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What is it about the word cracker?

I think most people have already seen the video of King Shimmery Shabazz, or whatever his name is, shouting that he hates "crackers." That man has more hate in him than anyone I've ever seen before.

But there's something that has me confused. What is it about the word cracker that's supposed to be offensive and intimidating? I mean, he's calling white people a thin, flaky wafer. Oooh, scary!!

Seriously, though. I must be missing something because I just don't get how calling me a cracker is supposed to upset me. Does he have a particular cracker in mind? A Ritz, maybe? If so, that's not so bad. They're buttery and melt in your mouth. I especially like to eat them with a good cheese ball. Perhaps he means we're all Triscuits? I don't think I'd mind that since they're crunchy and come in some really great flavors like Roasted Garlic and go great with salsa.

Now, I might get upset if Mr. Shabazz called me a saltine because they're really quite dry and bland and stick to the roof of my mouth if they're not accompanied with something else like cheese.

So, I confess that I'm stumped. Can anyone explain to me why being called a cracker is supposed to be so terrible?


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Comments (59)

I resent the heck outta bei... (Below threshold)

I resent the heck outta being called a 'cracker.'

It's inappropriate and inaccurate.

I shall be hence forth addressed as a 'Saltine-American'.

Kim, for what it's worth...... (Below threshold)
Chip:

Kim, for what it's worth...from the Urban Dictionary

cracker

Noun.

Slang word used to refer to those of European ancestry. The word is thought to have either derived from the sound of a whip being cracked by slave owners, or because crackers are generally white in color.

The only time up to a few y... (Below threshold)
Soozer:

The only time up to a few years ago I've ever heard the term was in "Gone With The Wind". The poor whites were called "crackers" and Scarlett absolutely abhorred the term. But she never said why. I assumed it was a Georgia thing. Seldom if ever heard hereabouts in Texas. Enlighten me someone. Please.

I think the way Shabazz ... (Below threshold)
914:

I think the way Shabazz spit's all over the place spewing his hate is what's so offensive.


I think I will label him a Graham cracker or wheat thin.

Wrong, Chip. Your source, ... (Below threshold)
twolaneflash:

Wrong, Chip. Your source, "Urban Dictionary", gives the history-rewritten PC definition the progressives and race-hustlers would have you believe. The word "Cracker" or "Georgia Cracker" is derived from the sound of the whip of the drivers of mule-drawn wagons. The agricultural products of the South, mainly cotton in the day, was transported by wagon trains to the Atlantic coast for shipping abroad - largely to the textile mills of England. These trains passed through populated areas, with the drivers often showing off their skill with their long whips to entertain the crowds, especially the ladies. "Cracker" had nothing to do with slavery or beating humans with whips. Ignoranamus.

Can I be known as a Big Che... (Below threshold)
pcole168:

Can I be known as a Big Cheez-It, Shabazzy?

Limbaugh devoted <a href="h... (Below threshold)

Limbaugh devoted an entire segment of today's show to the whole "cracker" controversy. He actually had a pretty good suggestion:

We are told in our culture that it's okay for members of groups to use derogatory or inflammatory or offensive terms about themselves but that nobody else can. For example, it's okay for rappers and others in the black community to call each other the N-word, but nobody else can. If you do that they'll Imus you. But we are crackers, are we not? ... Therefore we can use the term, right? ... But they can't call us crackers. If they call us crackers it's offensive ...

So ... how about a "cracker crackdown"? We raise high profile holy hell every time a non-white person uses the "c-word". Sounds like fun to me. Heck, we could even boycott Keebler and Nabisco, followed by a high profile lawsuit asking for billions in emotional damages for all white people, kind of like our own tobacco settlement. What better way to illustrate absurdity, than by being equally absurd?

What do you all think?

twolaneflash,as I ... (Below threshold)
Chip:

twolaneflash,

as I said in my comment...."For what it's worth", I did not drag out "Urban Dictionary" as definitive. As for you calling me an ignoramus, I think that was a little uncalled for.

I'm an onion ring.... (Below threshold)

I'm an onion ring.

See if I ever eat at 'crack... (Below threshold)
914:

See if I ever eat at 'cracker barrel' again. I didn't know I was being offended.

I prefer biscuits with my t... (Below threshold)
epador:

I prefer biscuits with my tea. Preferably SHORTBREAD.

You can have crackers at your Tea Party, but I'll only settle for Walker's.

No and I don't mean Johnny.

Biccies and scones if you are from down under.

Colleagues, reflect for a m... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Colleagues, reflect for a moment on the tragic plight of our aspiring race hustlers. They yearn for a derogatory term for Caucasians that will throw us into frenzies of rage, but ... they just can't find one.

