Nathan Deal
Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Flickr

Conservative Republicans can be strange. Take their habit of mislabeling their opponents the “Democrat Party.” It means something to them. It doesn’t mean anything to Democrats except that they’ve mispronounced their name. Probably three-quarters of the point is to gain some satisfaction out of being irritating, and the remainder must be some conceit that the actually have some respect for the democratic process.

But, I don’t know, maybe there some’s confusion mixed in, too. Now, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hasn’t changed their name because, I presume, they’d rather keep their connection to history. Thurgood Marshall didn’t argue Brown v. the Board of Education at the Supreme Court on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Black People.

But it’s not controversial that Americans with African heritage do not like to be called “negroes” and they do not like to be called “colored.” Yet, it seems an irresistible temptation for conservatives to use the persistence of the word “colored” in the name “NAACP” as permission to use the word themselves.

The latest example comes from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, a birther who resigned from Congress to avoid sanction from the House Ethics Committee. Speaking to an audience of educators yesterday to promote his plan to deal with struggling public schools, Gov. Deal made the following remark: “The irony of some of the groups who are opposing doing something to help these minority children is beyond my logic. If you want to advance the state of colored people, start with their children.”

Get it? Why is the NAACP opposing his plan if they’re supposed to be about advancing colored people?

Of course, a lot of people didn’t like what he said. Some people found it pretty offensive. So, Deal decided to do the typical walk-back.

The governor later half-apologized to Fox 5 reporter Dale Russel, saying, “I did not mean to insult anyone, but I was upset.”

Maybe he only intended to irritate people. Maybe he’s one of those morons who thinks if some black person somewhere uses the n-word or the NAACP doesn’t abandon “colored” it gives him permission to throw those words in black people’s faces while explaining his motives for screwing them.

The important thing, I think, isn’t any meaning that’s conveyed in the actual words. It just makes conservatives feel good when they insult and denigrate their opponents. It makes the base feel good when they see a politician laying into their enemies. “Heh, heh, he called them ‘colored.’ They hate that.”

Even the half-ass apologies serve their purpose. “Sorry if you’re so sensitive and politically correct that my deliberate effort to offend you actually worked.”

It’s really some kind of stunted and juvenile mentality and set of behaviors. But, this year, it seems to explain almost everything.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at