April 25, 2012

Politico deploys the racial epithet "vanilla."

"Rob Portman: Vice President Vanilla?"

 Not only is this offensively racial, it's an insult to an amazingly complex and powerful flavor.

Vanilla is, according to the OED, "A pod produced by one or other species of the genus Vanilla (see sense 2), esp. V. planifolia. Chiefly in pl."

Ah, yes. A pod. We were just talking about pods. Continuing in the OED with the oldest appearances of "vanilla" in the English language:
1662   H. Stubbe Indian Nectar ii. 11   They added‥the Vaynillas [to the chocolate] for the like ends, and to strengthen the brain....
1673   J. Ray Observ. Journey Low-countries 485   Vanillas which they mingle with the Cacao to make Chocolate....
1697   W. Dampier New Voy. around World iii. 38   There grow on this Coast Vinelloes in great quantity, with which Chocolate is perfumed...
1748 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 45 160   The Vanelloe. With the Fruit of this Plant the Spaniards perfume their Chocolate.
Strengthen the brain!

59 comments:

Patrick said...

Some cooking magazine I was reading awhile back spent much time making that vanilla is a strong flavor, NOT the absence of flavor, as it has come to be categorized.

AJ Lynch said...

As opposed to Politico's writers who are probably just whitebread.

DADvocate said...

I like to put a little vanilla in my eggs when I make French toast. Yum.

Sorun said...

Isn't Politico written by people who live in the Chocolate City?

EDH said...

Strengthen the brain!

Vanilla is my favorite flavor of ice cream.

Brain Freeze: Scientists Say They've Found The Real Cause Of Ice Cream Headaches

gloogle said...

Many years ago, when Rush had his syndicated TV show, there was some manufactured outrage over some Republican using the word "vanilla" as some racist code-word.

Rush held up a bottle of vanilla extract, and simply said, "vanilla is brown".

Priceless...

david said...

A Google image search with the word vanilla turns up many photos of long and dark "pods". Vanilla beans/pods are not white or any shade of off white.

Used as a racial epithet, "vanilla" does not make a whole lot of sense unless one is really speaking about ice cream flavors...

MadisonMan said...

Although I think it would be fun to ask a pundit who calls someone 'vanilla' if they've ever called Obama 'chocolate', I'm rejecting the notion that 'vanilla' is a racial epithet.

Vanilla has a long history of being synonymous for bland. It just doesn't have the zing of cardamom or cinnamon or paprika or pepper. Senator Portman does seem to have those bland qualities (NTTAWWT).

edutcher said...

Having to agree with MadMan.

Vanilla is synonymous with generic (or bland). Anybody who says it's racial is trying to create a fight where none exists and, since this is Politico we're talking about, that's hardly surprising.

As for Portman, the Romster would be better off with Ryan.

traditionalguy said...

Are they saying Portman is the creme brulee from Ohio? Perhaps a French vanilla that Romney likes from his time spent in Paris.

I get it. There are effete white men trying to beat the chocolate man of the common people.

Sorun said...

I think it'd be more accurate to refer to Obama as "swirl" rather than chocolate.

I don't Vanilla Ice named himself that because he thought he was bland.

lemondog said...

As for Portman, the Romster would be better off with Ryan.

Too many 'R's". Need diversity.

Chris Christie. He Scottish, Irish, and Sicilian descent and a heavyweight.

Ann Althouse said...

"Many years ago, when Rush had his syndicated TV show, there was some manufactured outrage over some Republican using the word "vanilla" as some racist code-word. Rush held up a bottle of vanilla extract, and simply said, "vanilla is brown"."

Again, from the OED:

"1888 Encycl. Brit. XXIV. 66/2 The best varieties of vanilla pods are of a dark chocolate brown or nearly black color."

Hagar said...

It is the ice cream that is "white," not the vanilla.

And that vanilla is considered bland is because a hint of vanilla enhances the food flavor, but just a little more is overpowering and ruins the taste, so the rule is to use it sparingly.

Hagar said...

And also that in the early days, vanilla was the only flavoring used in ice cream, so that when other flavorings came along they were considered exotic and venturesome.

Rabel said...

A week or so ago, Meade mentioned Portman as a good VP choice for Romney. I wasn't familiar with Portman so I googled him.

When his picture popped up, the first thought in my head was: he's too damn white. "Whitebread" was my second thought.

