The Double Standard Returns in the Form of Palin

The “folksy” manner of Sarah Palin wears thin after a while but I never thought about it from a racial perspective until I read the following in The Huffington Post:

So let’s play a thought game. Imagine if a folksy, inexperienced black woman was nominated to be vice president on the Democratic ticket. And imagine that instead of coming from Alaska she came from Alabama, and instead of dropping white aw-shucksisms like “Doggone” and “You betcha” into her conversation, she used the equivalent black vernacular.

Imagine, as well, if her sentences didn’t come close to parsing, if they were wickedly ungrammatical — no, anti-grammatical — clouds of disconnected thoughts and sound bites. The right would rise up in indignation and disgust, and the most vitriolic, the Rush Limbaughs, the Michael Savages, would decry the presence of Ebonics on the national stage.

Were she black, Sarah Palin’s performance would have been skewered by the right as undignified and demeaning to the office she seeks. But because she is a culture warrior in heels, she is hailed by the right as a breath of populist fresh air, and her use of what conservatives once sniffed at as “substandard English” is celebrated as a signifier of her glorious everydayness.

via Adam Hanft: Sarah Palin and the New White Ebonics.

I remarked to a friend the other day that Palin could accurately discuss Einstein’s theory of relativity and still sound ignorant. As Hanft points out in his article, the one saving grace of conservatives at one time was standards. They abhorred the watering down of standards (one reason for their fervent opposition to affirmative action). Sarah Palin represents the final devolution of conservative values. If she were black, she would never have been nominated by the Republicans and as a Democrat, she would have been summarily dismissed.

Hanft concludes:

But with their combination of anti-intellectualism and over-injection of religion into the public sphere, as reified by the Governor of Alaska, the conservative movement has abandoned any claim on our intelligence. You betcha.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance


4 thoughts on “The Double Standard Returns in the Form of Palin

  1. Oh, I don’t know … I think that you might be right, but I don’t like these hypothetical scenarios. I tend to yell at the radio whenever a Limbaugh-type says things like, “If a liberal had done this, no one would care” or “If a white guy said something like that, the whole media would be up in arms.”

    I can see your point, but lacking a real example, I’m not willing to take it for granted.

  2. I have to seperate two things. “You Betcha”, while grating and poorly enunciated, is not, in fact, erroneous. Admittedly, it may be the verbal equivilent of the so-called “terrorist fist bump” (which has caught on in MA like wildfire), but it does not offend my english teacher neurons.

    The lack of coherent thinking, and the grammatical mistakes – those are both signs of a weaker mind – and that is what’s troubling. We have had “folksy” candidates before, with strong arguments and amusing colloquialisms, and that has been just fine – even approachable and endearing. No one thought clinton was an idiot because he had a southern accent.

    I would actually hope that a black candidate with a similarly weak mind, regardless of ebonic stylings, would be similarly skewered (as I think it is fair to say, sarah is).

    To folksyness comes down to one thing – is it part of your personality, and thus endearing and complimentary to your other qualities – or is it a crutch you’re using to distract from your lack of aptitude, which is entirely unacceptable in a candidate.

    And could someone teach that woman to say Nuclear?

  3. Actually, Lilac, I think that we should consider amending the Constitution to add to the requirements for the President that he or she be able to pronounce “nuclear” correctly.

    I’m not sure that we can take another four years of discussing the “nucular” threat.

  4. Lilac, I do agree that folksy is not necessarily a bad trait in a candidate. Reagan was folksy and it was effective. Heck, Abe Lincoln was folksy. But both these men had some standard of speech befitting the leader of the free world. I have to differ with you that “you betcha” just does not cut it.

    Wickle, I understand your discomfort with hypotheticals. I believe hypotheticals serve not so much to suggest fact as to highlight a possible interpretation that makes the reader re-think what has been stated. In other words, I would not take for granted that there is a double standard at play here, nor would I take for granted that there isn’t. The purpose of the hypothetical is to challenge what we all take for granted and force us to consider other possibilities.This was achieved by your thinking “I think that you might be right.” Had the hypothetical not been posed, you might never have considered the argument.

    And thanks to both of you for the “nucular” comment. LOL I also wish she wouldn’t say also so much also. 🙂

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