The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, February 13, 2005
 

Anachronism of racial tags


Reading Dallek's Kennedy bio [1] I'm brought up short on page 215 by the following:
During an October 1956 Meet the Press interview, when the host asked Jack why African American voters should want to see Democratic congressional majorities...

For all it's reported speech, that African American comes over as Clark Gable answering his cellphone in Gone With The Wind.

The interviewer would have said Negro. (Perhaps colored - but, I'd think, highly unlikely as late as 1956.) Dallek - or his editors - are caught like rabbits in the headlights, and prefer anachronism over the possibility of unleashing the grievance brigade.

The Plawg policy is (so far as possible) to eschew anachronism: for events before around 1970, the word is Negro; for events after, black.

Searching the nightly news (the Vanderbilt archive starts on August 3 1968), one finds that the numbers of shows returned for the years 1973-2004 are in the range 0-7, averaging 2.375 items a year.

The earliest years are strikingly different:

1972.........16
1971.........11
1970.........39
1969.......139
1968.......104

No significance tests needed there, I reckon!

Note that the Vanderbilt search gizmo is shortly to go pay only.

  1. Not so far blowing my skirt up like Caro's Master of the Senate - early days, though.


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