An Open Letter to the TNDP

Dear TNDP,

Man, it’s a total gyp that you want me to go dutch with you on a lunch with Chip. I mean, clear to Rutherford County? Please. I guess I could probably jerry rig my brother’s car together in order to get there, but what if someone else welshes on their meal? Who’s going to pick up that tab?

Etc. etc. etc.

I know I’m always the killjoy about this nonsense, but, please, in the future, if you want to use a word or phrase that contains a nationality or ethnicity or ethnic slur as an integral part of it, wikipedia that shit beforehand and then just choose something else. Please. I am begging you.



30 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the TNDP

  1. Aunt B., we’ve been having a monthly “Dutch Treat Luncheon” in Memphis for like, forever. Mayor Henry Loeb started them about a hundred years ago. I don’t know what the TNDP’s angle is, but here it’s traditionally been a friendly, non-partisan place for political movers and shakers to get together and chill. I’ve always enjoyed them, even when I’m the only liberal there (which sometimes happens, but not often).

  2. Pingback: Dutch Oven : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  3. Davidson County Dems use the term “dutch treat” for all of their stuff too.

    As a person of minimal dutch heritage (the name comes from Van Brastede), I not only embrace the term “Dutch treat” but encourage our society to go more towards it.

  4. Sean,

    Well played, Sir.

    Aunt B.,

    As always you raise important issues in delightful ways.

    In this case though, I think you are overstating the case.

    One of the major themes of the recent Walt Baker mess is that some comments must be understood within a certain context. The stupidity of Baker’s decision to forward that email was partly tied to his lack of understanding about the context of the ‘joke.’

    By the same standard, do you really believe that anyone hearing the phrase ‘Dutch treat’ conjures up a mental image of a group of fat little burghers fighting over how to divide the check at a tavern in a Peter Bruegel (Elder or Younger) painting. Or that talking about someone ‘welshing’ on a bet causes people to worry that anyone named Glendower cannot be trusted to pay up?

    This sort of language policing only serves to discredit the criticisms of serious examples like Mr. Baker’s.

  5. Yeah, I’d have to go with Sean on this one. Even Wikipedia’ing that shit doesn’t turn up anything offensive (although I did learn that the rest of the world uses some form of “going American” to reference the same thing! Thanks, internet.) Mentioning a nationality doesn’t inherently make something problematic.

  6. Christy, wikipedia says, “The phrase “going Dutch” probably originates from Dutch etiquette. In the Netherlands, it is not unusual to pay separately when going out as a group. When dating in a 1 on 1 situation however, the man will most commonly pay for meals and drinks. English rivalry with The Netherlands especially during the period of the Anglo-Dutch Wars gave rise to several phrases including Dutch that promote certain negative stereotypes. Examples include Dutch courage, Dutch uncle and Dutch wife.”

    As for you, Mark, please. There certainly is a difference between, “Aw, hell no!” and “Oh, come on.” I appreciate that there are reasons why people like to pretend that there’s not and why people like to read angry complaining into what is clearly me being tickled at something stupid.

    But I have to admit, it does get tiring to constantly be like “Oh, ha ha, this is funny and ridiculous” and have folks be all “Oh, you shouldn’t be so angry.”

    I’m a funny gal, so I find that curious.

  7. My point, dear B., was not that there might be any problem with the event, but that, as others have pointed out, it is an entirely harmless term. It’s about as offensive as “Italian meatball.”

  8. How’s this? We don’t have to go through the tediousness of everyone saying “But… but… but…” and I promise not to mention it again. And then when it becomes an issue, y’all can just say, “Oh, yeah, right. B. said something about this way back then.”

  9. “You’d think “going American” would mean to have a third party pay for your bill…”

    Well, that would proably be “going Chinese,” since they’re the third party America presently uses.

  10. Two things:

    1) I side with most of the other commenters.

    2) I just wish you could have fit Bohunk in there somewhere.

  11. B.,

    The Dutch are probably more worried about dodging terrorist attacks for cartoons than they are people using the term “Dutch Treat”…but you officially have dibs on all credit for being First! if this starts some sort of trade/insult war (or tickle fight if Eric Massa gets involved).

  12. “what if someone else welshes on their meal”

    Dear B: Are those your words, or were you quoting someone else? Didn’t you beat me up over on PITW about two months ago about using the word “welsh?” I spoke in ignorance; I apologized; and I learned my lesson.

    Now, what’s up with you?

  13. Oh, god, y’all, please don’t tell me you did not get this. My point was that these sentences sound weird, outdated, and offensive–“Man, it’s a total gyp that you want me to go dutch with you on a lunch with Chip. I mean, clear to Rutherford County? Please. I guess I could probably jerry rig my brother’s car together in order to get there, but what if someone else welshes on their meal?”

    If “gyp” or “welsh” or “jerry rig” sounds harsh to your ear, “dutch” should to.

