IRS Spells the “N-word”

Those Republicans are always trying to find new ways to use racial slurs that pass under the radar of non-racist Republicans. They can’t actually use words like the n-word anymore, thanks to the efforts of Progressives, but they have developed a whole vocabulary or code words that sound innocuous, but are, in fact, dog whistles that the racists understand perfectly. Michelle Malkin has compiled a short list of such words, which include; angry, constitution (written by slave owners), Chicago, inexperienced, golf, and many more. Martin Bashir from MSNBC has identified another code word used by racist Republicans, IRS.

MARTIN BASHIR: The IRS is being used in exactly the same way as they tried to used the president’s birth certificate. You see, for Republicans like Darrell Issa, who knows something about arson, the IRS now stands for something inflammatory. Those three letters are now on fire with political corruption and malfeasance, burning hot. Just like that suspicious fire that engulfed Mr. Issa’s warehouse back in 1982.

And, despite the complete lack of any evidence linking the president to the targeting of tea party groups, Republicans are using it as their latest weapon in the war against the black man in the White House.

This strategy is nothing new. And it was explained way back in 1981, by Lee Atwater, who was Bush 41’s chief strategist. In a tape recording, Mr. Atwater revealed how Republicans evolved their language to achieve the same purpose.

He said: ‘You start out in 1954, by saying ‘n*****, n*****, n*****. By 1968, you can’t say n*****, that hurts you, back-fires. So you say stuff like forced bussing, states rights, and all that stuff and you’re getting so abstract. Now you’re talking about cutting taxes. We want to cut this is much more abstract than even the bussing thing and a hell of a lot more abstract than n*****, n*****.’

So this afternoon, we welcomed the latest phrase in the lexicon of Republican attacks on this president: the IRS. Three letters that sound so innocent but we know what you mean.

I wonder if Lee Atwater really made the statements attributed to him, and if so, what context he made them in. Actually both states’ rights and forced busing are legitimate topics for discussion, even without any racial element. With the racial element, these topics might provide a good start to that discussion about race the liberals are always saying they want. Somehow, though, I think the discussion they want involves lecturing the rest of us on how racist we all are.

The debate over the balance of power between the states and the federal government is an old one, going back to the foundation of our country. The United States is meant to be a federal republic with powers and sovereignty divided between the states and the federal government. There is much to be said in favor of a decentralized government and the increasing power of the federal government at the expense of the states is legitimate concern. It is most unfortunate, however, that the cry of state’s rights has all too often been used to defend slavery and segregation. One can believe in state’s rights without supporting either of those two odious policies, but the modern day statist is quick to made the connection.

As for forced busing, surely it is simply insane to ship children to schools on the other side of a city just to achieve a racial quota, when they could be better off attending the nearest school. After all, the whole point of Brown vs. the Board of Education was that black parents did not want their children to have to attend a “black” school miles away when they could go to a “white” school just down the block.

But, of course, Mr Bashir is not really interested in uncovering racism at all. He, and others like him, want to forestall any discussion of the unethical and illegal antics of the IRS by simply labeling the entire topic as racist.

What the Koran Really Says

What the Koran Really Says is a somewhat misleading title for Ibn Warraq’s book since the subject is not Islamic theology or Koranic exegesis. What this book is instead, is an anthology of articles dealing with various aspects of the Koran’s origins, history, linguistics, and textual criticism. For a number of reasons, the Koran has not been subjected to textual and literary criticism nearly as much as the Bible and the papers reprinted in What the Koran Really Says help to fill that lack somewhat.

bk_KoranReallySays

There are political and cultural reasons that the Koran has not been as thoroughly analyzed as the Bible, but one of the main reasons has to be the simple fact that the history and language of the Koran is far more opaque that the Bible’s. The text of the Koran is often very hard to understand, even by native speakers of Arabic and the way the texts jumps from subject to subject within every sura and even within paragraphs suggests a haphazard and complicated history of composition and editing.

The Greek New Testament was written in the context of a highly literate culture with a historical and cultural background fairly well known to the historian. We know more about the events of the first century AD than about almost any other period in the ancient world. The Hebrew Old Testament is older and the circumstances of its composition are somewhat more obscure, but Palestine or Israel is on the cross-road between Asia and Africa and we can gain a fairly accurate idea of the history of the region from the records left by the Egyptians and the various Mesopotamian states, not to mention from the Israelites themselves.

The Koran, on the other hand, was created by a semi-literate people who lived on the fringes of the major civilizations of the time. We have few records of the Arabian Peninsula during the time of Mohammed and for the first century of the Islamic era, beyond traditional Muslim accounts that are difficult to verify. It is possible that almost everything that is said about the composition of the Koran, including the time and place it was revealed, is untrue and in fact, we cannot be certain that Mohammed actually existed or if he did the deeds attributed to him. The language of the Koran is Arabic, but again, many words in the text seem to have been derived from other Semitic languages, and it is not always whether the dialect is that of the Bedouins of central Arabia, as tradition states, or perhaps the language is closer to that of Northern Arabia, where the speakers might be more influenced by Syriac or Aramaic.

The articles presented in What the Koran Really Says deal with these questions and more. They are all very well done and thorough, however they are also intended for an audience of scholars and, as a layman, I sometimes had trouble following them. I think someone more knowledgeable of Arabic grammar and the text of the Koran would get more out of this book than I would. As it is, my attention wandered while reading about the fine points of grammatical constructions or the precise meaning of a sentence. The best and most interesting portions of this book were the introductions written by Ibn Warraq himself and I think he would have done a better service to his readers by writing a book which summarized and explained the arguments found in the various articles.

Still, I cannot complain if the book is not for me. I am certain that any scholar who wishes to study the origins and development of the Koran will find What the Koran Really Says to be a valuable resource.