by Sam Worley
Ha ha, no, but that's funny because the president is black. So is the pot. So is the kettle. Black people, throughout history, have tended to be on the receiving end of a lot of nasty language (etc etc), so Rush's concern, though totally insincere, is appreciated. On the other hand, there's former Sarah Palin's Alaska star Sarah Palin's recent criticism of Obama's "shuck and jive shtick" with regard to Libya. This is more troublesome language, as Slate's Katy Waldman, citing the Post's Erik Wemple, explains:
Erik Wemple at the Washington Post helpfully directs us to the etymological origins of the verb shuck: Since 1819, it has meant to husk corn, and more broadly to engage in "the capers associated with husking frolics," such as "fooling" and "deceiving." And who were the ones originally carrying out antics while shucking corn? Those would be black slaves.
Juba to Jive, a dictionary of African-American slang cited by CNN commentator Roland Martin in his own 2008 excavation of the trope, traces shuck and jive back at least to the 1870s. And starting around 1930, jive began doing its own racially-charged double duty—as a verb meaning "to deceive playfully" and a noun describing "New York City African American slang." By the 1920s, the phrase was widely used to denote cagey comportment.
"Palin surely was unaware of all this history," Waldman says, kindly—surely not the first time somebody's forgiven Sarah Palin's ignorance on account of she's ignorant. Palin pretty much threw the book at—uh, the Facebook—in her defense, noting that she'd have said the same thing about Jimmy Carter, and that her daughter is part Yup'ik Eskimo, so . . . Palin also correctly points out that Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, used the phrase himself with reference to Barack Obama, and just a few years ago. Cuomo tried to make up for it, though, by calling Obama a "beautiful symbol."