More PC idiocy: Can a chink ever be just a chink or does it have to be racist?

Last Wednesday, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait tripped a silent alarm with a soul-searching essay titled “The language police are perverting liberalism!” Sighed Chait: “Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate.”

The left side of the blogosphere immediately set to work devouring its own tail. “At Gawker,” writes Charles Cooke at National Review Online:

Alex Pareene lamented repeatedly that Chait was a “white man,” and, among other things, accused him of “operatic self-pity.” In the pages of In These Times, meanwhile, Sady Doyle leveled a charge of “blatant racism” and suggested without embarrassment that Chait’s begrudging call for a less totalitarian political culture represented little more than a cover for his “white male tears.”

All the angst, the gnashing of teeth, was for naught. Political correctness is alive and well and apparently here to stay. The day after Chait’s apologia, the following self-explanatory tweet appeared embedded in a Washington Post column:

The gist of the Post article was that the U.S. Army had written and then deleted the Twitter message shown, which seems like an admission of guilt. But was the Army guilty of anything and is Mr. Nuntavong deserving of an apology?

Let’s do a little investigation of the word chink. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary website, the word — defined as “a weak spot that may leave one vulnerable” — entered the language in 1535 and is probably derived from the Middle English chine, meaning “crack, fissure.”

Further down the page is the another definition of the word, tagged “usually offensive” and meaning simply “Chinese.” The first known use in English of chink as a racial slur was in 1887 — more than 350 years after its more benign definition entered the language.

So is the word racist? And if it is, will someone alert the Associated Press that this dispatch contains an evil word. About halfway down the page, AP author Zeina Karam writes:

“There’s a chink in the armor,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. [Emphasis added]

Then again, perhaps no one need bother. An earlier version of the story shows that the AP headline was changed and that in its original form it contained the term chink:



Will the PC police let us know when heads roll over this offense?

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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