Wednesday, 9 November 2005

An Instance of Desperate Defamation

In the intemperate pages of CounterPunch, (“America’s best political newsletter”, according to Out of Bounds magazine, but “America’s least sane rant-rag”, according to me), Alexander Cockburn makes a strong case for the weakness of his character:

Last year Brockes interviewed the black British poet, Benjamin Zephaniah after he refused an OBE. Towards the end of the piece, Brockes asked Zephaniah about what he was reading:

“I ask him what he is reading at the moment. ‘Chomsky’, he says. ‘I am always reading Chomsky.’

“I tell him I find Chomsky hard work. ‘Really?’ he says. ‘Really? That’s cos you ain’t got a Birmingham accent.’ And he throws back his head and brays like a donkey.”

This is a good illustration of a characteristic of many of these showcase interviews, where the interviewer sneaks in a kidney punch after the interview is over, when she’s safely back in the office. So the readers are left to warm their hands over the rancid and somehow racist snap of “brays like a donkey”.

Alexander Cockburn, “
Storm Over Brockes’ Fakery”, CounterPunch, 5th/6th November 2005.

Quite how “brays like a donkey” is racist is unknown to me, but then perhaps it is unknown to Mr Cockburn, who has to rely on the phrase “somehow racist” just so that he can pin the tail on the donkey, as it were.


dearieme said...

Mr Cockburn (note the name) may consider that donkeys are stupid, bad-tempered and well equipped with wedding tackle. He may therefore have given himself away as a racist?

Blimpish said...

"Chomsky who featured in the poll as top intellectual... wrote back in good humor, ridiculing the idea of such lists and putting forward as candidates his granddaughter in Nicaragua, or his granddaughter's cat."

Oh stop, please stop, I'm splitting my sides.

Gawain Towler said...

Have you ever heard Zephania laugh, I would call that a literalist description.

Akaky said...

Wouldnt donkey be more of an anti-Irish ethnic slur, as opposed to a racist epithet, in which case it would not really apply in this situation, or only apply in the larger sense that all interactions between whites and blacks are inherently racist and therefore an ethnic slur, as we have here, can really be understood, through the processes of textually close reading and deconstruction, be a substitute, or rather, a symbol, if you will, of the larger and more potent racial slur lying hidden in the subconscious subtext of this message...or am I just blowing smoke out of my ass?

Deogolwulf said...

Ah, but such smoke-rings!