They hurl what they consider to be their vilest epithets at us, at most one or two people look up from their newspapers or laptops, roll their eyes, and go back to reading. That's it? No spluttering rage, no threats of violence, no purple faces, just ... mild disinterest.

The least we could do, if we weren't so racist, would be to feign offense just to make race hustlers feel appreciated, relevant, and offensive, rather than ignored, laughed at, and politely patronized.

I asked my son what's the b... (Below threshold)
BluesHarper:

I asked my son what's the big deal about "cracker".

He said it's about cracking the whip.

I'm not saying he's right, but that is what he thinks.

I always thought it was about being white, like a cracker - saltine or whatever.

Being a whip cracker isn't so funny. I'm not going to get bent over it though. I'd rather that we all like each other enough that we can call each other names and still laugh. Of course it doesn't feel good to be called something bad, but that's okay because I plan on calling him something bad later - all in good fun. I think it's more of an attitude thing than anything else.

Because, if you call me sweetheart in the wrong tone of voice, I might take offense.

This cracker wants to defen... (Below threshold)
mpw280:

This cracker wants to defend himself from the outright and open threat to his life by that POS and should assume the right to shoot on sight any New Black Panther Party member that shows up in my neighborhood as their leader has declared war on all whites. I know I shoot better and am probably better armed and I know I won't stop shooting till the NBPP asshole is on the ground as he is a threat to me and mine. How is that for a response?
mpw

I'm with you Kim,whats the ... (Below threshold)
G.:

I'm with you Kim,whats the big deal... but call me a crigger or a wigger...OH HELL NO! :-)

What I want to know is when... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

What I want to know is when they're going to start bleeping out the work "cracker" from movies and t.v. shows like they do to that other word used in (for example like AMC did to Blazing Saddles).

Oh wait, it doesn't work that way does it...

D'oh let me try that again,... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

D'oh let me try that again, sorry:

What I want to know is when they're going to start bleeping out the word "cracker" from movies and t.v. shows like they do to that other word (for example like AMC did to Blazing Saddles).

Oh wait, it doesn't work that way does it...

Man, crigger IS a real slan... (Below threshold)
G.:

Man, crigger IS a real slang word..had no idea. But according to a racist definition it fits Barack.

"Cracker"?? I was just gett... (Below threshold)

"Cracker"?? I was just getting used to "Honkie"!

"I must be missing somethin... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"I must be missing something because I just don't get how calling me a cracker is supposed to upset me. "

You're missing the victim attitude. Once you have that in mind then everything becomes a racial slight. Firecracker, clearly a reference to burning white people alive. Wisecrack is obviously a contraction of wisecracker which is clearly meant as a slur on the intelligence of white people.

You see? It's easy to be racially offended once you throw out common sense and eliminate a rational thought process. How else to explain the NAACP?

Kim, you're absolutely righ... (Below threshold)

Kim, you're absolutely right. There really is no insult for white people, that even comes close to the the hateful words for black people.

Why is that? That sure is an interesting question, isn't it? I don't really know the answer either, to be honest with you.

"There really is no insult ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"There really is no insult for white people."

For an 'insult' to take place, the person 'insulted' 1s has to take offense.

What pisses Shibaz off is that he's got nothing.
But then, that's the subtotal of his life. Just goes to show where hate gets you.

Shitbaz = Zero

At least Cinque promoted himself to "General Field Marshall".

"There really is no insult ... (Below threshold)
BlueNight:

"There really is no insult for white people, that even comes close to the the hateful words for black people." Being called a redneck or hick gets on my nerves, especially since I've lived in a city all my life, and grew up next to a university.

Sure, it can get on your ne... (Below threshold)

Sure, it can get on your nerves. I'm just saying, it has nowhere near the offensive power of the n-word. Or even the offensive word for Chinese that rhymes with "sink".

Black racists never made an... (Below threshold)
rich K:

Black racists never made any progress invoking ridicule on whites. Thats why anger,hostility and inducing guilt became their stock in trade.
Show Me the Money!

It's all so mature in polit... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

It's all so mature in politics and race-baiting nowadays. Think I'll regress to my old stand-by and start referring to the bad guys as "doody heads".

twolaneflash - "Ignor... (Below threshold)
Marc:

twolaneflash - "Ignoranamus."

"Nice" closing salutaion. For a not so inclusive nitwit.

The term "cracker" has been... (Below threshold)
ridgerunner:

The term "cracker" has been in use since the Revolution. It was used by the British and the Charleston elite to refer to Piedmont settlers of Scots-Irish descent. The origin may go all the way back to Scotland, where in the 18th century "cracker" meant a "boastful person." The origin has nothing to do with slavery.

