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'Hold down the fort' racially offensive


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#1 vetneufuse

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:39

State Department: 'Hold down the fort,' other common phrases could be offensive

Read more: http://www.foxnews.c.../#ixzz258Aq9Qxy

Watch your mouth -- everyday phrases like "hold down the fort" and "rule of thumb" are potentially offensive bombshells.
At least according to the State Department.

Chief Diversity Officer John Robinson penned a column in the department's latest edition of "State MagazinePosted Image" advising readers on some rather obscure Ps and Qs.

Robinson ticked off several common phrases and went on to explain why their roots are racially or culturally insensitive. The result was a list of no-nos that could easily result in some tongue-tied U.S. diplomats, particularly in an administration that swaps "war on terror" for "overseas contingency operation" and once shied away from using the word "terrorism."

For instance, Robinson warned, "hold down the fort" is a potentially insulting reference to American Indian stereotypes.
"How many times have you or a colleague asked if someone could 'hold down the fort?'" he wrote. "You were likely asking someone to watch the office while you go and do something else, but the phrase's historical connotation to some is negative and racially offensive."
He explained: "To 'hold down the fort' originally meant to watch and protect against the vicious Native American intruders. In the territories of the West, Army soldiers or settlers saw the 'fort' as their refuge from their perceived 'enemy,' the stereotypical 'savage' Native American tribes."
He singled out another phrase, "Going Dutch," as a "negative stereotype portraying the Dutch as cheap."
And "rule of thumb," he wrote, can according to women's activists refer "to an antiquated law, whereby the width of a husband's thumb was the legal size of a switch or rod allowed to beat his wife."

Further, he explained, "If her bruises were not larger than the width of his thumb, the husband could not be brought to court to answer for his behavior because he had not violated the 'rule of thumb.'"

He went on to urge caution over the word "handicap," as some disability advocates "believe this term is rooted in a correlation between a disabled individual and a beggar, who had to beg with a cap in his or her hand because of the inability to maintain employment."
What to make of all this?

Robinson cited the cautionary tale of Nike rolling out a "Black and Tan" sneaker without realizing the phrase once referred to a group "that committed atrocities against Irish civilians." Nike later apologized.

"Choose your words thoughtfully," Robinson wrote. "Now that you know the possible historical context of the above phrases, perhaps you will understand why someone could be offended by their use. Let us agree that language will continue to evolve with continually improving consciousness and respect for others."
Robinson also serves as the director of the Office of Civil Rights and an adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on diversity issues. He earlier worked as chief diversity officer with the IRS.


#2 Nick H.

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:42

Why do people need to hold down the fort, is it going to fly away or something?

The phrase is to "hold the fort" which can't really be considered offensive considering that in itself it's making you be on the defensive, maintaining your position against enemy attackers. The fact that it was used to describe a situation against Native American tribes and therefore that is why it is considered offensive...well, that's just silly.

#3 Anibal P

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:44

Why do people need to hold down the fort, is it going to fly away or something?

The phrase is to "hold the fort" which can't really be considered offensive considering that in itself it's making you be on the defensive, maintaining your position against enemy attackers. The fact that it was used to describe a situation against Native American tribes and therefore that is why it is considered offensive...well, that's just silly.


It's not about logic or sense, it's just more PC crap

#4 ZakO

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:44

http://www.youtube.c...O0MFkmpw#t=127s (2:07 onwards).

#5 +Nik L

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:45

To "hold the fort" is the correct phrase. No idea where this stray "down" comes from.

Anyway, NO it is not culturally or racially offensive. Why? Because no single culture or race has ever been the only ones to attack a fort. We had forts/fortresses/castles/bastilles/etc in Europe and around the rest of the world long before America was a glimmer in the eye of a disillusioned Brit with a penchant for sailing and scurvy!

#6 Zodiarck

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:46

Why do people need to hold down the fort, is it going to fly away or something?

The phrase is to "hold the fort" which can't really be considered offensive considering that in itself it's making you be on the defensive, maintaining your position against enemy attackers. The fact that it was used to describe a situation against Native American tribes and therefore that is why it is considered offensive...well, that's just silly.


+ 1

And might i add, it is offensive if you want to use it like that, it's all just words , you just need to know how to put them :)

#7 FMH

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:46

Here's something I really didn't know! Rule of Thumb is just ridiculous! :D

I doubt many people know that, when they use this term.

#8 Zodiarck

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:47

To "hold the fort" is the correct phrase. No idea where this stray "down" comes from.

Anyway, NO it is not culturally or racially offensive. Why? Because no single culture or race has ever been the only ones to attack a fort. We had forts/fortresses/castles/bastilles/etc in Europe and around the rest of the world long before America was a glimmer in the eye of a disillusioned Brit with a penchant for sailing and scurvy!


Hold down the tongue, castles are really offensive to me :rofl:

#9 ahhell

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:53

Someone out there is offended by everything. Shocking.

#10 Sulphy

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 13:57

.... this is just ridiculous!!! .... didnt know about the rule of thumb tho...! interesting... dont think the missus will agree tho! :)

#11 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 14:01

*sigh* More PC nonsense...

The origins of certain phrases aren't really relevant; only their current usage is.

#12 threetonesun

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 14:02

Jerry can / jerry rig can be added to that list too.

#13 +Chris123NT

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 14:08

Yay, more attacks on free speech by politically correct nutballs.

*sigh*.

#14 SupportGeek

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 14:16

Meanings change, language and usage evolves, what may have been the origin of a word doesnt hold any real sway over current usage or contexts. People need to grow a skin thicker than tissue paper and this PC crap needs to go away.

#15 jakem1

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 14:17

He explained: "To 'hold down the fort' originally meant to watch and protect against the vicious Native American intruders."


Hmmm, the idea that the Native Americans were the intruders seems pretty offensive.