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#1845 - 05/06/00 01:44 PM Re: WASP  
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tsuwm Offline
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this too shall pass
>The point of the women's story is that the bank makes the racist assumption that all blacks are poor.

I understand... and my point was that the bank may NOT be making that assumption but may be making a business decision based on others' assumptions. In fact, the bank is in a position to know full well the financial state of the lawyer, but also is under the obligation to maintain the value of its property. Of course, the "bank" may, in reality, be a nest of racists.

And speaking of WASPs, I think Mr. Cook may have been indulging in a bit of revisionist history. WASP was coined in 1957 or thereabouts. Here is something from Richard Brookhiser regarding its history:

There was a book called The Protestant Establishment by a man named E. Digby Baltzell. He's still alive. He's a professor emeritus of sociology at Penn, and I actually interviewed him for this book. I said, "Why did you make up the acronym? Why did you turn White Anglo Saxon Protestant into WASP?" He said, "Well, White Anglo Saxon Protestant wouldn't fit on a chart. Too big to fit on a chart." I think he was pulling my leg because the fact is if the acronym had spelled out crickets or ants or some insect that people kind of like, it wouldn't have caught on. The fact that it spelled out an insect that stings, that doesn't make honey, that's mean-tempered, that's unpredictable, that's why people grabbed it, because it was a hostile term.

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#1846 - 05/06/00 05:12 PM Re: WASP  
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jmh Offline
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To get back to words ...

So I don't need to be rude about WASP's - the word says it for me already - its rather waspish.

A good word to do with class is "aspirational" - everyone is selling lifestyle today. We don't sell the thing itself we sell the image. We used to talk of things being "classy" but I think that is less favoured now that we like to think we are living in a classless society.


#1847 - 05/06/00 05:13 PM Re: WASP  
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jmh Offline
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Of course an "asp" isn't entirely a pleasant creature, so that would have worked too.


#1848 - 05/07/00 12:56 AM Re: WASP  
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Philip Davis Offline
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The point of the women story was that the bank changed it's judgement not before it had received the relevant information (she was from out of town and had been phoning and writing the details to the bank) but only after it had become aware of the irrelevant piece of information of the women racial origin. Up until they met her the bank was happy with her status.
And, of course, jo is right to point out that there is no need for the redundant white, I still contend that this redundance is motivated, possibly sub consciously, by racist thinking.

It has to be said that many words and much language reflect racist thought through many ages. A large number of abusive term used are racist; philistine, vandal, pillock, bugger, tory, hooligan are some of the less obvious. Then there is the way that fairly straight forward early english words have become taboo since the Norman conquest to be replaced by french and latin terms and euphemisms. There are still many sections of the british working people who use a -house rather than a toilet but their, original, germanic, language is frowned upon by many.


#1849 - 05/07/00 01:39 PM Re: WASP  
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tsuwm Offline
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>Of course an "asp" isn't entirely a pleasant creature, so that would have worked too.

At the risk of "obviousizing" (how's that for moving back to the vicinity of the original topic) the Brookhiser quote, I think that Professor Baltzell purposefully chose the "White" in WASP to not only make a waspish acronym, but to add emphasis to the *white part of the equation. (I'm factoring here :) Actually, Baltzell (who died about four years ago) coined the phrase without irony. He described himself as a conservative (but not a rightist) and said that he believed in meritocracy and that the US has become a "classless" (emphasis on the lowercase) society. "I am for leveling upwards instead of leveling downwards. Lincoln said, 'You can be as good as I am.'" Baltzell complained about how today's leaders want everybody to be the same, as mediocre as one another.

I'll only add that I write this nothwithstanding the way in which some use and understand WASP today.

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#1850 - 05/07/00 05:41 PM Re: WASP  
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jmh Offline
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It wasn't entirely a serious comment but thanks for "filling me in".

Margaret Thatcher (our own dear leader) was keen to talk about the "trickle down effect" - as the rich got richer then so would the poor. It also worked for the trickle down effect of the water from the roof of the South Bank Centre in London onto the homeless souls in the cardboard city below - I suppose that's the problem with such expressions. Her successor was keen on a classless society and tried the phrase "back to basics" to make us feel more moral. It took his party back to basics in parliament - he lost most of his cabinet in a torrent of "sleeze" cases as they failed to demonstrate their moral fibre.

Any idea when "sleeze" became such a popular word?


#1851 - 05/07/00 06:21 PM Re: WASP  
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tsuwm Offline
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>It wasn't entirely a serious comment but thanks for "filling me in".

...as my reply wasn't entirely aimed at you, Jo. <g>


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#1852 - 05/07/00 07:09 PM Re: WASP  
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tsuwm Offline
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>Any idea when "sleeze" became such a popular word?

would you believe that the correct spelling is "sleaze", which is itself a backformation from "sleazy"? <g>
I'm guessing that this particular deviant behavior may be driven by the music business; e.g., The Sleeze Brothers, sleeze rock.

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#1853 - 05/07/00 08:25 PM Re: WASP  
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Philip Davis Offline
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That Professor Baltzell choose to use a tautology says a couple of things to me.
1. the term shows an underlying racism in it's constructor. Denying an economic factor in social structure then only leaves gender or racial differences to explain inequality.
2. He had a poor appreciation of language.
Having said that I probably agree that many politicians and almost all bureaucrats encourage people to be mediocre, though for reasons of ease of control rather than any political attempt to produce an equitable society.
Equal is one of those words which I really wish was used with the precision of mathematics. In maths two horizontal lines means equal to, three horizontal lines means identical to. The two symbols may be equal but are not identical.


#1854 - 05/07/00 08:58 PM Re: WASP  
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Philip Davis Offline
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I was just rereading this sub thread and noticed I'd misread tsuwm's second post in this subthread. I see now that you may well be suggesting that the bank was presenting the facts of the situation to the women. That if she moved into the area, because americans are racists, it would devalue the property and they would be financial at risk. As I recall this story the bank did not directly and honestly say this to the women but came up with stories to hid this racist truth.
A hearty cheer to all institutions who are willing to risk some money to do what is right and a deep boo to those that put profit before conscience.

Having said that I absolutely deny as a fact that poor blacks (or whites) trash property. Whilst it is true that some do this is by no means a totality. That unconscious forces lead some people to produce an environment that reflects how they see themselves is a truth missed on many who would greatly reduce this problem if they boosted people esteem by properly valuing and rewarding their contributions to society (but this is a political thread)


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