As James Taranto puts it, in a thoughtful, well-written essay on the South Carolina Republican debate the other night (see "Why They Stood and Cheered") and on the moment when Newt Gingrich received what may be - according to Taranto - the only standing ovation in presidential primary history:
[N]o Republican running for president is proposing a return to Jim Crow or a repeal of civil rights laws. [Lee] Siegel's implicit notion [found here] that only whites are capable of benefiting from economic freedom under a regime of legal equality amounts to an insidious theory of racial supremacy.Hear hear.
That is the idea that Newt Gingrich repudiated in answer to Juan Williams's (not particularly objectionable) question. That is what brought the crowd to their feet.
The people who stood and cheered as the former speaker forcefully defended the freedom of "every American of every background" were mostly white members of today's Republican Party in the state that started the Civil War and later produced "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman and Strom Thurmond. That it was Martin Luther King Day was lagniappe.
"Next to the election of a black president, we'd say that Gingrich's standing O was the most compelling dramatization of racial progress so far this century. Which isn't to say that racism has been completely eradicated. It lives on in the minds of liberals who see Bull Connor when they look at Ozzie Nelson."
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I was curious, when I read the passage cited above, about the usage of the pronoun in this sentence: "That is what brought the crowd to their feet." Their? Shouldn't it read, "That is what brought the crowd to its feet"? Knowing that James Taranto is punctilious when it comes to the proper usage of grammar and syntax, I wondered how he could have used the plural "their" instead of the singular "its" in conjunction with the noun "crowd." So I looked it up.
As it turns out, either would be acceptable.
Ya just never know ...