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White DC Mayoral Staffer Loses Job for Saying "Niggardly"

Racial Preferences and Quotas = Racism!

Details of the Niggardly Controversy

          Washington, DC's black Mayor, Anthony Williams, gladly accepted the resignation of his white staff member, David Howard, because Mr. Howard uttered the word 'niggardly' in a private staff meeting.

          Webster's Tenth Edition defines the word 'niggardly' to "grudgingly mean about spending or granting".  The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of 'niggardly' to the 1300's, and to the words 'nig' and 'ignon', meaning "miser" in Middle English.  No where in any of these references is any mention of racial connotations associated with the word 'niggardly'.

          In other words, it's a perfectly good and useful word.  But there is the unfortunate coincidence that it starts with the same four letters as the word "nigger".  The news media are so loathe to use the "N" word, that they've been substituting the phrase "racial slur", as in "...they mistook the word 'niggardly' for a racial slur..."

          Washington, DC's population is 60% black, and it's citizens have been very critical of Mayor Williams for "not being black enough" -- especially because he hired several well-qualified whites to help him run this troubled city.

          Racial intolerance, ignorance, and misplaced political correctness have cost a white mayoral aide his job in Washington, DC.   And, as many of the other stories on Adversity.Net clearly illustrate, the "niggardly" controversy is only the tip of the "intolerance iceberg".

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          Immediately below are several prominent news stories about this insane and sad example of ignorance and racial intolerance. News
Down: Niggardly News Stories

Also, be sure to also see these other, related pages about racial insanity:

[Niggardly Terms to Avoid]     [Nappy Hair]      [Ebonics]

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Niggardly News Articles:

On Beyond 'Niggardly':   Hypocrisy at the NAACP (02/02/99 - dead link)
          "STUPIDITY has no color but ignorance sure is transparent. And ignorance showed through last week when Anthony Williams, the new black mayor of Washington, D.C., accepted the resignation of Public Advocate David Howard, who is white. Howard's offense was sounding offensive: In a staff meeting, he used a perfectly good word - ''niggardly'' - to describe the administration of a fund.
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          "Mayor Williams' pitiful explanation for accepting Howard's resignation? ''I don't think the use of [that n word] showed the kind of judgment that I like to see in our top management.''

          "In other words, Howard was, in the eyes of Mayor Williams, simply an educated fool who should've known better than to use such an erudite word. A word, if you please, that sounded so racially harsh in the ears of the ignorant and confused. After all, the mayor is determined, he says, to be an arbiter of racial sensitivity, inasmuch as ''We're trying to bring our city together.''

Niggardly Update 9-4-02!

A teacher in North Carolina almost lost her job for teaching her students about the perfectly good English word "Niggardly".  See Niggardly in North Carolina

          "Even the NAACP weighed in on Howard's side. NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond opined that the precipitous acceptance of Howard's resignation was ''niggardly'' on Williams' part. That was laying it on a bit thick, but Bond, the wordsmith, civil libertarian and civil-rights leader, drew the headline he was seeking."  (New York Post, 02/02/99 by Michael Myers)
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D.C. Mayor Acted 'Hastily,' Will Rehire Aide (Thu., Feb. 4, 1999 - Washington Post)
          "D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that he will rehire a former top aide who resigned last month because some city employees were offended that the aide used the word "niggardly" in describing how he would have to manage a fund's tight budget.

          "Williams, whose quick acceptance of David Howard's resignation last month led to a national debate over racial sensitivity and political correctness, indicated in a statement yesterday that he had made a mistake and "acted too hastily" in allowing Howard to resign as head of the city's constituent services office.

          "The mayor said that an internal review had "confirmed for me that Mr. Howard did use the word 'niggardly,' but did not use a racial epithet" during a Jan. 15 discussion with two employees of the Office of the Public Advocate. "Niggardly" means miserly and has no racial connotation.  Locally, [the controversy] focused attention on Williams's discomfort over criticism from some black residents that he has brought in too many white department managers who have little feel for their community."

