Well, So much for all those Halloween Ads…

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*

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/10/24/559502238/this-halloween-what-does-it-mean-to-call-something-spooky

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.

https://oac.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb3779n9gv;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=div00046&toc.depth=1&toc.id=div00045&brand=oac4

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.

An AC-130H Gunship aircraft from the 16th Special Operations Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., released jettisons flares as an infrared countermeasure during multi-gunship formation egress training Aug. 24, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter) (Released)

Now, THAT is spooky! Fair Use under Creative Commons. From: https://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2012/10/there-was-ac-130-gunship-over-benghazi.html

18 thoughts on “Well, So much for all those Halloween Ads…

  1. After spending 8 years being denounced as a racist for opposing a red-diaper baby’s attempt to undermine our country…
    I’m out of f***s to give.

    I’ll use what words I please.
    And anyone who doesn’t like it can ____ themselves with a ____ until they ____, then die of ____.

      • That aligns oddly well with conversations I’ve seen elsewhere, that connect the Progs to the Chaos Gods of Warhammer 40k, and several ‘Heresy!’ memes where Slaanesh demons are doing exactly that. (With chainswords.)

        For those not familiar with Warhammer: it’s hopeless horror. The good guys are genocidal psychopaths, the bad guys are much, much worse.

        • Hey! The Imperium/Tau/Necrons are reasonable sorts with sound ideas on foreign policy.

  2. Wasn’t it about two years ago some political twit was claiming to be a sekret skwerel and called himself a “spook”? (It’s a standard term for the intel guys– from OUTSIDE, ie, “go drop this stuff off with the spooks.”)

    Ridiculous. I’m not letting some idiot bullies throw their non-existent weight around because they found out that, gasp, even BLACK GUYS who were MILITARY had a SENSE OF HUMOR in WORLD WAR TWO!!!!!

  3. Hmm. Let’s remind them that a PROGRESSIVE president screened =Birth of a Nation= at the White House, and locked Blacks out of the federal civil service. Oh, he was a Democrat too. Both those are code words for RAAAAAACIIIIST!

  4. This sort of thing gets my contrarian back up.

    “Oh no, we should feel super guilty and frightened for using innocent words, out of concern for hurting feelings.”

    How much more might those feelings be hurt by a call for an anti-Black pogrom?

    Calls for Anti-Black pogroms are precisely a sort of speech that we should not be discouraging people from voicing openly, because they are important clues to the building of consensus towards carrying out pogroms. You force those calls into hiding, and you can see the emergence of consensus without forewarning. This argument holds if the status quo is not a consensus on anti-Black pogroms. If the white consensus is on Anti-Black pogroms, then speech control could be understood as a way of inhibiting the ‘monkey noises’ of ordinary people nerving themselves up for violence.

    A black audience might find it credible that there is a white consensus on Anti-Black pogroms. After all, Jim Crow was fundamentally a betrayal, violating the same trusts on which the arguments that ‘ most whites do not want to kill all blacks’ must rest.

    And most whites know how little interest they have in pogroms, and have the choice of modeling the behavior of other whites by projection or by meekly accepting the claims of the left.

    I see a dilemma of all this PC bullshit radicalizing whites who previously did not care about race, and the difficultly of addressing a credible argument that ‘maybe this speech control behavior is abusive’ towards those blacks who are not using it as a weapon for personal gain. I have no answers for this dilemma.

    The true answer is probably that I ask myself the wrong question. a) I should treat every individual as an individual. b) I don’t need theoretically simple answers to complex problems of a lot of people.

  5. Hang on…. the TUSKEGEE AIRMEN claimed it for THEMSELVES. You know what? I choose to honor their choice and memory and use the word spook to mean spook – in the spooky spirited sense.

    ALSO: NPR is the radio version of PBS – People Being Stupid.

  6. I remember talking to former sub sailors who served in the sixties and seventies talking about “spooks” or “spook stuff” on secret squirrel missions. Usually a cryptic comment like “We were somewhere that doesn’t exist and the spooks were really happy.” So long before a novel I never heard of was published, the term spook was slang for spies and spy stuff in the military, probably as a reference to their sometimes ghostlike presence (or absence). Yes I am also aware that in some contexts “Spook” is a racial slur but context matters, especially in english.

  7. Sigh… Spooks has been the term for the intel weenies since time immemorial… PBS/NPR et al can go pound sand in a rat hole. They DO NOT control what I say.

  8. OMG! And to think more than one character in the Applied Topology series refers to the CIA liaison as a “spook.” Quick, I must cleanse A Pocketful of Stars and its sequels of this horrible language which I swear I did not know was racist… umm, just as soon as I finish the current book, pick up every single thing off the workroom floor, clean the bathroom tile grout, schedule a pedicure…

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