I use the term in the more general sense, know the etymology, and just happily applied it to Chauvin and cops of his ilk. But if an American conservative – right-wing populist or otherwise – uses the term “thug”, I can guarantee you it’s specifically about darker-skinned young males. That’s been the dog-whistle usage for decades now.
Oh, the man responsible for more than 100,000 American deaths from coronavirus is tweeting that “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and that protesters in Minneapolis should be shot? Who could’ve imagined that Mass Murderer Trump would ever call for mass murder?
It’s an actual quote from the race riots of the 60s. The phrase was used by Miami’s police chief, Walter Headley, in 1967, when he addressed his department’s “crackdown on … slum hoodlums,” according to a United Press International article from the time.
I’m sure by now you know I hate Trump, and would rather take a punch to the face than defend him. The guy is a racist scumbag.
In this case, it could be either, but I see people use the term thug for lowlifes in general. Perhaps his usage is intended to be that way, but I use the word myself. And I don’t direct its usage based on color.
50, 100 years ago, the term “thug” was indeed used to refer to the part of a gang (especially organized crime gangs) who’s job it was to beat up and intimidate targets of the gang or whoever hired them. (as in the “hired thugs” a crooked politician may hire to scare off a nosy reporter or investigator) (see also “goons”)
Now days, like many terms, it has been co-opted by the white supremacists as a generic term referring to any black man. Specifically implying that every black man is a dangerous violent criminal.
Outside of film noir movies and detective novels, the term is no longer understood in its old sense of meaning by the general population.
I don’t understand why the WH picked that quote. It’s not glorifying taking violent action or threatening anyone, that I can tell. It’s saying that if a person is killed by oppressors, they victim will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Y’all are being a little murkin-centric. “Thug” is used in almost all English Language dialects, and outside of the US (I gather), generally without a racist subtext. It is for example a frequently used word in hockey, one of the whitest sports there is. In my experience it is not unheard of on soccer and rugby pitches either.
The problem with the word is it is now coded language. 99% of the times when a racist uses it, it’s to describe black males.
Are there white “thugs”? Sure. You see lots of them in gangster stories of the pulp era. You very rarely see it used that way today.
Now - does everyone who uses that word mean it in a racist way? Probably not. Does it give one pause? Yeah. Like anytime you see other coded language like “88” in a gamer tag. Personally I try to avoid language that might lump me in with them.