Reclaiming the n-word has been one of the few successful projects of our lifetime, and most of the thanks belongs to hip hop. The n-word used to be a word white people said to black people. Now it is a word black people say to one another, while white people hope silently that a black person will say it to them. This situation is better in all regards—except, ironically, for hip hop. The prevalence of the n-word in rap poses a major problem to its largest audience demographic, white people between the ages of 18 and 35. Now that the work of reclamation has been achieved, we should agree to replace the n-word in music with the word “Inca,” so that when we are rapping along with “Pass Dat,” we don’t have to choose between saying the n-word fifty times and delivering an inferior performance.
Tuesday was another brisk trading day for the marketplace of ideas. After Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D–FL) criticized his support for a bill that would cut Medicare spending, Rep. Allen West (R–FL) issued an email to her and several House leaders that read, in part:
You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!
That’s like paragraph two. West’s last imperative is kind of odd, given that A) he lives in Wasserman Schultz’s district and B) the function of the House of Representatives is presumably not for everyone to shut up and focus on his own district. West was angry when he wrote that, perhaps because Wasserman Schultz had just delivered the following remarks from the House floor:
The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries—unbelievable from a member from South Florida.
In Florida, they call that the age card. It’s dirty rhetoric for sure, but there remains a substantial gap in tone between Wasserman Schultz’s remarks, addressed to the gentleman from Florida, and West’s response, which begins with Look, Debbie… There’s also that part about vile and despicable; those are probably not terms we should use to debate one another. They are catchy, though, right?