Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Over at The Corner last night, one of Jerome's brilliant anagrams brought on some discussion of the word "Cracker" as it pertains to certain poor, rural southern White Americans.  It flowed over into today's discussion when the word "cracker" appeared in today's LA Times crossword as part of clue 11A.  Ant shared a link to a timely Arizona Republic article in which the word "cracker" again appears, used this time as a specific pejorative.

I was pondering this overnight, and I think the article reinforces my conclusion.  Help me out if I've got this wrong, but I think "Cracker" is pretty lame, as pejoratives go.  Further, it is not racist in the same sense as the word used in the name of a certain Texas hunting ranch.

And this is why: words like "Nigger," "Spic," "Chink," etc. are used promiscuously to denigrate any and all members of whatever ethnic group one chooses to revile. These are collectives that do not readily admit exceptions in the minds and hearts of those who use them.  "Cracker" does not fit that mold.  Though being white is a necessary qualifier to be a "Cracker," it is not the defining characteristic.

From my Midwestern perspective, I can't say for sure exactly what the characteristics of crackerhood are, but I can take some guesses.  To whit: a "Cracker" is clannish, prejudiced, xenophobic, ignorant, and - above all - racist.  The fact that he is also white is a trivial detail.

I think the Arizona Republic article linked above illustrates this pretty effectively.  Carlos Gross, an African-American man was insulted by an unidentified white man's use of an unidentified racial epithet.  Gross called the other man a "cracker" and beat him with a baseball bat.  Gross was wounded by the unidentified word.  The other guy was wounded by a physical assault.  Evidently, "cracker," which the A.R. had no problem printing, didn't come close to evening the score.

The main point, though, is that the guy who was physically injured earned his badge of crackerhood, not by being white, but by being ignorant and racist.

I shouldn't have to point this out, but it's probably necessary.  I am not equating an insult with physical harm, and I am not condoning Gross's assault of the other guy.  Gross did a lot of things wrong here.  His underlying problem was taking the other guy's comment to heart.  If you let somebody affect your behavior with an insult, you are giving that unworthy person undeserved and unnecessary control over some facet of your life.


Tinbeni said...


I think you stated it well.

That one "Holier-than-Thou" Anon we have at the LAT is (how can I put this nicely) an asshole.

That whole discussion was way-over-the-top.

That is why I have decided to ignore his comments.

Ever notice that, NOT-ONCE, has he made a comment on the puzzle.

Jerome said...

Hey Jazz... Jerome here. Well put, nicely thought out. I'm a tad amazed that anyone would be offended by my use of the word "cracker". I've been called many a rotten thing and have taken offense. However, cracker is simply laughable in terms of the power to insult. I swear, if someone called me that I'd be much amused at such a weak attempt to shame me.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jerome, didn't you bitchslap Tinbeni for saying Jap beer to no one in particular?

Jazzbumpa said...

Tin man -

Aha. Good points. Every once in a while when I'm at Costco, I foolishly pick up the 50 Lb bag of Purina Troll Chow. My bad.

Jerome -

Thanks for the visit. I agree cracker is less than lame. Your anagrams were brilliant today -- AGAIN.

Anon -

I'm not deleting your foolish, trollish off-topic comment because it is so illustrative.

Clearly, you have no clue.

Further, your intent is to demean rather than enlighten.

I'll just leave it here so that anyone who sees it can recognize you for what (though not WHO - that remain unknowable) you are: irresponsible, craven, and gratuitously negative.

And you lecture on etiquette?!?

You should be suitably embarrassed.

But I'm quite certain you aren't.

I'm laughing at you.

But in a sad way.


C. C. said...

Thanks for this post. I've never heard of "cracker" as a racist term. I say "drive me crackers/nuts" often.

Jerome said...

"Purina Troll Chow". That's funny. Doggone funny

HeartRx said...

Jazz, you just CRACKer me up!! Purina Troll Chow?

And I have to agree with Jerome - I have been called worse in my life. So, if someone wants to call me a CHEEZIT, I don't think I'll get my shorts all in a knot.