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Racist? Why Would Anyone Think She’s a Racist?

One of the many people who Tweeted after last week’s election to call President Obama a nigger (no, I’m not going to say “n-word” — we all know what the word is and there is no need for euphemism here) has been fired and seems to be baffled by those who think it was racist. Here’s what she said:

“I don’t understand what I did wrong,” she told FOX40.

However, she later admitted that what she said was “wrong.” Helms also argued that she is not a racist and said she doesn’t really want Obama to be assassinated because, after all, he “does have two kids.”

Now she says she takes it all back. Kind of.

When pressed about the post, Helms said she was not a racist.

“It does [sound like I'm a racist],” Helms said, “but I am not. That’s what everyone’s been telling me, ‘You know, what you said sounded so racist,’ and it does, and you know, I take it back. If I could erase what I said, I would.”

Of course you would. You lost your job over it. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a racist. You are. And all the pretending otherwise is just ridiculous.

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    *shrug* I once again find it not very useful to debate whether a given person is a racist. Who knows? Although it seems wildly implausible, maybe she is normally very racially sensitive and this was a complete one-off aberration. I’d probably bet a lot of money against such a proposition, but for sake of argument, we don’t know it’s not true.

    What she said is so blatantly forehead-smacking-obviously racist that it makes mah head asplode even thinking somebody could deny it. “I’m not a racist!”, I don’t care. You said a despicably racist thing, there was no other way to take it, now own up to it. Yeesh…

  2. says

    As far as I am aware, there are a few circumstances in which using the word ‘nigger’ is not racist.

    However, Ms Helm’s use of the word ‘nigger’ is emphatically not one of those few circtumstances. Especially when coupled with a wish for Obama’s death.

  3. says

    She was using “nigger” in its non-racist meaning.

    Or perhaps she meant the comparative of “nig”, with “niggest” being the superlative?

  4. shouldbeworking says

    She’s only sorry she got fired. Nothing else. I’m sorry that her ex co-workers had to put up with such a narrow minded twit.

  5. hexidecima says

    it’s a knee-jerk reaction by a racist caught out to say “but but I’m not a racist”. I’m shocked that she didn’t magically come up with many many “friends” who had more melanin than she does. James it *is* wildly implausible that this woman was “really” racially sensitive, to the point that it makes absolutely no sense to argue for it (for any “sake”) at all.

  6. Who Knows? says

    Listening to the story when they got to the part about the First Amendment, I was pleased to hear them say, free from the law, but not free from consequences.

    That’s the part that too many people do not understand.

  7. says

    I’m sure the people who produced and placed on their cars the “Don’t Re-Nig” bumper stickers were not racists either. (Actually, I could find it believable that some of the Teabaggers think that’s the way to spell renege.

    I don’t read liberal blogs/sites much, but I don’t remember any wishes for Bush’s assassination. Calls for him to be parachuted onto The Hague, sure, but not for his death.

  8. jamessweet says

    James it *is* wildly implausible that this woman was “really” racially sensitive, to the point that it makes absolutely no sense to argue for it (for any “sake”) at all.

    I wasn’t arguing it, I was making a point that whatever this woman wants to tell herself about whether she “is” or “is not” a racist, she said something shockingly staggeringly unambiguously racist. The “is a” test doesn’t matter all that much.

  9. says

    If this woman thinks calling Obama racial epithets and wishing for his death isn’t racist, then I’m very curious about what she thinks IS racist.

  10. says

    Typical Liberals! Feigning outrage at every perceived slight!

    She was speaking French. En Francais, “nigger” is a verb, “to nigg”* (Je nigg, tu nigge, il/elle nigge, ils/elles niggent, nous niggons, vous niggez).

    * Or, in this case, “too nigg”.

  11. DaveL says

    I once again find it not very useful to debate whether a given person is a racist. Who knows?

    I agree. I often find that the tactic of making the argument about a person’s character is used to deflect valid criticism of some belief of behaviour. It doesn’t just work for racism, either. This is the mechanism by which reasonably intelligent, sane individuals can hold stupid or crazy beliefs. They simply let their own self-image stand in for critical examination of those beliefs on their merits.

  12. eric says

    James @2 – I suspect her employer (and pretty much all employers) agree with you. What you think doesn’t make them look bad or good, what you say does. That’s what they’ll fire you over; words, not thoughts.

    Saying ‘I’m not a racist’ is irrelevant to them, even if its true, because if her honestly and sincerely non-racist self had one such verbal or textual slip, they can’t be sure she won’t have another.

  13. Glenn E Ross AKA HeartlessB says

    (no, I’m not going to say “n-word” — we all know what the word is and there is no need for euphemism here)

    Louis C.K. has great bit where he attacks people for using “n-word”. To paraphrase, they make me say the real word in my head but they don’t have the guts to use it.

    On another point, I can’t remember where I read it, but the writer suggested that it was more productive to label an action as racist rather than calling the person a racist.

  14. says

    I once again find it not very useful to debate whether a given person is a racist. Who knows?

    I agree. I think Ed’s FtB neighbor Mr. Cromwell would agree as well, as I’m quite sure he’s posted about how you can only say that an action is raciest, but one raciest remark alone doesn’t really say much about a person. Where I may disagree with Mr. Cromwell is that if a person does/says raciest things on a regular basis, particularly if they have had this pointed out to them time and time again, I am fine with using the term.

  15. says

    Stevarious @1 FTW!

    She was using “nigger” in its non-racist meaning.

    …while advocating a non-violent form of “assassination.” (Like character-assassination maybe?)

  16. Nepenthe says

    As far as I am aware, there are a few circumstances in which using the word ‘nigger’ is not racist.