Let's see. Whites are "crac... (Below threshold)

Let's see. Whites are "crackers."

Blacks who act white are "Oreos."

Mexicans are "beaners."

No wonder America has an obesity problem... we really are obsessed with food.

I'd continue, but it's time for breakfast.

J.

How about "Whippersnapper"<... (Below threshold)
Edward A. Schuster:

How about "Whippersnapper"

Jebus...... Am I the only o... (Below threshold)
donabernathy:

Jebus...... Am I the only one that see's, with the way Barry and pals is ruining the economy, We is all Toast.

roflmao

If someone calls me an Ofay... (Below threshold)
Overly sensitive 1930s man:

If someone calls me an Ofay White Devil again I'm going cry.

He needs to learn how the w... (Below threshold)
rileyb:

He needs to learn how the word cracker came about and what it described. Florida cattlemen used big bullwhips and were extremely proud of how loud those whips could/can be snapped. This created a loud "cracking" noise and thus, the people that did this came to be described as Crackers. A cracker, in other words, except to brain deads,
is not derogatory to anyone but the creature misusing the word.

Originally "Georgia cracker... (Below threshold)
mojo:

Originally "Georgia cracker", I believe. Goes alonng with "good ol' boys from LSU" and the like.

FWIW: I never understood "honkey", it's just dumb.

According to Kim's logic, b... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

According to Kim's logic, blacks shouldn't be offended by being called a nigger since the original meaning of the word simply meant someone from Niger.

Taking one meaning of a word that is clearly is not what the speaker meant is silly. A black calling a white "cracker" is clearly not the same as calling the white person a thin wafer, cattleman or mule team driver. Pretending otherwise is asinine.

There really is... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

There really is no insult for white people, that even comes close to the the hateful words for black people.

I'm just saying, it has nowhere near the offensive power of the n-word.

You're half right. There are lots of hateful words (i.e., words intended to convey hatred) for white people. You're incorrect on that score.

But you're correct in saying that none has any offensive power. The reason does not lie with the words, but rather with our reaction to them. We do not give them any power. We laugh them off. Which is what blacks should do too, to defang the words. By reacting strongly to them they give others power over them.

According to Kim's logic, blacks shouldn't be offended by being called a nigger since the original meaning of the word simply meant someone from Niger.

Close. Recast your sentence out of the passive voice. You imply that blacks are offended by the word, that they have no choice in the matter, it's like gagging on a spoon. Yet they call each other "nigger" all the time, so it's not the word, it's the context, and the conscious decision on whether or not to take offense in any given situation. Would the epithet have any power if blacks insisted on being referred to as "niggers?" Poof! Epithet gone. I'm old enough to remember when references to Africa in connection with blacks were considered grossly impolite. Now? Everything is African this, that, or the other. So it can be done.

Obama is "half-cracker"... (Below threshold)
Neo:

Obama is "half-cracker"

How come I never hear raceb... (Below threshold)
914:

How come I never hear racebaiter $harpton or Rev hustler Jack$on using such flattering derogatory term's as 'cracker'? Or 'Honkie'?


Because I never listen to them that's why.

Jay I agree that it is not ... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Jay I agree that it is not always what a word definition or origination is that makes it offensive but how it is deliver and\or additional implied meanings place upon it by the speaker. A person can state "he is from Harvard" and make it sound offensive. He can say it in such a way to make the person sound like a snob, elitist, etc.

Many have done this to many words and phrases including Rednecks, being from the Country\big city, etc. I also agree that much of the power of words is given to it by the listeners. However that doesn't negate the fact of the intent by the user to use them in an offensive manner.

The use of cracker, Redneck, hick, and nigger are often use in hateful and angry speech. Just because "some" do not allow themselves to be greatly offended when they are used in a hateful way, does not mean that those words being used in such matter is right and should not be denounce.

Racist hate speech should be denounced regardless of it being done by whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc.

I have never been, and prob... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

I have never been, and probably never will be, offended if anyone maliciously called me "cracker" or "honkey." Those words have absolutely no power. I have been called a "white motherf----r" before by black teenagers, and that DID make me angry. But "cracker?" Pass the cheese.

I usually laugh when "honkey" is used during one of my favorite James Bond films, Live and let Die, Roger Moore's first turn as 007. Mr. Big says of Bond, "Take this honkey out and waste him." Somehow, the British Roger Moore just doesn't strike me as a "honkey."

The use of crac... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

The use of cracker, Redneck, hick, and nigger are often use in hateful and angry speech. Just because "some" do not allow themselves to be greatly offended when they are used in a hateful way, does not mean that those words being used in such matter is right and should not be denounce.

