Seattle Seahawks safety Richard Sherman started public debate about being called a thug. “The reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s an accepted way of calling somebody the N-word now,” he said. Baltimore’s Mayor and President Obama are now being similarly criticized for using “the T-word” when describing violent protesters.
Kudos to Baltimore native Kweisi Mfume and other black leaders who have weighed in, telling those “offended because the word has been racialized across America” that they are focused on the wrong thing.
Ask white sports fans to name a famous thug, and you’ll likely get Bill Lambeer or some hockey enforcer who can hardly skate — both about as white as you can get. A criminal thug? Oversized mafia muscle in cheap suits, or the “OddJob” character in James Bond’s “Goldfinger” (think sharp hat), come to mind.
What we saw in Baltimore were people acting like thugs, ruffians, hooligans, vandals, hoodlums, villains and criminals. All are synonymous, all accurately describe the behaviors seen, and none are racist.
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Get over your self-serving linguistic indignation, and let’s work on solving the problem together.