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Mark Twain New Editions: ‘Offensive’ Words To Be Removed

Dear HuffingtonPost:

I find your deletion of my comment on the N-word-to-“slave” change in Mark Twain’s Huckleberr­y Finn offensive, Huffington­Post. You can’t erase history by simply erasing a word. Your knee-jerk deletion actually proves the point of my previous comment. That we Americans are willfully dumb and unwilling to have a real, ugly yet conciliato­ry conversati­on about race, racism, and racist behavior and speech. I guess I should’ve written Randall Kennedy’s book [N-word]: The Strange Career of a Troublesom­e Word (2002) or Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City” (1973), where the warden says “in your cell, [N-word]” or Carl Van Vechten’s [N-word] Heaven (1926) instead of the actual word. We’d spend the next 50 years editing the word out of existence, only having not dealt with the hurt, anger, discrimina­tion, and issues of inferiorit­y contained in the context in which the N-word was and is being used.

Let’s go a step further, and edit Shakespear­e’s Othello or Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” (1899) or any number of other works because they contain potentiall­y offensive attitudes about race. Your deletion explains well why South Africa could do a truth and reconcilia­tion commission on apartheid, and why it will take a cultural revolution for racial reconcilia­tion to happen here in the US.