A Thug by Any Other Name…
© April 30, 2015, All Rights Reserved.
For the record, I am absolutely astounded by the number of people appearing on television and in the media that claim the use of the word “thug” to describe the rioting criminals in Baltimore remains somehow racist in nature. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “thug” rests defined as “a violent criminal”. For my trusted, new revised edition of 1966’s The Grosset Webster Dictionary, the word is defined as “A hired killer; a gangster; a tough”. And for the uninitiated, the term descends from the Thuggees – the notorious Indian band of mass murderers that killed over two million innocent souls. It is, by all accounts, an infamous term.
That said, I do not believe that we should be charged with racism for simply employing the term within the modern vernacular. India’s banning of the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, for instance, did not dismiss the group’s reality. Nor would the rational mind consider that “Thug” remains exclusive to one particular race. After all, people – including your humble writer here – have used the term “assassin” to discuss professional killers without exclusivity towards the Middle East, from whence history’s Assassins hailed.
Most people alive today – including a great many liberal academics – would assume the colloquial use of the term “thug” to be intended as an individual engaged within violent criminality. Contrast this with the vastly more offensive term “nigger”, which descends from the Latin word for black (which explains why the black Labrador retriever within the 1955 World War II film, The Dam Busters (starring Michael Redgrave), was named Nigger). To call anyone nigger today means that you are labeling him or her as “black”. There is no way to avoid this issue even if the term had not denoted a derogatory word today. Anyone employing the term is singling out people based upon the color of their skin. For the same reason, one may refer to me as a “Polak” but the term would not affect one of Italian or Japanese ancestry. Therefore, derogatory slur or not, the use of Polak singles out people of Polish heritage exclusive of all other individuals. One cannot effectively “act like a Polak” anymore than one can truly “act like a nigger”. To do so simply illuminates the ignorance – and bigotry – of the slanderer.