I Apologize, But Only If You Take Offense

South CarolinaI am confused. And outraged. Mainly outraged, and then confused.

South Carolina State Senator John M. “Jake” Knotts Jr. (whew!) said last Thursday on a local radio show:

“We already got one raghead in the White House — we don’t need another in the governor’s mansion … She’s a raghead that’s ashamed of her religion trying to hide it behind being Methodist for political reasons.”

He was referring to SC Gubernatorial candidate (and Republican front-runner) Nikki Haley. Now, his language is shocking, outrageous, and unacceptable. Duly noted. But here’s what’s got me confused: Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants (specifically, Sikhs), and who the hell knows what Obama is. I thought that ‘raghead’ was a derogatory and unacceptable term for Muslims or Arabs or something. I had no idea that it was a general racial slur, usable for whatever non-white person you’re trying to denigrate. Either I’m not up on my racist terms, or he’s a sloppy racist. (Although, to be fair, I don’t know of any slur specific to people of Sikh heritage. I’m sure there is one, but I don’t know it, and I doubt Knotts does either.)

But I guess it doesn’t really matter. Apparently Knotts didn’t really mean it. He explained:

“Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It’s like a local political version of Saturday Night Live. Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.”

So that explains it. He was using derogatory racial terms in a humorous context. Well, that sounds easy. Let me give it a try:

“We already got cracker racists in the South Carolina Senate — we don’t need Knotts too.”

Sounds about right.


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