Opinion: Rep. Westmoreland says he was clueless in making ‘uppity’ comment about the Obamas


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Heretofore little-known Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia was born in 1950 in Atlanta and was raised in one of its surrounding communities.

Which means the Republican grew up at a time when the racial divide in the South was stark, a time when Jim Crow laws helped enforce a segregationist credo that limited opportunities for blacks, a time when -- as an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article puts it today -- ‘uppity’ was ‘a word applied to African-Americans who tried to rise above servile positions.’


But to hear Westmoreland tell it, he had no clue he was using a racially tinged word when, as reported by The Hill newspaper, he said in Washington this week: ‘Honestly, I’ve never paid that much attention to Michelle Obama. Just what little I’ve seen of her and Sen. [Barack] Obama, is that they’re a member of an elitist class ... that thinks that they’re uppity.’

The remark, the Journal-Constitution reports, quickly ‘zipped around the Internet, causing Westmoreland’s office phones to ring off the hook.’

That furor, in turn, prompted the two-term congressman to issue the following statement:

I’ve never heard that term used in a racially derogatory sense. It is important to note that the dictionary definition of ‘uppity’ is ‘affecting an air of inflated self-esteem -- snobbish.’ That’s what we meant by uppity when we used it in the mill village where I grew up.

The Ticket finds it amazing that someone with such a sheltered upbringing could achieve such success in life.

-- Don Frederick