James Clyburn: What's wrong with the word "negro"?

A sterling example of why that “national conversation on race” Americans are forever being told to have will be postponed indefinitely: We can’t even agree on which terms are offensive. Slate says “negro” has been more or less taboo since 1966, but put it in the mouth of one of Clyburn’s political allies and of course it’s instantly copacetic. That’s good news for liberals of “a certain age,” but if you’re conservative, I’d advise you to stick with Slate’s take on this. Clyburn himself is a practiced hand at ye olde art of racially demagoging Republicans, so if the word should escape your lips or those of the conservative pol you support, you’ll get no support from him, I assure you.

Exit question: Have we now officially reached the “time to reexamine assumptions” point of the Reid scandal? First comes the outrage, then the inevitable “did he really say anything wrong?” phase, and then finally nonsense like this, in which everything you thought you knew for years must be revisited in the name of providing political cover. For instance, I thought it was semi-taboo on the left to discuss how Democratic pols pandered to black audiences by, shall we say, “adjusting” their normal speaking inflections a bit, but here’s a long-ish and interesting blog post today at the Times on that very subject. Progress, I guess. Click the image to watch.

Update: A bit from that Times piece deserves highlighting. Imagine John McCain, say, floating this breezy bit of insight:

“I know if I’m in an all-black audience that there’s going to be a certain rhythm coming back at me from the audience. They’re not just going to be sitting there,” Mr. Obama told me. “That creates a different rhythm in your speaking.”

clyburn-reid