Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is on a nine-day trade mission to China. He was previously in Japan. Here’s what he had to say recently:
I have now spent a day in Beijing. The scale, the energy, the focus of this place is astonishing. I’ve thought of China as a giant, poor third world country (remember those Chinese coolies who built the railroads?) now charging onto the industrial stage for the first time.
Tennessean.com writer Jennifer Peebles asks the following:
Isn’t that word [coolies] considered offensive to people of Asian descent?
Here we go with the “offensive” again.
(And note Bredesen’s use of the term “third world” as well.)
I’m thinking about striking use of the word “offensive,” because it implies that some of us just too easily take offense. Rather, I’m thinking about substituting “used to reinforce white supremacy.” Because here’s Bredesen’s response:
It is hard to see how any person not seeking a reason to be offended or to create a controversy could take offense in the way the word was used; obviously historically, not directed at any individual, and in a paragraph that could not have been more respectful of or complementary to the Chinese people.
I am writing these at the end of long days while others are having a drink and unwinding, and if you find something in the dispatch that you question or doesn’t meet the paper’s PC standards, you are also welcome to just edit it out or throw the whole thing into the trash.
In a previous dispatch, Bredesen talks about speaking with someone in Japan through an interpreter, because the Japanese guy “speaks almost no English.” (As opposed to Bredesen, who undoubtedly speaks fluent Japanese.) In many cases, interpretation is vitally important. For that reason I provide the sample Bredesen dictionary listings below, so that my gentle readers can more easily understand Bredesen’s comments:
“a reason to be offended” = oversensitive
“create a controversy” = making something out of nothing
“historically” = we’ve always done it that way
“not directed at any individual” = so no one person should say jackshit
“could not have been more respectful or complementary [sic] = you don’t get how I meant it
“something that you question” = how dare you question me
“PC standards” = people making things difficult with this PC crap
Using the updated 2007 racismese dictionary, however, yields the following:
“a reason to be offended” = reinforcing white supremacy
“create a controversy” = putting me on the spot for my racism
“historically” = institutional racism has existed for a long time
“not directed at any individual” = racism towards an entire group
“could not have been more respectful or complementary [sic] = I am a patronizing sh*thead who cannot spell
“something that you question” = why do you have to bring this up?
“PC standards” = why should I have to care about other people or about racism
But because using a dictionary does not truly provide the nuance of a skilled translator, here is the paragraph rewritten so it can be understood by the general public:
All these whiners are just trying to stir up trouble for me. Despite my surprise when I finally got out of my American cesspool, I was just trying to be nice to those people. Too bad they’re too stupid to understand.
I am still working at this late hour but I sure wish I had a stiff drink like everybody else because if I did I would tell you that you are a pipsqueak to question me and to expect me to have any sensitivity to others. You can go take a flying f*ck.