Words are the incarnation of thoughts; by controlling their meanings, politicians aim to control the thoughts they represent. During the first two thirds of the 20th century, people who were not ot your ancestry group were colloquially: wops or dagos, bohunks, krauts, polacks, frogs, wogs, greasers, limeys, kikes or niggers. These terms were disparaging means for referring to Italians, Hungarians, Germans, Poles, French, Asians, Mexicans, British, Jews or Negros. Many of these terms originated among soldiers who needed to disparage an enemy to make him less frightening. None were complimentary, though ‘kike’ expressed anti-Semitism in particular in addition to a general opprobrium and so was a degree or two worse than the other terms. Mostly, the opprobrium of a given term reflected the social standing of the designated minority. And that was all. Any of the terms was thought a vulgar usage but none equated with ‘bad language’ or swearing. Blacks, like everyone else, did the same, using ‘ofay’ and other terms for whites. Speakers of Italian, French, German or other languages, kenw that the same occurred there. Speakers of Yiddish knew that its vocabulary was no less rich. It was something that people did.
Decades of anti-discriminatory policies by the American government and Left wing intelligentsia have accomplished some interesting changes. Most of the terms have dropped out of use as their targets have morphed into simply, Americans. If you interject ‘wop’ or kraut’ into a conversation these days, some won’t know what you mean; those who know, won’t be offended as once they might have if they thought they were the one you meant. The terms have lost their sting. But for two: ‘kike’ is still not only low class but out of line when referring to Jews and ‘nigger’ is no longer allowed at all. And that is an interesting sociopolitical observation. Especially when one observes that the term is in common use among blacks, carrying no opprobrium whatever. ‘Kike’ however, would never be exchanged among Jews but as an insult.
Therefore, ‘kike’ is by definition, a more offensive term than is ‘nigger.’ It is an insult no matter who says it; the latter term is only insulting in the mouths of non-blacks. This fact alone is an insult to non-blacks. It’s the verbal equivalent of ‘affirmative action’ by which non-blacks are discriminated in favor of blacks in employment, lending and education policies. And so far as English is concerned, it appears to be unique.
There are interesting exceptions; I hear that ‘nigger’ is in common usage in NFL locker rooms by both blacks and whites, with no offense intended nor taken. That too is telling; whites regarded as members of a common group are exempt from the more formal standards. So conclusively, it is not the term that is offensive; it is the user. That is of itself, more offensive than the term could possibly be; offensive, that is, to non-blacks. But the social paradigm sets those up for targeting while protecting blacks; it is on its face, one-sided, hypocritical. It is a use of words to condition and reinforce white guilt.
White guilt is itself a construct, an artificial creation aimed at controlling behavior. It has been some one hundred forty nine years since American slavery ended; slavery in Africa continues today among black as well as non-black slaveowners. Todays’s non-black Americans are as ‘gulty’ of black slavery as a murderer’s great grandchild is of her great grandad’s crimes. Add that post-slavery social discrimination was not limited to black targets; it was a universal.
Lewis Carroll wrote a political satire thougf few recognize that now, in Alice in Wonderland. A pertinent interview in that story includes:
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
Politicians have been playing their games with the language for a long time.