Thursday, November 15, 2012


Via Fox Nation, I see that NewsBusters is claiming that Chris Matthews invented the notion that the word "urban" is a euphemism for "black" or "non-white" in certain contexts:
The list of words MSNBC's Chris Matthews believes are racist if uttered by a conservative got longer on Wednesday.

You can now add "urban" which offended Matthews when Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said it during an interview Monday....

"There's more of this dog whistle crap going on," said Matthews... "Here's Paul Ryan expressing his surprise at the pro-Obama turnout in an interview Monday."

In the video clip, Ryan said, "I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout in urban areas which definitely gave President Obama the big margin to win this race."

... "Why did he have to go step on his own headline 'They won fair and square' by saying, 'Oh it was the black vote?'" Matthews preposterously asked. "Basically, that's what he was saying."

Really? So if a conservative talks about urban, suburban, and ex-urban voters just like anyone else might, he or she is being racist?

Do only blacks live in cities in America? There are no whites in Manhattan, Boston, or Philadelphia?
Other learned winger language experts who think Matthews made this up all by himself include the folks at Weasel Zippers, Michelle Malkin, and a motley crew of right-leaners whose tweets are collected at Malkin's Twitchy.

I can't give you a definitive history of this usage, but I know it goes way back. An organization called the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes changed its name to the National Urban League in 1920; it's known by that name to this day.

In the pop music business, what had been known as soul or R&B began to be called "urban contemporary music" or "urban music" back in the 1980s, at least in the trade. If you don't believe me, ask that notorious liberal propaganda outfit Encyclopaedia Britannica.

(Although maybe I shouldn't be sarcastic -- after all, Britannica is based in Chicago! Obama's hometown!)

You can argue about whether what Ryan said was racist (this guy says it wasn't), but there's no doubt about Ryan's meaning. Or Matt Drudge's meaning when he incessantly uses the word "urban."


Kathy said...

Right-wingers think only their own can hear the dog whistles. They think using them gives plausible deniability. They are mistaken on both those points.

Unknown said...

Well, to be fair, Ryan did lose to the massive Obama-driven turnout in urban areas like, um, Janesville, Wisc.,0,3915876.story

Raenelle said...

To be fair, "urban" might really just mean city to them. Just like the confederate flag is just a way to honor their state's history. And saying they want their country back wasn't about Obama's race but . . . Oh, never mind.

What I would like is for us to develop our own code words, ways to call those crackers racist and have plausible deniability that we actually called them racist.

Rand Careaga said...

Late in the last century, when I finally went house-hunting, I came across another euphemism, perhaps realty-specific: "I don't know if this neighborhood would really be a good fit for you. It's rather...congested."

oc democrat said...

My favorite Newt description:
A STUPID person's idea of what a smart person sounds like!

URBAN is the intellectual(?) racist way of saying city!

Urban just sounds sooo much "smarter" than city!

Victor said...

Nabisco aint' the only makers of 'Crackers!"

Just look at the "Sesech" states.

J Neo Marvin said...

I first heard "urban" in that context as a radio format, i.e. "urban" stations play black music for black audiences.

Yastreblyansky said...

It was Rep. Steve King (Insane-Iowa) who was quoted two years ago calling Obama "very, very urban". Later said he didn't mean anything by it though.

Yastreblyansky said...