Sunday, June 29, 2008

Word of the Day - Mau Maued

Ahhh. Maureen Dowd. NYT's resident bitchy vixen, has managed to use the term Mau Mau in relation to Barack Obama. I'm not sure how many main stream media types would dare to do this. There is absolutely no way this was a mistake. She's playing with fire, teasing all the conservative writers who would get pilloried for such cutesiness with racially charged terms.

Here's the quote from Sunday's column:

"It’s hard to fathom why Obama should be mau-maued into paying off the debt that Hillary and Bill accrued attacking and undermining him, while mismanaging the campaign and their nearly quarter-billion-dollar war chest so horribly that one Hillaryland insider told The New Republic that it bordered on fraud."

Redheaded Seductress Maureen Dowd

Excellent point! Especially given that about $12MM of Hillary's $22MM campaign debt is owed to Hillary herself, and another $6MM is owed to the hateful and rightfully despised Mark Penn. Take those two out of the mix and I'll send in $100. I don't even mind paying Hillary back, but as long as Mark Penn is in the mix, fuggedaboutit.

So, unless you're as old as John McCain, you're probably wondering, "What the hell is a Mau-Mau?" Some kind of chocolate-coconut candy from Hawaii? Well, no.

The Mau Maus were a group of African revolutionaries in Kenya in the 1940's and 1950's, fighting English imperial rule. They used protests, strikes, and terrorism to fight the English. Of course they were also black, and so even scarier than the Irish Catholics. The Mau Mau lost, but their cause ultimately prevailed.

Kenyan Mau-Maus

And their name has stuck around. Tom Wolfe used it in a hip book from the 1970's. (Isn't it funny that Tom Wolfe used to be hip?) As a verb, it means to strong arm someone, which is a form of "unarmed" (hah hah!) robbery. Basically to bully someone into doing something or giving up something.

But, it also is used, rarely, as a racial pejorative for black people, implying that they are criminals or violent. When I say rarely, I'd say not as rarely as "Macaca," which I had not heard used as an epithet prior to Senator George Allen's famous blurtation.

So, for context, I've included this song from Hair! which includes the use of Mau-Mau (I know I'm being inconsistent with the hyphens) among a litany of racially derogatory pronouns. It's also a pretty snappy tune. But don't sing it at work.

I'm not typing or saying the name of this song.

So, what do you think? Will Maureen catch any flak? Should there be fallout? Will anyone even notice? If nobody notices, is that even worse for Maureen? And finally, what is she up to with this?

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