          The article also contains an excellent chronology of the 'niggardly' fiasco.  (Washington Post, 02/04/99, page A1, by Yolanda Woodlee)
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Student Demands 'Niggardly' be Prohibited at University of Wisconsin (02/03/99)
          Student Amelia Rideau is upset that her professor used the 'N-ardly' word at least twice: Once on Jan. 25 during a class on 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer, and once in a subsequent class to explain the word’s meaning.  Ms. Rideau was outraged, and is demanding the UW implement a speech code which would punish anyone using what she described as 'offensive' language - including the 'N-ardly' word.  She urged the university not to require proof of intent before punishing verbal villains such as her professor.

          According to the Star Tribune: "Upset about the word' s similarity to a racial slur, Rideau talked to her professor, who then explained the word' s background, she said. On Friday, the professor repeated the word and defined it for the class, Rideau said. Angry he revisited the topic after she asked him not to, Rideau began to cry and stormed from the room. On Monday, she brought three black friends with her to the class for support, she said." (Associated Press, via Star Tribune 02/03/99)
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Ancient Word Costs Man His Job (01/28/99)
          "[DC Mayoral aide] David Howard could have used the word ``miserly'' to describe how he administered a Washington city government fund. Instead, he chose ``niggardly,'' and it cost him his job.   ``Niggardly'' means Scrooge-like. But it sounds a lot like a racial slur, and a few of Howard's [uninformed] colleagues took offense.

         "Mayor Anthony Williams, who is black, accepted the resignation of Howard, who is white, saying initially that his aide showed poor judgment even though he 'didn't say anything that was in itself racist.'   [As an educated man, Mayor Williams should be ashamed to offer this shallow and self-serving explanation.]

          "The mayor backpedaled a bit Wednesday, the day after Howard resigned. The mayor said an investigation was under way and Howard might return to the staff -- in a different job -- if he's ultimately judged to have done nothing wrong.

          " 'There's quite a bit of hubbub, quite a bit of buzz about it,'  said Kojo Nnamdi, black host of a public interest talk show.  'It's indicative of the state of race relations in Washington. A simple explanation should have sufficed. When it comes to race in Washington, apparently a simple explanation doesn't get it.' "  Indeed!  (Associated Press, via, by Deb Riechmann, 01/28/99)
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A waspish, niggardly "slur" (02/08/99 - U.S. News)
          "The nonimpeachment story of the last week of January was the controversy over the word "niggardly." David Howard, a white mayoral aide in Washington, D.C., used the word in conversation with a black official, who took offense because he felt that niggardly, which means miserly or cheap, was a racist term. Howard offered his resignation, which was accepted by Mayor Anthony Williams. The mayor explained that although Howard didn't say  'anything that was in itself racist,'  using a word that could be misunderstood was like   'getting caught smoking in a refinery with a resulting explosion.'

          "The resignation of Howard was, of course, a shock and a tragedy but it had a good result too. It sensitized us all to the hidden and hurtful ethnic slurs that darken–oops, sorry–that afflict American life and allow the wily perpetrators to get off scot free–er, without any punishment at all."  (U.S. News, 02/08/99 edition, by John Leo)
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It wasn't the N-word!  (02/01/99) (dead link)
          "Charles Dickens describes Bentley Drummle, a doomed character in 'Great Expectations,' as 'idle, proud, niggardly, reserved, and suspicious.'  In 1965, dissenting from the Supreme Court's ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice Hugo Black argued that to treat the First Amendment   'as though it protects nothing but 'privacy' ... is to give it a niggardly interpretation, not the kind of liberal reading' the Bill of Rights deserves.  And in II Corinthians 9:6 (Revised Standard Version), the apostle Paul writes:  'But do not forget that he who sows with a niggardly hand will also reap a niggardly crop, and that he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.'

