Apparently someone has declared that the word “spooky” is a racial epithet when used either to refer to a black person, or when used in the presence of black people. So “spooky good deals” and “spook-tacular savings” are out, among other things.
Oh for flip’s sake… It comes from a WWII joke told by the Tuskegee Airmen, and the title of a novel about an African-American secret agent, or “spook.” Because apparently no one ever made jokes based on German terms for their warfare styles and military units.
A student asked me if I know why the word was now verboten, or at least “problematic.” I had zero clue, because spook and spooky come from the Dutch and German Spuk and Gespenst, meaning a ghost. The meaning probably goes back to Proto-Indo-European, so it is a common idea and sense for the word. Something that is spooky is ghostly. You know, like what an AC-130 gun ship leaves behind after it comes to visit the bad guys’ neighborhood. So I went to the local source and learned that it came from NPR.
*Waits for groans and mutters to fade*
So it comes from a two year old story. And supposedly started when the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of black fighter pilots, called themselves the “Spookwaffe,” as a play on Luftwaffe. Just like the British called the pause between the fall of Poland and the invasion of France “the Sitzkrieg,” as compared to the Blitzkrieg. The oral-history version is below.
And then there was a novel. From NPR: “But that wasn’t the end of the story for spook. The word had a bit of a renaissance in the 1970s, with the release of the novel and classic film, The Spook Who Sat By The Door, by Sam Greenlee.
Both the book and movie tell the fictional story of the first black man recruited and trained by the CIA. That man goes through his training, works for a little while, and then quits his job and moves back to Chicago, where he secretly trains a group of young black “freedom fighters.”
So spook = black person = racist.
Apparently someone in a state academic organization saw the NPR article, got worried that someone else who had seen the article would accuse students who used “spooky” of racism, and announced that the word was Not To Be Used.
Now, THAT is spooky! Fair Use under Creative Commons. From: https://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2012/10/there-was-ac-130-gunship-over-benghazi.html