From the ChicagoTribune.com "Change of Subject" weblog: Davis and Sherman -- still more controversy

You remember this story, right? It was well-circulated last week, and for good reason - Davis' blowup referring to the very concept of atheism as "dangerous" was offensive and then some.

But let me offer a little tip to her target, activist Rob Sherman:

On Monday evening, well into the comment frenzy over the story about the verbal attack that Ill. Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) made on atheist activist Rob Sherman, reader "Tony" made note of a passage from Rob Sherman's Web site where Sherman had written:

Now that Negroes like Representative Monique Davis have political power, it seems that they have no problem at all with discrimination, just as long as it isn't them who are being discriminated against.

I appended a note to the comment saying that the use of the term "Negroes" struck me as out-of-bounds because it gives racial offense and deliberately so. By using it, Sherman forfeited the high ground that he occupied in his tiff with Davis.

I then sent an e-mail to Sherman noting these objections. I've interviewed him scores of times in the past 22 years and never detected even a hint of racism or bigotry, so I regarded his use of a once-standard but now unacceptable word to be the result of a moment of rhetorical clumsiness or tone-deafness that he ought to rethink.

Sherman replied to my note:

["Negroes" is] what the group was called when they were being discriminated against, but now that this same group has political power, discrimination is OK, as long as it's not them that's being discriminated against. That's the reason for the use of the term.
Gee, there's the way to get people on your side - use a term solely meant to be an affront in this day and age to insult not just her, but an entire group of people. Yep, you sure sound like a reasonable, rational person to me! And then you try and explain this shit away?
Also, a controversy developed in the blogosphere regarding my use on this page of the word, "Negro," earlier in the week. I still thought, today, that Negro and Black were completely interchangeable with identical context, just as Caucasian and White, and automobile and car are. (...) I then called one of my many Black friends to confirm the validity of my perspective. I've known Clint Harris for 23 years. (...) Clint told me that the only people, besides me, who still use Negro are racists who are trying to sound polite. Now I know. There was certainly no intent to act like a racist. I was mistaken when I thought that the words were fully interchangeable and have removed that word from this web site.
For those who don't have any bullshit filters or the ability to read long, rambling paragraphs, lemme spell it out plainly: He's obviously not a racist douche. He has black friends. Why, his "lookit what them neeegroz do" statement that indicts all people who do or might label themselves "Black", "African-American", or whatever term a given person wishes to be called isn't racist. And if it comes off that way, it's only because of the word "negro", not because of his sweeping generalization stating that black people all discriminate when given a measure of power.

You hear that sound, Rob? That sound that sounds like this: "BWOOOOOOOOSH-GLUK-GLUK-GLUK-GLUK"? That's the sound of you flushing your support down the shitter.

Hope it felt good, Rob. Hope you feel better about yourself.