Cecil's Today's Question (Eskimos in museums)

Well, I admit I’m a noobie, longtime lurker tho, not sure if this is the right board or not, but I just didn’t care for Cecil’s statement in “Today’s Question” and had to register my complaint.

Namely, that The American Museum of Natural History demonstrated that “white people were slime”. I’m sure some white people are “slime,” but sitting here monitoring my 18-month-old white daughter who seems to be an ok person, I just can’t accept such a blanket indictment. Was it supposed to be funny? How can any negative racial generalization be thought funny in 2005?

Linda Cohen

Link to column: Did a New York City museum have Eskimos on display? – CKDH


Ever watch the Chapelle Show?

Negative racial generalizations can be thought funny when they’re not said in a meanspirited fashion, and sometimes when they’re said in a clearly hyperbolic and not literal fashion.

I think Cecil’s white, and I think that if he were confronted with a serious argument along the lines of “White people are blue-eyed devils,” he’d knock that puppy down*. But this statement was an example of dangerous and plain awful racism, and his statement is an expression of disgust, not an expression to be taken literally.


  • Although I admit that cruelty to animals can’t be joked about in 2005.


Oh, and welcome to the straight dope, Linda!


Welcome to the Straight Dope, Linda.

This would fit better in the Comments on Cecil’s Columns forum. I’ll move it over there for you.

Pit mod

Well, Cecil’s an equal-opportunity offender. If you think he was harsh on whites (well, American whites), take this column as antidote.

Yes, but has the Perfect Master ever gotten around to insulting theleft handed anabaptists like he promised?

He left them hanging, the worst insult of all.

No, but I just finished watching him in Undercover Brother and now I need to rent his entire series.

I’d say “especially when they’re said in a clearly hyperbolic and not literal fashion,” but I’m a middle-class, white male and have no undertanding of what it’s like to be oppressed. A tasteless and insensitive one, at that. In fact, one who is so tasteless and insensitive that I don’t care that I’m tasteless and insensitive.

That guin–I mean gentleman*–is even whiter than me.

It can be really, REALLY embarassing to see what slime white folk can be.

Too bad, too. Saw an interview with Salvador Dali in which he claimed the thing that gave him the greatest pleasure was “soofering aneemaals,” and how he enjoyed taping walnuts to the bottom of cats’ feet and letting them loose on linoleum. Good times!

    • Dollars to donuts ya never been called that in real life, Cece! One of those rumors of offenses handed down by your grandpa. Love ya! :wink:

Oh, and Linda? Welcome (finally) aboard! Like some of us, Cecil works at being offensive but, as a longtime lurker, you know we’re really not as bad as we pretend to be. Well, the rest of them. I’m actually restrain myself when online so you don’t find out just how big a jerk I really am. (big, but unrepentant, :smiley: )

It’s nice to have somebody pop out of lurk mode because she wants to complain about one of Cecil’s many trips down Political Incorrectness Lane. I, for one, didn’t lurk a second because somebody said something stupid about The Simpsons. I’m glad not everybody is as shallow as I, but I recommend you stay out of The Pit for a while. :eek:

I fail to find that particular phrase in the column. Unless the on-line version has been changed, I’m not sure what you are actually talking about. In case I am missing something, can you please point out what paragraph the phrase occurs in?

In any case, I fail to see any blanket indictment of white people in the column. The column does discuss institutional racism and insensitivity on the part of AMNH, and stupidity on the part of particular scientists, but doesn’t insult white people in general.

It’s been changed… when I linked to it, the phrase was something like “and then to show that white people were scum…”
Or something of the sort.

But yeah, the powers that be edited it. Now if only I could do that with my posts… :smiley:

It was changed. I remember seeing the “slime” reference there yesterday.

Anybody know it that appeared in the hard-copy versions of the column?

Tangential to this thread: In the 1980’s an American Indian Sioux friend was deeply offended by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in D.C. – behind glass were mounted Buffalo, Tigers, lions etc. Many shot by Teddy Roosevelt himself for the museum.

In another part of the museum, also behind some glass were wax mannequin figured of Indians and Inuit (not real skeletons - I hope). In their natural habitat and in the costumes they might have worn before white “civilization” might have met them. He was really offended by this – saying any display in a Natural History Museum equating them with Wild Animals and Dinosaurs not people - was offensive. Made me a bit more sensitive

I remember it too. Can’t think of a good reason to edit it out.

Dunno who edited the column after it was put on the site – the list is Little Ed or someone at the Reader – but I have asked for clarification.

your humble TubaDiva

Welcome linda! And stay on your toes around this place.

Now you see, I would have taken it as meaning both the animals and peoples were valuable and important to know about.

Dropzone, did Dali tape entire walnuts on the cats’ feet or empty half-shells like little slippers? What? Oh… no, no reason why I need to know… uuuummm, just curious