New Hampshire 'Days Without Official Calling Obama The N-Word' Calendar Set Back To Zero

New Hampshire 'Days Without Official Calling Obama The N-Word' Calendar Set Back To Zero

Well Wonkettenauts, we knew this day would come. We have known it every time some conservative emailed a joke about watermelon patches on the White House lawn, every time some Tea Party nitwit made a sign with a picture of the president dressed as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose. We have felt this certainty not just in our own bones, but in the very marrow contained within. And now the event we have been awaiting for over five years has finally arrived. We can exhale with relief and move on to whatever is next.

A white public official called President Barack Obama a nigger.

Oh sure, it’s not any of the officials we expected. (If you had Virginia Foxx in the pool, better luck next black president, Gary.) And sure, the official in question is not a national figure of any prominence but just the 82-year-old police commissioner of the small town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. But still.

A white public official called President Barack Obama a nigger.

The official in question is named Robert Copeland. He was heard to call President Barack Obama a nigger, in public, in a Wolfeboro restaurant in March. A new resident of the town, Jane O’Toole, overheard him and complained to the town manager. In response, Copeland emailed his fellow police commissioners about the incident, writing

I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse (sic). For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.

Whether Copeland went on to quantify his criteria for calling a black man a nigger, and to elucidate all the ways in which our president meets and exceeds same, was not detailed.

In this hypersensitive day and age, when people have lost their jobs for saying much less (and also for saying much more without using the word nigger) we might expect Commissioner Copeland to lose his job and live out the rest of his days in retirement like most 82-year-old idiots. But the town manager and its board of selectmen do not have the authority to fire Copeland and he is refusing to resign, apparently determined to serve out the three-year term to which he was re-elected just before this unfortunate incident in which he called the President of the United States a nigger.

Copeland’s fellow police commissioners, while not condoning their co-worker calling Barack Obama a nigger, also will not call on him to resign. To their credit, other town officials have done so, and at an angry meeting Thursday night, nearly two dozen townspeople took to the podium to denounce Copeland and demand he step down.

Copeland also has his defenders. Well, two defenders, both of whom spoke at the town meeting in support of Copeland calling Barack Obama a nigger. Resident Frank Bader told the crowd, “All this man did is express his displeasure with the man who’s in office” while Richard Stockton went with the old “Why are people offended by the N-word? It’s used in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” defense. How the use of an anachronistic and degrading term in two books written in the 1870s and set in an era long before the Civil War, when black people were bound in the institution of slavery and use of such language was one of many weapons white people used to dehumanize them, was not explained.

Copeland could still be convinced to step down, we suppose, and then the town of Wolfeboro can move on, secure in the knowledge it has vanquished ignorance. The incident will do nothing to untangle the thorny knot of what Ta-Nehisi Coates recently and memorably called “elegant racism” in American society. That is a larger issue that probably lies well outside the problem-solving skills of 330 million Americans, let alone the 6300 residents of Wolfeboro.

[New Hampshire Union Leader / Boston Globe]


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