  14. Sorry B, I’m guilty. I didn’t get it.

    That’s the problem with being ironic in a written medium — it’s harder to convey irony in writing than it is face-to-face and in person. The risk, of course, is your piece may be read by a dummy like me.

    I hate so-called “air quotes” and abbreviations like “LOL,” but in truth, such devices do serve a purpose, just like the intonations we use in oral communication to signify when we’re using irony.

    Mary: I’m fully aware of the origin and pejorative meanings of “gyp” and “jerry rig” and “going dutch.” Having recently, publicly, and painfully been taught the pejorative meaning of “welsh” by the moderator of this board, that one word jumped off the page at me. Still, as I was taught to say long ago, “No excuse, ma’am.”

  15. Well, that would proably be “going Chinese,” since they’re the third party America presently uses.

    Do it the way my company would.

    1) Issue a request for proposals on lunch.

    2) Nominate the low bidder.

    3) Accept the bid, and then outsource your lunch date to a contractor. Because, after all, who wants lunch with the low bidder?

  16. If “gyp” or “welsh” or “jerry rig” sounds harsh to your ear, “dutch” should to.

    I find no problem with any of those. I prefer Jerry-rig to the alternative I heard growing up. Up until now I had absolutely no clue that “welsh” had anything to do with the great and noble people of Wales.
    As for “gyp”, if I were a candidate for office I probably wouldn’t say it for fear of having the hassle of some obscure Gypsie Rights group breathing down my neck…but given the fact that most people who use the word don’t know that it A) has anything to do with gypsies or B) know what the hell a gypsie is…hearing the term isn’t bothersome (to me at least).

  17. Yeah, Sean, there are hardly any gypsies* left anymore, since Hitler killed so many of them. So there’s no point getting bothered when people insult them, using the same slurs that let the Nazis “prove” they were inferior.

    *the singular is “gypsy”, btw

  18. NM,

    Thanks for the history and grammar lesson…but people aren’t using the term “gyp” to insult gypsies. My point is that while the term’s etymology may have a racist past, its use today is almost entirely divorced from the Romani people.

  19. Gypsies call themselves “Roma.” But they’re an ethnicity. You might remember last year the Roma girl that drowned and there was all that outrage because people went on sunbathing while she died?

  20. Sean, I’m not sure a word has ever been entirely divorced from its original meaning, especially if the meaning of the word is to convey that you suck in the same specific way some group of people are said to suck. If it’s just shortened to “you suck,” that last part isn’t lost, it’s just unstated.

    Otherwise the word doesn’t mean anything.

  21. B,

    But a term like “gyp” means to rip-off…maybe it was originally used to say “you are acting like a gypsy,” but if and when its used today, I think its lost that meaning for the most part. But, I don’t know, maybe there is some great prejudice against gypsies in America that I simply haven’t been exposed to.

  22. It’s an ethnicity. It’s used to refer to the people who call themselves Roma or Romani (there are also, within Europe, some national clan or family names). The Roma are a nomadic people who moved out of northwest India in about the 12th century, moving into what is today Iran, then what is today Turkey, then by the 14th century into eastern Europe and then into western Europe. Today some of them have moved to the Americas; this is I think a 20th century development.

    They remained nomadic in these new areas and kept most of their ethnic distinctiveness. They made a living making and mending pots and pans and doing fancy metalwork (it’s thought that they were already smiths when they left India). In the last couple of centuries, they also became known as musicians. Because they were nomadic, they were handy to blame for thefts and kids going missing, and they were reviled as cheats if the repairs they made didn’t hold.

    So: stateless, ethnically distinctive (though not religiously; they became Catholics during the 14th century (IIRC), blamed for specific types of local troubles, refusing to settle down — obviously they became targets of prejudice and persecution. They were the Nazis second greatest ethnic target, and suffered immensely during the Holocaust. (As a result, the government of India now treats them as protected non-citizens and will sometimes intervene with other gov’ts on their behalf.) They still face extreme prejudice in eastern Europe and in Spain: they have been forced to settle in one place, but no one will hire them because “everyone knows” that they are thieves; they often can’t get on public water or sewer service because “everyone knows” that they’re too stupid to use faucets, would only break the pipes, and would rather do their wash in a bucket in the courtyard anyway, those dirty people; etc. So they’re often desperately poor. Then they’re targeted for forced sterilizations and a lot of the other not that unusual measures taken against poor and despised people.

    Anyway, the Roma get called a lot of different things in different European languages: gitanos/gitanes in Romance languages, I don’t know what in most Germanic languages, tsigan or some variant in Slavic languages, gypsies in English. The specific derivation of “gypsy” is that because of their dark skins they were taken to look like what medieval or early modern English people thought Egyptians looked like. (It also distinguishes them from the Travellers, who are ethnically local.) And I just figure that since the term “gyp” is used to denote an old anti-Roma slur, and that slur is still used today as an excuse for devastatingly awful treatment of the Roma, someone who is well intentioned towards them ought not to use it. Especially since a big part of the reason we in this country are so unaware of them is that they were almost all murdered in the name of such slurs.

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