I’m not so sure about the language here

But the basic point being made is true:

Korwin-Mikke, whose party has two remaining MEPs and received 7.5% support in Poland during May’s European parliamentary elections, is one of the most outspoken figures within the far-right groupings of parliament.

In July, he declared in English that the minimum wage should be “destroyed” and said that “four million niggers” lost their jobs in the US as a result of President John F Kennedy signing a bill on the minimum wage in 1961. He went on to claim that 20 million young Europeans were being treated as “negroes” as a result of the minimum wage. He refused to apologise and was fined 10 days of allowances for his comments.


The minimum wage
did put a lot of what we now call people of colour out of work. That being one of the reasons why it found support from certain unions: that it would stop the low wage competition from those who were being discriminated against because of their race. This is all found in the work of people like Gary Becker of course. And it’s most certainly true that there are young people today in Europe who are unemployed because there is a minimum wage. Even our own Low Pay Commission, the people who actually set the minimum wage, tell us that this is so.

What the man said is true even if the words he used to say it are needlessly provocative. On the subject of the use of the word nigger: I’m not normally swayed by political correctness over the use of language but am entirely happy with this idea that that’s simply not a polite word to use these days. Even so, the hysteria over it does go a great deal too far: people insisting that it should be removed from Huck Finn for example. Where the whole point of the passage is that Huck knows, knows absolutely because this is what he’s been taught, that if he helps that nigger escaped slave then his soul is damned to Hell for all eternity. And he helps that nigger escaped slave. This is, when properly considered, an entiorely positive use of the word even if we currently declare it to be not a polite word to use.

Another way of making the criticism is that the choice of words means people have something else to complain about rather than the essence of what was being said. That essence being true and worth getting across without giving people that other thing to complain about.

9 comments on “I’m not so sure about the language here

  1. By dropping the N word he gave everyone an excuse to shout “look over there!” and ignore the real point he was making.

  2. But if he hadn’t used the N word, the story would barely have made the regional newspaper in Poland, let alone national media in the UK.

  3. Tim, you’re choosing to regard “the essence of what’s being said” as the point about the minimum wage, rather than the idea that Europeans don’t deserve to be treated like “niggers”.

    At least to me, it seems that essence is the racist point that kicking black people out of work is just fine, but kicking white people out of work is unacceptable.

    Now, we can disagree on which point is fundamental here, but it’s fair enough to take my interpretation rather than yours.

    And neither of us speaks good enough Polish to have any reasonable claim to be certain which one he really meant.

  4. The problem with this sort of controversy is that those who are complaining are clearly implying that it would have been better to say “I’m glad all those African-Americans couldn’t get jobs” than to say “It is terrible that those niggers couldn’t get jobs.” Priorities.

  5. Wasn’t really sure what the point of the Guardian article was – other than “Polish man says something rude” – till I clicked the link.

    Ukip does deal with far-right, racist Holocaust-denier to save EU funding

    Ah. It’s one of those stories.

    Am I a bad man for being all out of fucks to give?

  6. The Guardian endorses a creed that has murdered 200 million people and ruined the lives of millions more. That they dare to take a high moral tone with others is laughable.

  7. > Ukip does deal with far-right, racist Holocaust-denier to save EU funding

    Are The Guardian complaining that EU membership is pushing British politicians into deals with politicians from countries whose political traditions and culture are somewhat incompatible with our own?

  8. Why is it of to describe a “man of cplour” using a word with an English origin, but not one with a Latin origin? Are we against Italians?

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