    The venerable Chris Rock has explained, in great detail, the one instance in which a White person is allowed to say “nigger”.

  17. scienceavenger says

    @10 Some people think the definition of “racist” is “hating a person because of their race”. Seriously. I’ve had a 150+ IQ associate make this exact argument to me recently. They use “nigger” as the other side of the coin from “white trash”, as a perjorative that happens to be race-specific.

    Tally another vote (if we can still manage to in this great country) for Jamessweet’s approach. Just like a smart person may say a stupid thing, a nonracist is still capable of saying a racist thing, and should be called out for it. It’s also a much easier case to make.

  18. MyPetSlug says

    I also like this part

    Helms also argued that she is not a racist and said she doesn’t really want Obama to be assassinated because, after all, he “does have two kids.”

    Yeah, because if he was single then it would be totally ok to wish for his death.

  19. says

    If this woman thinks calling Obama racial epithets and wishing for his death isn’t racist, then I’m very curious about what she thinks IS racist.

    She probably would say that the black voters who voted for Obama were being racist. Wanna bet?

  20. says

    What she doesn’t understand is that it doesn’t matter whether or not she thinks she’s racist – enough other people do. That’s how belief systems work, innit?

  21. baal says

    “I don’t understand what I did wrong,”

    Racial epithet + violent imagery = wrong. The number of times any part of that equation is ok for anyone is extremely limited.

  22. grumpyoldfart says

    She’s not a racist because she calls for the death of a nigger only rarely. The real racists are at all the time.

  23. thisisaturingtest says

    I loved the comments on the story on the Blaze website. So many of them were falling all over themselves to say this was wrong!, her comment was unacceptable!, absolutely inexcusable!- and then going to equally great lengths to excuse it and make it acceptable. (Not to mention the obligatory misunderstandings of “free speech.”)

  24. Hayden says

    I don’t know. Calling her a racist seems a bit like Ray Comfort’s thing of “Have you ever lied? Yes? Then you’re a liar.” Common rebuttals to this take the form of, “If I tell one lie am I a liar? If I cook one steak, am I a chef?”

    I heard an argument once that it’s generally better to call out racist speech than racist people. That is, instead of saying “You’re a racist” say “That is racist.” It will have a tendency to make people less defensive and promote useful discussion.

    I don’t think it’s useful to debate whether she is or is not a racist. What is clear and undisputable is that her tweet was clearly racist, and that is something that it should be easy to convince her of.

  25. says

    The problem isn’t simply making a distinction between a racist statement and character. It’s that the relationship between character, situation and action is complex. We hold contradictory beliefs, have shifting inclinations that are affected by circumstance and as DaveL points out, our self appraisals of character frame the evaluation of our own actions. While I think people easily make mistakes when they infer things about other people’s character, I don’t think it’s a mistake to push people to reconsider the appraisal of their own character, as in maybe I have a racist streak that comes out at times and I’ve been kidding myself about that. There is something quite healthy about looking at yourself sometimes and saying I’m not proud of what I see and this doesn’t speak well for me as a person.

  26. Suido says

    This is ridiculously common.

    Last night’s episode of the Hamster Wheel (Aussie satire/media watch program) had an excellent segment on a recent tabloid journalism piece. Full of good investigative journalism, like getting old, white people to say variations of “I’m not racist, but I don’t like all these asians in my suburb.”

  27. Chiroptera says

    Helms also argued that she is not a racist and said she doesn’t really want Obama to be assassinated because, after all, he “does have two kids.”

    Who cares about the kids? Marxism is hereditary.

  28. says

    There is an alternative reason for some self censorship. And that is simply kindness.

    For a black person, to encounter repeated threads full of niggernigggernigger must be pretty uncomfortable – even if the context is “How terrible this is!” It’s a constant mental battering – a reminder of people hating you. Similarly, when the slymepit got going recently, the sheer repetitiveness of all the cunting and twatting was emotionally draining, and many commenters took to hiding them with rot-13.

    We know the word, we just don’t need to beat people over the head with it. So I mostly do choose to self-censor.

  29. Tony–Queer Duck Overlord of The Bronze– says

    Wes @10:
    Perhaps she thinks one must wear an all white outfit and a pointy hat with eye slits to be a “real” racist.

  30. skinnercitycyclist says

    I have been told many times by many (highschool-age) students over the years that “‘nigger’ doesn’t mean a bad word for a black person, if you look it up in the dictionary it just means an ignorant, low-down person.” Of course, I always ask them if THEY have actually looked it up in the dictionary, and of course they haven’t. But a quaint bit of folk-definition/etymology….

  31. says

    “I don’t know. Calling her a racist seems a bit like Ray Comfort’s thing of “Have you ever lied? Yes? Then you’re a liar.”

    Technically, Mr. Comfort is correct (is that fucking name, like, completely ridiculous for such a tightass scold?). OTOH, he is Schaivolevellish unself-aware of the ironoliciousness of his statement.

    I happen to NOT have a large number of assassination prone niggers amongst my social set. But I do get along well with the non-whites I know, those who are not assholes*.

    * I find my own experience reinforcing the notion that “assholeishnessery” is no respecter of race, belief/non-belief systems, social station, sexual orientation, political affiliation or career path.

  32. caseloweraz says

    The picture attached to that tweet, unsurprisingly, makes her look somewhat different from the way she appears in photos associated to news accounts of her recent “expression of opinion.” (I’m trying to be kind here…)

    According to Fox,

    The woman said she thinks that now everyone believes she is “crazy and racist”. “I’m not racist and I’m not mad. I just expressed my opinion!”

    The most effective way to show her why what she said is wrong is to turn the tables: To refer to her using an epithet and wish for her death.

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