The Times has a bunch of folks talking about the word as related to its being whitewashed clear out of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, as published by a company ironically (and erroneously) named NewSouth . Some people fairly eloquently explain why that’s wrong, others are rather muddled, and still yet one more has his head up his ass (and is from Texas, no less).
It’s really quite simple to me why ‘slave’ cannot replace ‘nigger.’ ‘Slave’ is an occupation. ‘Nigger’ is a mode of being. I can be a carpenter right up until I quit, at which point I am no longer a carpenter. I will always be male.