Racist hate speech should be denounced regardless of it being done by whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc.

I understand your point, and semi-agree with it. But consider the point of denouncing such speech - to eradicate it, right? But it doesn't. To the contrary, it gives the speech power. My approach deflates the power of the words. That's the way to eradicate it: by making it pointless.

Consider a less emotive issue, say, baldness. It's no fun to crack wise about baldness to a guy who's OK with it. Doing so is a waste of time, because the guy just laughs it off. Now if a guy's going (or has gone) bald, and is acutely sensitive about it... that's when it's worthwhile telling bald jokes, to get the reaction.

That's my point. No response to something = no point in saying it.

From now on I'm referring t... (Below threshold)
914:

From now on I'm referring to every john I know as 'cracker jack'.

JayI think we are so... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Jay
I think we are somewhere near being on the same page with this. Your bald example is good. However if someone continues making bald jokes every couple minutes, it gets tiring. I have seen this happen with different groups including black and white groups (softball teams, families, countries, etc) get together. People from both groups will tell jokes about both groups to signify that everyone is past that but sometime someone will go on and on with the jokes. Sometimes out of insecurity and sometimes out of malice. Regardless there is a point where it becomes inappropriate.

Wayne, we are indeed on ess... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Wayne, we are indeed on essentially the same page.

Someone running the jokes into the ground does indeed become tiresome, but the person who looks bad is the guy telling the jokes. Eventually someone takes him aside and tells him to put a lid on it.

No drama, and problem solved.

The one I had heard was tha... (Below threshold)
Ryan:

The one I had heard was that it had to do with cracking corn.

You're absolutely right, Ki... (Below threshold)
Remarkulus:

You're absolutely right, Kim. That's why it is so funny when whites pretend to be offended by the term.

Jay Guevara, you almost got... (Below threshold)
Remarkulus:

Jay Guevara, you almost got it right but the reason whites can only feign offense at derogatory words directed to them by other races, particularly blacks, is not because whites do not give the words power. It's because whites have historically never been in a subordinate position to blacks in this country. The n-word is not powerful and offensive because blacks won't let go of the term, it is because 150 years later they remain socially, economically, and politically subordinate to whites. In the backs of most Americans' minds- and the front of many- blacks will always be linked to slavery. In other words, the power of the words are directly tied to the power behind the speaker.


"Uppity" is no longer overtly used to describe a black man who dares push his way into the white power structure. "Arrogant" has replaced it. They mean the same thing. And you can bet your bottom dollar that when a successful black man is called arrogant, whites and blacks know what is being said.

"I think most people have a... (Below threshold)
demvoter:

"I think most people have already seen the video"

Well you'd be wrong. Most people have no idea who this moron or the New Black Panthers are. They are a tiny racist fringe group who have no standing anywhere except FOX News. Members of the NBP have appeared on FOX almost 70 times but virtually nowhere else in the media.
FOX could try to get any number of real leaders from the African American community to come on but instead promote these nobodies in order to gin up racial animosity.


RE: post #7, I'm wit... (Below threshold)
John:

RE: post #7,
I'm with you Michael I think us Crackers should take offense at the use of the term cracker by anyone other than whites. I would take it one step further, as soon as it becomes politically incorrect to use the term and another term is subsituted designed to be non offensive I think we should take offense at that term too. It's a never ending game of "you can say that because it offends me"

If you think racism is dead... (Below threshold)
Ron Cantrell:

If you think racism is dead, just read these comments.

Kim -- Could've saved yours... (Below threshold)
beejeez:

Kim -- Could've saved yourself a lot of words by just saying: "Nyah, nyah, stupid coloreds! Can't even think of a slur that hurts!"

Jay Guevara, yo... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Jay Guevara, you almost got it right but the reason whites can only feign offense at derogatory words directed to them by other races, particularly blacks, is not because whites do not give the words power. It's because whites have historically never been in a subordinate position to blacks in this country.

Been out of the country for a while? You might want to peruse the news reports from Nov. 2008.

No, the reason whites do not take offense at derogatory words is that they are not insecure, and thus do not give the words power. I've lived in Hawaii (even went to Punahou - small world, eh, Barry?) where whites are in a distinct minority and "haole" is a term used to disparage whites, much as "nigger" is to blacks on the mainland. Yet whites never get upset about it. We laughed it off. So spare us the Marxist oppressor/oppressed analysis. It doesn't wash.

