By Erik Wemple
Like many conservative pundits, Sarah Palin is criticizing President Obama for his administration’s inconsistent statements on the Benghazi, Libya, attack. Unlike any other conservative pundits, Palin used the term “shuck and jive” to describe Obama’s behavior.
In a Facebook post, Palin wrote: “Obama’s Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies.” She also used the term in the text of the post, which concludes, “President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.”
The phrase “shuck and jive” popped up in the last presidential election cycle too, when New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said, “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference. All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.” At the time, Cuomo was supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in her primary race against Barack Obama and others.
CNN commentator Roland Martin responded by issuing a tutorial on the racially loaded nature of those words:
“Shucking and jiving” have long been words used as a negative assessment of African Americans, along the lines of a “foot shufflin’ Negro.” In fact, I don’t recall ever hearing the phrase used in reference to anyone white.
According to a story in Newsday, “The 1994 book ‘Juba to Jive, a Dictionary of African-American Slang,’ says ‘shuck and jive’ dates back to the 1870s and was an ‘originally southern ‘Negro’ expression for clowning, lying, pretense.’”
More on the etymology: “[B]lack slaves sang and shouted gleefully during corn-shucking season, and this behavior, along with lying and teasing, became a part of the protective and evasive behavior normally adopted towards white people in ‘traditional’ race relations.”
Palin is a contributor to Fox News, and I’ve asked the channel if it has any issue with Palin’s choice of language.