Take a look at this:

The racism in this is embedded in so many ways. First off, of course, there is the “jew down” phrase. This is not unique. There are other such expressions, such as “being gipped”, or “Indian giver”. My grandparents spent most of their lives in Algeria, when it was a French colony, and, as non-racist and pro-independence as they were, they did use the phrase “Arab work” to describe shoddy work, and if they wanted to describe a shapely backside, they used the expression to have a butt “like an Arab trunk”.

So, the charming fellow in the video is tapping into a long cultural history of denigrating minorities through casual language and phrases that imply dishonesty and carelessness, not the way moral, decent people – i.e. the dominant group – behave.

But look more closely at the video. As soon as he uses the racist phrase, you can see the guy in the upper-left corner starts to laugh. He’s in the know. And then, at the .45 mark, someone off-camera reminds Johnson of what he just said. Now listen to Johnson’s reaction to be called on it. And, of course, he kinda apologizes by doubling down. And everybody laughs.

This is what happens when one member of the in-groups blurts out in public what is usually limited to talk among in-group members, in private, out of sight. When that stuff inadvertently comes out in public, one guy smiles because he knows that’s the stuff they talk about in private and, oops, the old man blurts it out. Look at the way the guy in the upper-left corner laughs and swivels around in his chair, looking for other witnesses, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

And the non-apology apology is accomplished as a big joke on pretending to paying a compliment that actually taps into the stereotype of the Jews and money (they’re good at it… we know they control the global economy but they can be good at small business as well!).

The finishing touch is the subtle and dismissive head shake, shrug, and smirk at the end, as if to say “what is the nonsense? Why do I have to apologize for this? Everybody knows it”.

And everybody laughs, because we’re among friends and we know this stuff to be true, except this time, someone said it in public with a mic. But they all know it’s true. And that is that shared set of beliefs, that they know is supposed to remain private and not said in public, that is the source of their laughter.

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