          "It was in precisely this sense that [David] Howard used  'niggardly'  on Jan. 15 when he reviewed the constituent services budget with two of his aides, Marshall Brown and John Fanning.   'I will have to be niggardly with this fund,'  he said, 'because it's not going to be a lot of money.'

          "Apparently somebody had been niggardly with Brown's and Fanning's education, for they were offended by what they heard.   Brown - who reportedly wanted Howard's job - stormed out of the office.  At once the ugly rumors started.  'Niggardly' has about as much to do with the N-word as 'Day-Glo' does with the anti-Italian slur 'dago.' "   (Boston Globe, 02/01/99, by Jeff Jacoby)
[former link *]

Resignation doesn't help race relations (01/31/99)
          "...the story about the local official in Washington, D.C., who quit his job last week after a furor arose over his recent use of the word "niggardly."  The official, who is white, had told two co-workers that because of local budget problems, he will have to be "niggardly" in his use of a certain fund this year.

          "Niggardly, for the record, means miserly. It has always meant miserly. Niggardly has no relation to that other word most of us find so offensive.  Unfortunately, though, the two people who heard the official's comments were unfamiliar with the word "niggardly." They assumed it was a variation of that other word, and they reacted in horror.

           "The white official [David Howard] tried to explain. One of his co-workers accepted his explanation. The other didn't. Soon, rumors began to spread about what he had said. So he resigned. The new mayor of Washington, Anthony Williams, who is black, proceeded not only to accept the resignation, but to call it appropriate.

          "Which has led some prominent black leaders to applaud on the grounds that public officials should be more sensitive and other black leaders to disagree on the grounds that an innocent misunderstanding should not cost a man his job."  (Cleveland Live, 01/31/99)
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A single word exposes Washington racial tension (01/30/99) (dead link)
          "[New DC Mayor Anthony] Williams' multiethnic and better-off backers saw his arrival as ending the city's reputation as a national joke. But their bliss was short-lived. Less than a month into his term, Williams finds himself in a public controversy after a white aide used a word that sounded like a racial epithet.

          "The word -- 'niggardly' -- means miserly or cheap and has no racial connotation. But in a city with a 63 percent black majority, the misunderstanding quickly became public and the aide resigned. In surer hands, the incident might have been dismissed as trivial and meaningless. For Williams, who has had trouble navigating Washington's racial waters, the episode resurrected a nagging question: Is he 'black enough'?

          "Said James Wright, editor of the Afro-American, a black weekly newspaper in Washington:  'The problem with Anthony Williams is that many people feel that a lot of white people are pulling his strings. If you look at Tony Williams, he's a nerdy, geeky type of person' ".  (San Jose Mercury News, 01/30/99, by Tony Pugh and Tracey A. Reeves)
[former link *]

Williams Aide Resigns in Language Dispute (01/27/99)
          "The director of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams's constituent services office resigned after being accused of using a racial slur, the mayor's office said yesterday.  David Howard, head of the Office of Public Advocate, said he used the word 'niggardly' in a Jan. 15 conversation about funding with two employees.

          " 'I used the word 'niggardly' in reference to my administration of a fund,'  Howard said in a written statement yesterday.  'Although the word, which is defined as miserly, does not have any racial connotations, I realize that staff members present were offended by the word.  I immediately apologized,'  Howard said. ' . . . I would never think of making a racist remark. I regret that the word I did use offended anyone.'

          "When Howard, who is white, noticed the reaction to his use of the word, he apologized to his three-member staff, which is made up of two blacks and another white. It is unclear which two employees he was addressing when he used the word.

          "Soon after the remark was uttered, the rumor mill started churning that Howard had used the word 'nigger'."   (Washington Post, 01/27/99, Page B1, by Yolanda Woodlee)
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Mayor's white aide resigns DC post for racial intolerance and ignorance (01/26/99)
          "A member of the new [Washington, DC] mayor's executive staff resigned Tuesday because of [extremely misplaced, ignorant, and uninformed] complaints he used a racial epithet. But even as he stepped down, David Howard, who is white, said the word he used - ``niggardly'' - does not have any racial connotation. [Indeed, the word has NO racial connotations.]

