The Daily Caller calls it a new frontier in hypersensitivity, I call it an exercise in stupidity. It is also a complete waste of taxpayer resources, but hey what to expect from a guy whose role is “Chief Diversity Officer” for the State Department. John M. Robinson explored in his “Diversity Notes” in the most current edition of the State Magazine that certain phrases have hateful pasts.
Such as the name for a beer cocktail called “Black and Tan”:
This year, NIKE, the famous footwear company, celebrated Irish culture and St. Patrick’s Day by introducing a new sneaker in the United States called the Black and Tan. Ah, Black and Tan, the foamy concoction that is half pale ale, half Guinness Stout. What a wonderful celebratory gesture and appreciation for Irish culture. Not!
What the creator failed to account for is the historical context of the Black and Tan. The original Black and Tans were an ad hoc military group that committed atrocities against Irish civilians; the “tan” referred to the khaki of their uniforms. After many apologies following the public relations nightmare that ensued, NIKE recalled the shoe.
I wonder if anyone has complained about the name of the cocktail because I’ve seen it still on the menu of numerous establishments?
Also apparently I’m to be offended by the term “going Dutch.”
Likely you or your colleague meant that each person pays for his or her own meal. The historical meaning: a negative stereotype portraying the Dutch as cheap because they will invite you to a meal but then not pay for it.
I’ve used that term so I guess I offend my own heritage. He says it portrays the Dutch as cheap… well most of us are cheap! Actually I prefer the term “frugal.” Regarding the etymology of the phrase that is one possible root, and it was from the Anglo-Dutch Wars which I don’t think anybody is still bent out of shape over. Another possibilities is that it from the concept of a Dutch door or is related to Dutch etiquette. Anyway the term is hardly offensive.
I mean after all do you know how copper wire was invented? Two Dutchmen fighting over a penny, but I digress. Then he tackles the phrase “hold down the fort.”
How many times have you or a colleague asked if someone could “hold down the fort?” For example, “Could you hold down the fort while I go to…” You were likely asking someone to watch the office while you go and do something else, but the phrase’s historical connotation to some is negative and racially offensive. To “hold down the fort” originally meant to watch and protect against the vicious Native American intruders. In the territories of the West, Army soldiers or settlers saw the “fort” as their refuge from their perceived “enemy,” the stereotypical “savage” Native American tribes.
Perhaps that is the historical meaning of the phrase. Does anyone mean it that way now? Of course not!
Then he tackles the ever controversial phrase “Rule of Thumb.” Robinson wrote:
This is an acknowledged and generally accepted benchmark. Many women’s rights activists claim this term refers to an antiquated law, whereby the width of a husband’s thumb was the legal size of a switch or rod allowed to beat his wife. If her bruises were not larger than the width of his thumb, the husband could not be brought to court to answer for his behavior because he had not violated the “rule of thumb.”
I know every female I’ve used this term around has been horribly offended. I mean really? Is this what it really means? Um. No. It’s not found anywhere in the legal commentaries of Blackstone. It has never been an English law.
But hey let’s just make up meanings because “this isn’t about their historical validity; instead, it is an opportunity to remember that our choice of wording affects our professional environment.”
Score! I just love that my taxes keeps this guy employed.
Update: Doug Powers writing at MichelleMalkin.com points out that Robinson has his work cut out for him.
“I know you guys have been holding down the fort,” he [Obama] told a roaring crowd of 15,000 at the St. Pete Times Forum, an arena in downtown in Tampa. “It’s good to be back.”
Somebody better send a memo to President Obama.