Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Huckleberry Finn And “Muslim” Jim

by Lee Culpepper - November 4th, 2007 - Townhall.com

The latest politically correct attempt to feign offense over The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which unleashes Mark Twain’s piercing wit and bitter criticism of society) is currently smoldering in North Richland Hills, Texas. Ibrahim Mohamed, a 17-year-old junior at Richland High School, claims that his teacher’s reluctance to replace the hateful word “nigger” on the blackboard with the “N-Word” was “cruel” and demonstrated “bad judgment.” Mohamed was the only black student in his class. He has since been transferred to a different English class with another teacher.

The only really decent character in Twain's book is Jim. It is a great story, told as if by Huck, and moves along with great zest, drawing the reader in and making him care about these two characters, one white and one black, who are working together to accomplish their personal goals.

At the beginning Huck cares little for Jim. By the end of the story, Huck (and the reader) has acquired a respect and concern for Jim that neither Huck (nor the reader) had at the beginning. In the process Mark Twain also creates a completely new definition for the word "nigger". By constantly associating it with "Jim", and changing the reader's view of Jim, Twain changes the connotations of the word forever.

It clearly is Twain's intent. It also was clearly Twain's intent to embarrass those who thought the cultural attitudes of the time were okay. He was successful in that. Walking a fine line, Twain tweaked society's nose and forever changed our culture in the process. He was ridiculing those who used "nigger" as a put down of an entire race. He held Jim up as a proud and decent human being who should be admired. Most readers learned the lesson even if it took some time to sink in.

It is sad that so many today cannot accept Twain's lesson. I believe it is because they reject the premise that whites can reject racism. Too many who glory in victim hood say that whites are racist and cannot change. I wonder if they really think racism cannot end, or if they are determined that racism should not be ended as it serves their purposes to claim it is still a problem?


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