolidarisch. It’s really shit. I personally think, even if you don’t agree with someone, you should let them say their opinion in public. This whole spalting the Linke-keule is really, if we’re honest, just white people getting ready for fascism. It is really, if we’re honest, just white people adapting. It is really, if we’re honest, total bullshit.