Wednesday, April 30, 2008

John McCain: Wright's Wrongs - Words, No Biggie; Deeds,Might Be Getting Scrutiny

The great John Kass of the Chicago Tribune voices concern over Rev. Jeremiah Wright's mockery of everyone 'different' from him - and that includes the young man that he brought to Jesus.

Wright is doing 'the dozens' on America. As I did in my recent post on the chic Stanley Fish - salon buddy of Bomber Billy Ayers, may I offer some context:

Here's 'The Dozens:'

The dozens is a game, especially common among urban blacks, of exchanging insults usually about the mother of the opponent. Skilled playing of the dozens displays verbal improvisation of great originality and wittiness. It also requires a thick skin: you lose the contest if you get upset. The game is often in a stylized, rhythmic form, and the dozens are considered one of the precursors of rap music. Some excellent examples of the dozens can be seen in the movie White Men Can't Jump.

The term dozens is usually used in such phrases as "to play the dozens" or "to do the dozens"; the form dirty dozens is also common. The word dates at least to the 1910s, but the game was probably played considerably earlier. There are examples of this type of game in several other cultures; in sixteenth-century Scotland, a flyting was a battle between poets who exchanged abusive poems; and in the late ninteenth century, American cowboys engaged in "cussing contests," where a saddle would be awarded to the most abusive participant.

The origin of the term is unknown. Some conjectures include: it refers to a throw of 12 in craps, 12 being a difficult number to match; the original form had twelve verses, each one referring to a different sex act; and that inferior slaves were sold in lots of twelve, the number twelve therefore coming to mean 'wretched; inferior' itself. None of these hypotheses has any solid proof, and the origin is likely to remain a mystery.

Some other terms for this type of stylized insulting are capping, jiving, joaning (or joning), sounding, snapping, and signifying.

John Kass illustrates Wrights casting the dozens at the NAACP address that got the ball rolling over Obama.

"If you got some white friends, they'll be clapping like dis, y'all," sang Wright, mimicking bad white clappers, loudly and to much applause, on tape, at the NAACP dinner Sunday night.

At first, I thought it was from HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," in which white people are often ridiculed for bad dancing or pathetic sexual prowess or lack of accomplishment in athletic contests.

But on the wall behind Wright was the NAACP logo, so it wasn't a comedy show. It was a serious event. Amen, reverend.

White folks are a scream! We are a race of fat goofy, greedy bankers, roped off in the lobby of Washington Mutual and Garlic Nosed Legionaries of the 3rd Marines nailing down Jesus, but can't dance. Gene Kelly, my Aunt Fanny!

Accompanied with a cadre of angry black preachers and their bodyguards, Wright played to his core constituency with deep and abiding anger. His anger extends to Barack Obama, it seems to me, and indicated that Rev. Wright might not welcome his notoriety, nor especially the millions of eyes now cast upon his operations as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ on 95th Street.

Wright detestation of America seems genuine enough given the strident game of 'the dozens' he is currently playing.

Play is a two way street. Journalists, other than Bill Moyers, and government agencies just might be taking a careful look at Pastor Wright's ministry. Given the fact that Trinity received millions of dollars from the government that Wright so hates, the game of 'the dozens' might have a genuine smack of Old Timey Irony. Those Faith Based Initiatives are written in stone, concrete, wrought iron and hard dollars.

Click my post title for John Kass.

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