He's probably a good man and might be the best VP since...Cheney, I'm just reporting the picture/word association I experienced.

The diversity programming must be seeping in. Resistance may be futile.

edutcher said...

lemondog said...

As for Portman, the Romster would be better off with Ryan.

Too many 'R's". Need diversity.


Yes, but it sings.

ndspinelli said...

Well, Darryl Dawkins was "Chocolate Thunder". Maybe Portman should be called, "Vanilla__________ You fill in the blank.

Cedarford said...

It is a tool that liberals and progressive Jews running much of US media use to "educate" people that white people are dull, "pasty", "vanilla".
And in fiction, white people always need a "Magic Negro" to tutor them and morally instruct them....and all too many movies now have a cliche` that the top scientist, best lawyer, the Most Righteous lawman MUST be black. Infinite wisdom, infinite moral authority.

Axelrod and his team of writers do scrips that cast various black pols they help elect as "Magic Negroes". Before Black Messiah, Axelrod had made a sort of speciality of casting over a dozen black clients seeking high office not as angry Sharptons but kindly Magic Negroes - there to help us all.

Magic Negroes learn it best not sneer at all things White and Western when cast by Axelrod, because doing so would make them seem threatening and hostile to other races. So the sneering about pasty skins, old dead white males, vanilla people, dumb white Christian religious trash, loser white athletes...that is the forte of "edgey" liberals and progressive Jews.

Joe said...

I'm ready for bland after years of hype. Not just Obama's bullshit, but "compassionate conservatism" and all of Bush's bullshit.

Pogo said...

Are there no wise latinas available for VP?

Joe said...

Oh, and the vice-presidency is a nonsense position. If there is anything to learn from Obama, McCain, Bush and Clinton and the first Bush (both as president and VP) it's best to have a boring non-embarrassing, vice-president who stays out of the way.

ndspinelli said...

Pogo, The governor of NM is latina, not sure she's wise. I was in Taos and Albq. during the campaign. I think she mostly won because the state was fed up w/ the corrupt Latino, Bill Richardson.

Meade said...

Ohio will be key to winning the White House in November.

Those of you still stinging over the failure to elect Kerry/Edwards back in 2004 can blame Portman and a mere 70,000 of us voters in southest Ohio.

Methadras said...

I would be very very annoyed if he picks Portman.

ricpic said...

The issue is white skin, the war on whites, not the flavor vanilla. But go ahead, hide behind cleverness.

Chip S. said...

Oh, good. There's now an unofficial quota system in place for presidential tickets.

Of course, since conservative women aren't real women and conservative blacks aren't real blacks, this means that Republicans should just concede the presidency in perpetuity.

rhhardin said...

Vanilla is bland because it's the default choice in ice cream, if you don't want anything in particular.

It's not bland elsewhere.

Its use for default unspecial choice is its rhetorical point, from the ice cream case.

I can't understand its being racial, let alone offensively racial, unless offensively means, as it might, primed to take offense in a search for advantage.

That's a dysfunctional black institution.

Shanna said...

As for Portman, the Romster would be better off with Ryan.

Too many 'R's". Need diversity.


"After four years of Obama, we need some R&R" makes an interesting campaign slogan.

lemondog said...

And that vanilla is considered bland is because a hint of vanilla enhances the food flavor, but just a little more is overpowering and ruins the taste, so the rule is to use it sparingly.

Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean

YUMMM!!!

Haagen Dazs for VP! A pint of ice cream in every pot!

Pastafarian said...

Meade, you're right, Ohio is pivotal. I don't know if Portman on the ticket would swing many voters, though.

I think it's more important that Kasich does whatever he can to prevent 200,000 dead and imaginary northeast Ohioans from casting their ballots in Cleveland this time around.

Andy R. said...

Not only is this offensively racial

Do you think that using vanilla for a personality is only applied to white people?

Chip S. said...

We await for your counterexample.

Chip S. said...

scratch the "for".

Pogo said...

Now if he chose Natalie Portman for VP, then you got your schwing votes.

Robert said...

I think it's perfectly fine, as long as Politico, to be consistent, next pens an article entitled:

"Joe Biden: Vice President Dumbfuck?"

Although to be fully accurate they should remove the question mark, as there's really no question that the resultant declarative is fully accurate.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

And Joe Biden represents something SPICY?

TANSTAAFL said...

Politico: whiter than a Klan meeting in a snowstorm.

Squid said...