          " 'Mr. Howard's resignation was prompted by reports that he made an inappropriate racial comment,' Mayor Anthony Williams said in a statement Tuesday night.  In a separate statement, Howard identified the word he used as 'niggardly' and said he was referring to a fund he administers. Howard said it means 'miserly'. [Which is true:  niggardly does mean miserly, or cheap.]

          "Webster's Tenth Edition concurs, defining it as 'grudgingly mean about spending or granting.' The dictionary dates its use to the late 16th century.

          "Because the word sounds like a racial epithet [i.e., it sounds like 'nigger'], Howard said, he realized other members of the mayor's staff present when he made the remark were offended. He said he quickly apologized."  (Associated Press, via Boston Herald, 01/26/99)
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NAACP Chairman Critical of Mayor in Washington Word Flap (01/28/99 - dead link)
          "The chairman of the NAACP says Washington Mayor Anthony Williams acted in a 'niggardly' way by accepting the resignation of an aide who offended some people by using that word in a conversation.   'You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people's lack of understanding,'  Julian Bond said today, noting 'niggardly'' means stingy and has no offensive connotation even though it sounds similar to a slur.

          " 'This whole episode speaks loudly to where we are on issues of race. Both real and imagined slights are catapulted to the front burner.' "  Julian Bond went on to say " 'Seems to me the mayor [Anthony Williams] has been niggardly in his judgment on this issue,'  Bond said pointedly by phone.

          "In addition to being chairman of the largest civil rights organization, Bond, who is black, teaches at the University of Virginia and is a student of language.  'We have a hair-trigger sensibility and I think that is particularly true of racial minorities,'  he said.  'These affronts do happen, they are expected to happen, and even innocent parties can find themselves victims.' "  (Associated Press, via Fox News 01/28/99, by Deb Riechmann)
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Race Mix-Up Raises Havoc for Capital (01/29/99) (dead link)
          "The new black Mayor's decision to accept the resignation of a white aide who upset a black colleague by using the word "niggardly" has turned into a major embarrassment for the young administration.

          "The decision of the Mayor, Anthony A. Williams, has been widely criticized from all sides: blacks who already questioned his loyalty and think he is wishy-washy in saying now that he may rehire the aide for another post, blacks who think he was unfair to an upright public servant, whites who see the move as pandering, conservatives on a crusade against political correctness and gay activists who say he might have given the aide, David Howard, the Mayor's first openly gay appointee, a minute to explain before sending him on his way.

          "[David] Howard, who was the mayoral ombudsman, used the word on Jan. 15 in a budget discussion with two co-workers. "I will have to be niggardly with this fund because it's not going to be a lot of money," he said.  (NY Times 01/29/99 by Melinda Henneberger)

In the new America, defining dumb down (01/29/99)
   (Opinion, Washington Times):  "The crime of David William Howard is that he paid attention in high-school English class. He "acted white," in the argot of inner-city black kids (but since he is white surely he can be excused). When he used a perfectly good English word in a meeting with two subordinates -- one white, and one black who wanted his job -- the black subordinate said he heard him make a racial slur. Two weeks later, after a campaign of racial vilification, Mr. Howard resigned. The word Mr. Howard used was "niggardly."

          "The subordinate, a black man named Brown, apparently presumed that "niggardly" was the equivalent of "niggerly," though the words "niggardly" and "nigger" are not remotely related; indeed, no one has ever heard of an adverbial form of the ugly corruption of the word "Negro," which only yesterday was the word educated people --Martin Luther King, for example -- used to describe persons of African descent.   (Washington Times, by Wesley Pruden, Editor in Chief, 01/29/99)

END of DC Niggardly Controversy.

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