Commentary | Ugh, Sarah Palin. She’s back and, apparently annoyed Donald Trump was able to get the media focused on his giant, ugly head for ten minutes ahead of the election, Palin has gone and used some historically racist terminology in reference to the right’s ginned-up Libya “scandal.”
Sarah Palin employed the term “shuck and jive” to describe President Obama’s Libya response, which may sound cute and folksy to people who have been happily ignoring the dog-whistle racism of the anti-Obama brigade but actually carries some intensely unpleasant racial connotations.
Sarah Palin’s “shuck and jive” comments were in the title of a Facebook note, “Obama’s Shuck And Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies,” in which she also uses the phrase. In it, Palin says:
“Why the lies? Why the cover up? Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.”
“To ‘shuck and jive’ originally referred to the intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive racist Euro-Americans in power, both during the period of slavery and afterwards. The expression was documented as being in wide usage in the 1920s, but may have originated much earlier …”
“‘Shucking and jiving’ was a tactic of both survival and resistance. A slave, for instance, could say eagerly, ‘Oh, yes, Master,’ and have no real intention to obey. Or an African-American man could pretend to be working hard at a task he was ordered to do, but might put up this pretense only when under observation. Both would be instances of ‘doin’ the old shuck ‘n jive.’”
What’s sad about Palin’s casual racism is not that it happened from a former candidate for VP in the United States in 2012. The saddest part is that the same race-based attacks have been made on the President time and again, each time with accusations of oversensitivity to follow from the offenders.
Sarah Palin has yet to respond to criticism of her use of the term “shuck and jive,” but I think we can all agree there is no chance at all she will admit that her choice of wording aimed at a black man, was deliberately meant to “put him in his place.” And that is why this sort of political double-speak is so disgustingly, insidiously cruel, not only to Obama, but to every black American who is exposed to this woman on the national stage.
To allude to slavery in such a way is abominable, akin to any abuser joking about abuse to its victim. And it will only end when people from every part of the political spectrum admit that race-based attacks like Sarah Palin’s “shuck and jive” remarks have no place in our mainstream political sphere.