It's been shown several times in recent history that racial offense is determined by the listener, and the writer/speaker's intent doesn't enter into the equation. Althouse is very white, and as a white person, if she decides that the term is offensive, then it's offensive, no matter what the writer intended. If the progressives don't like that system, they've nobody to blame but themselves

Q.E.D.

sdferr said...

Vanilla is an orchid thinger. Orchids are named after balls, the Greek ὄρχις, testicle. Inference drawn?

ndspinelli said...

Pogo, You are en fuego lately! love the Natalie Portman comment and homage to Wayne and Garth.

lemondog said...

Any points for Madagascar vanilla ??

Jim Treacher said...

Their rules.

Their turn.

Unknown said...

Vanilla pods. Podium pods. Where will it all end? It's deja vu all over again. "They're here already! You're next! You're next!"

Rabel said...

Andy:
"Do you think that using vanilla for a personality is only applied to white people?"

Chip:
"We await for your counterexample."

Me:
Andy Wins One?

Andy R. said...

We await for your counterexample.

I'm getting google results for Colin Powell and Tiger Woods with vanilla personality. Are there any non-white people who we should suspect have a vanilla personality that I should investigate to see if the term has been applied to them?

AJ Lynch said...

Pogo - Natalie Portman joke is genius! I am still LMAO.

Chip S. said...

Ha ha.

I'll give you points for humor, and for taking up the challenge.

Chip Ahoy said...

I think I am an expert on vanilla beans but I'm not sure. The only way I have to know for sure is that I have the natural ability to bore the living piss out of anybody with simple stings of vanilla bean related details. So I set a mental timer.

But here's something I think you might find interesting about those bees. The specific Melipona bees needed for pollination that prevented vanilla from being a viable plantation crop until Charles Morren discovered the relationship. But his method was too scientifical and didn't work practically until a slave girl discovered the plants can be pollinated by hand, labor intensive as each plant must be revisited but still better than Morren's technique which I think was mechanical.

The plant is an orchid, the flowers arrayed in developmental sequence. The blooms are open for pollination at night for only one night. The plant must be revisited continuously until all the blooms on the branch are pollinated.

So here's the thing I want to tell you. If you were relying on those bees, which nobody does, but if'n you did, then you don't have to worry about that bloom one night only thing because those bees go right over to the buds that are not ready to open and they physically open them. It's kind of shocking to stand there watching them fly over, and they don't wait for night time either, they just fly over and open the flowers that are ripest and then go to the next one that is nearly ripe and open it right up and go right in and disappear inside and you can see the little bud bulging this side that side as the bee has its way with it inside there. It's a female bee as I understand it but it looks exactly like plant-rape from the outside, the bee comes out and does it again to another even less developed bud along the line and so on down the branch until the buds become too tight to open. It's very obscene in appearances. It is. It just is. Maybe hand pollination is better for the plant after all. More care is taken, more gentle consideration toward the plant.

Revenant said...

I'm getting google results for Colin Powell and Tiger Woods with vanilla personality

Amusingly, the top Google result for "Colin Powell vanilla personality" is... you.

The top Google result for "Tiger Woods vanilla personality" is... you.

Either the internet cares a lot about what you think, or the pairing of those two concepts doesn't come up much. :)

Don Jansen said...

"it's the finest of the flavors"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRiF_THZTYI

ricpic said...

Hey Chip Ahoy, why is French Vanilla ice cream so much better than plain Vanilla ice cream? Is it a bean thing? Or something else?

ken in sc said...

I see that several did mention that vanilla comes from an orchid. It truly is exotic.

leslyn said...

Hey Squid, what is "very white?" As opposed to mostly white" or "somewhat white?" Does it have anything to do with tanning salons?

Chip S. said...

Hey Squid, what is "very white?" As opposed to mostly white" or "somewhat white?" Does it have anything to do with tanning salons?

No, it has to do with visual acuity.

Note that "vanilla" isn't even remotely the whitest of those whites.

Strelnikov said...

Love the pod.

zefal said...

A William Buckley quote: "There's nothing vanilla about the flavor of vanilla."

Anthony said...

Rabel - a (Republican) friend of mine believed that Bush 41 chose Dan Quayle as his running mate because Quayle was *so* white that he made Bush look "ethnic".

walter said...

Less derogatory than "Pale, male and stale". Was reminded of that gem by a black woman on an all woman discussion panel.