Steve King, our favorite Republican Congressman from rural Western Iowa, has thrown another wild pitch. That's right, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives King referred to Barack Obama as "very, very urban."
This has cause considerable consternation from some who think the U word may be some new type of coded racial slur:
Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post noted that "King emphasized the word 'urban,' drawing the first syllable out."
Hillary Busis at Mediaite.com hints "we all know what he means by 'urban.'"
MinistryofTruth at DailyKos.com labels this an "obviously racially charged tirade" under the headline "Rep. Steve King invents new way to say N-BOMB on House floor."
Oliver Willis says, "They just want to use the 'N' word so badly."
Is Urban the new U word? You can judge for yourself:
Steve King was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN and had this to say on the U word controversy:
"It is not something that would ever occur to anybody in my background that that would be something that could be some kind of a racial pejorative. It’s just simply, he comes from the city, that’s urban. You come from the country, you’re rural."
My take: Steve King doesn't talk in code, he says what is on his mind. And when you come from the country, calling someone urban is a putdown. It's just not a racist putdown.
The context here is a class action suit claiming discrimination against black farmers by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. King's complaint is that a lot of the claims were fraudlent but black activists and legislators pushed for them to be paid anyway. He further suggested that this was done as form of reparations for slavery with accustations of discrimation by the USDA just a pretext in many of the cases:
"We've got to stand up at some point and say, 'We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.' That war's been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there's no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one's filing that claim."
Steve King is making a charge of reverse racism. He's suggesting that because then Senator Obama was an urban dweller from the city of Chicago he had no natural legislative interest in black farmers or black persons claiming to be harmed by discriminatory farm policies, except that the claimants were black.
This is a repeat of a charge Steve King made last June, that President Obama "has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race, on the side that favors the black person."
My take: The evidence that President Obama is a racist is a little thin. At the same time, it would not shock me that black farmers who were never actually farmers got undeserved monetary settlements. Steve King might have done better to present the evidence for that.
When you call someone a racist on such thin evidence, you risk getting called a racist yourself in return. But that's something those who are quick to jump on Steve King should consider too.
U are the racist, no U are, and U know who U are.