It's the very same situation with the bald jokes I mentioned upthread. Some guys are extremely sensitive about going bald, others are not. It's not that the latter have never been in a subordinate position to the hirsute. It's that they are comfortable in and of themselves, whereas the former are not.

reason does not li... (Below threshold)
reason does not lie with the words, but rather with our reaction to them. We do not give them any power. We laugh them off. Which is what blacks should do too, to defang the words. By reacting strongly to them they give others power over them.

I think you're dodging the point. "Cracker" isn't as hurtful as "n***er" because "Cracker" doesn't carry with it the same history - whereas n***ger implies a group of people *should be* bought, sold, treated and killed like animals

It's quite easy to say what others should and shouldn't be offended by. But I don't think that suits reality. People get offended by offensive things because they're intended to hurt them.

So I can sit here and say that Jane's mother shouldn't be insulted when I call her a c**ksucking b**ch. But is she *wrong* to be offended? After all, it's just words right?

Re # 51 Ron, so the ... (Below threshold)
John:

Re # 51
Ron, so the comments here are racist? Really how so, all I see is people commenting on words that are being tossed around. Do you think that the idiot from the NBPP thinks that Cracker is term of endearment or do you suppose he intends to offend?

Before the Braves moved the... (Below threshold)
Davis:

Before the Braves moved there, Atlanta's minor league team was called the Crackers. It was originally a Georgia, north Florida term.

Hm, gee, let's think about ... (Below threshold)
Fred:

Hm, gee, let's think about this for ten seconds.

The N-word is associated with: lynchings, attack dogs, fire hoses, Jim Crow laws, miscegnation laws, and institutionalized racism. There is a LOT to be offended about there. To suggest that the N-word and historical racism aimed at blacks in America is something people should "get over," or that it is a "victim mentality" that carries on the memories of such things is asinine and, frankly, stupid.

Look, if your great-grandfather had been hanged from a tree while being called the N-word - by white people - don't you think you and your family would have a particular emotional connection to the word? If I came to your house and said, "I think it's funny your great-grandfather was murdered by a mob," would you have no less of an offended reaction?

As to why "cracker" has no power over white people? Well, think for ten seconds - has anyone in your family been hanged from a tree by a black mob? Has anyone in your family been enslaved by a black person? Has anyone in your family been sicced by attack dogs owned by 100% black police departments? Have black firemen from blacks-only fire departments turned fire hoses on you?

What's that? No? Never? Not your grandfather or great-grandfather?

Didn't think so.

Seriously, is history so hard for you? You people tell black people to "get over" slavery, "get over" the victim mentality - it was a hundred years ago! White people have NEVER in all of American history gone through the terror that black people, historically, have - bear in mind the first terrorist organization in America - perhaps the world - was the KKK. An all-white, anti-black terror organization.

So, when you tell a young person, "YOU were never enslaved. Stop being a victim!" - you're being insensitive to the fact that their grandparents marched with MLK Jr. and were attacked by police and had fire hoses turned on them. Their great-grandparents were hanged from trees in the South in the thirties. Their great-great-grandfathers toiled as slaves in the cotton fields.

Seriously - think for ten seconds how you would feel if I insulted your grandfather - or your great-grandfather - and then, GET OVER IT! It was a hundred years ago!

Just because someone is young and didn't personally experience the intense racism of the past two hundred years, it doesn't mean that memory hasn't been passed down to them. Seriously, how clueless can you people be? How inhuman of you to lack basic human sympathy.

tl;dr version:The ... (Below threshold)
Fred:

tl;dr version:

The word "cracker" has no power over white people because it has no historical background to it; nothing whatsoever in white people's history compares to the racism and hatred we've poured onto black people for the past two hundred years. We have literally nothing to complain about in the race-chasing department. "Oh, my grandfather was Irish." STFU. He wasn't lynched.

This isn't hard to grasp, people.

Seriously, I cannot get ove... (Below threshold)
Fred:

Seriously, I cannot get over how stupid this article is.

People: L-Y-N-C-H-I-N-G.

White people used to just hang black people from trees for fun. Do you not understand this? The N-word is associated with terror, mob violence and fire hoses - police officers who can arrest you for anything they feel like.

The word cracker? It's associated with.............................

What in white people's history even begins to compare with L-Y-N-C-H-I-N-G?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Seriously, just think for ten seconds - an angry mob comes into your house, ties you up and hangs you from a tree until dead - and you want young people, who inherit that memory, and inherit that terror, to just GET OVER it?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

You are all sick, diseased, ignorant people. All of you.

Bluenight: you grew up NEX... (Below threshold)
The Fool:

Bluenight: you grew up NEXT to a university? Well shucks and go-oolleeee! You're obviously too smart to be a cracker then!




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