I will not link to Richard Cohen’s latest outrage; he boasts a career of them, and the Washington Post‘s opinion section in toto reads like a list of the FBI’s most wanted. What I want to record is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ devotion to explaining what words mean and when cowards use “context” for obfuscatory purposes:
Context can not improve this. “Context” is not a safe word that makes all your other horse-shit statements disappear. And horse-shit is the context in which Richard Cohen has, for all these years, wallowed. It is horse-shit to claim that store owners are right to discriminate against black males. It is horse-shit to claim Trayvon Martin was wearing the uniform of criminals. It is horse-shit to subject your young female co-workers to “a hostile work environment.” It is horse-shit to expend precious newsprint lamenting the days when slovenly old dudes had their pick of 20-year-old women. It is horse-shit to defend a rapist on the run because you like The Pianist. And it is horse-shit for Katharine Weymouth, the Post’s publisher, to praise a column with the kind of factual error that would embarrass a j-school student.
I’ll cite another recent TNC remark: “People with access to knowledge have a moral responsibility to learn how to communicate that knowledge clearly.”