This week, George Zimmerman prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel informed America that "n--ga" isn't racist as long as it ends with an "a" and not an "er."
Defying this rule Friday was Salon culture critic Rich Benjamin who actually asked, "Is Holder the president’s conscience? Or his Inner N--ger?"
At issue for Benjamin - the Demos senior fellow and author of "Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America" - was President Obama's comments about race and the Zimmerman verdict.
He let us know right from the start he wasn't pleased titling his piece "Obama’s safe, overrated and airy speech: The president's remarks gave us context to the episode, but not a single opinion on the issues that brought us here."
Benjamin began, "When people hold their breath for your imminent words, isn’t it exasperating when you open your mouth, but don’t say much?"
But that was just the beginning.
"[T]he president danced around the issues," wrote Benjamin. "And what a dramatic anti-climax, listening to the president refuse to say anything insightful or profound about the acquittal."
By contrast, Benjamin had nothing but praise for Attorney General Eric Holder who "delivered trenchant thoughts on the acquittal, demanding action."
And then came the money paragraphs:
Some of us have an Inner Child. Others have an Inner Nigger. Is Holder the president’s conscience? Or his Inner Nigger?
Is Holder the president’s aggressive internal mind and voice — willing to speak truth to power, but unbothered with appearing like an angry black man?
Now I've intentionally printed the N-word just as Benjamin and Salon did so that readers would be aware that it was presented without the now customary and acceptable censorship.
Apparently Salon is comfortable printing the N-word out, even when associated with the President of the United States.
Then came the predictable response from Obama-lovers all over the country.
Much as conservative author Larry Elder, Emmy Award-winning actor Bill Cosby, and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley were attacked on Twitter this week for speaking inconvenient truths about the Zimmerman verdict, Benjamin was excoriated Friday night on Twitter.
Mediaite published a roundup:
@elonjames Seriously @RichBenjaminUSA. What the fuck dude? Of all the framing around this you would use “Inner Nigger” to make this argument?
@elonjames Whether you thought that Obama’s speech is lacking or not, deliberate link bait like this is cheap and problematic at best.
@AngryBlackLady When I said publish more voices of color, this wasn’t what I had in mind, @Salon.
@AngryBlackLady I can’t. i can’t. RT @tommyxtopher: @AngryBlackLady @Salon @elonjames cue Rush Limbaugh “satire.” Maybe a parody Stevie Wonder album cover?
@elonjames Wow. And @Salon–do you guys not have editors? What editor in their right mind sees “Inner Nigger” and thinks “Publish this ASAP.”
@elonjames Fuck your career. This isnt about how many hits you can get. This is so much bigger than that and muthafuckas out here trying to be popular.
@elonjames Dear White People & Organizations: having negroes make dumbass arguments does not shield you from critique. CC: @Salon
@elonjames At this point @Salon should rename itself “White Liberal Bullshit Weekly.”
@AngryBlackLady And @Salon published that nonsense by @RichBenjaminUSA with Trayvon’s name spelled incorrectly in the photo caption — so that’s delightful.
Some well-known African-American commentators were also displeased:
I don't even know what to say. Why would a progressive site publish a piece re: POTUS' "inner n-word"?— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) July 20, 2013
I need a long walk right now...— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) July 20, 2013
Are you kidding me right now?!— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) July 20, 2013
Salon is having a moment. That moment when you realize you need more black editors... Or at least one...— Joy Reid (@TheReidReport) July 20, 2013
Dear @salon: Would love to know which editor was responsible for approving the Benjamin piece?— Soledad O'Brien (@Soledad_OBrien) July 20, 2013
Has @Salon's site been hacked? That's a serious question...— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) July 20, 2013
As we've seen play out all week, you're not allowed to say anything bad about Obama even if you're black.
These folks surely don't believe in the First Amendment, do they?