Friday, August 29, 2014

Embrace Your Inner Redskin

Embrace your inner cowboy.....
or Redskin for that matter.

The Power of Language to Change Perception - The Washington Redskins Conundrum

As the NFL football season approaches, everybody's all up in the air about whether or not the Washington Redskins should change their name in order to avoid offending Native American people. Some sportscasters have vowed not to use the R-word during broadcasts. Some tribes have sued the NFL. Others have taken the side of the team and call out the PC police for creating what they call a phony issue designed to make another whole race of people into victims.

The authors of the controversy say that changing the team's name will unite Americans in peaceful coexistence and harmony. How's that worked out for them?  Really, all they've managed to do is to divide the country and cast aspersions on people whose politics they don't like.

So, how about letting the people who are being slurred determine whether or not "Redskins" is a slur or not. Let's get the guys out of it who are third parties with no skin in the game other than to make themselves feel better about their own moral superiority over the stupid rednecks who call their football team the Redskins? And don't forget the would-be law-suit millionaires; they'll be suing for "damages" next. They have a vested interest in keeping the issue stirred up.

Not all Indians/Redskins/Native Americans are offended by the name of the Washington Team. Some of us find the name Redskins applied to a sports team, to be a tribute to our warrior ancestors, worthy adversaries who stood bravely against an unjust genocidal war waged against us by the racists and greedy bloodsuckers of the time (You know who you are). We know that the depredations against the red man by whites in the 19th century were by no means approved of by the American public in general. The country was sharply divided. Many people were sympathetic with the plight of Indians and found some of the government's "military" actions to be quite appalling. For the past century or so, Congress has hardly ever passed an appropriations bill or funding package that doesn't include money for the tribes in it. We feel bad about how some of our people treated the noble Red Man (that was the language the whites who sympathized with the tribes used at the time). There were powerful voices raised against our mistreatment of the Indian nations In Congress too (mostly Republicans by the way - just a little historical note).

Every race has its predators. Some of my own Native American ancestors could have handled their relations with whites a whole lot better. The truth is some of the tribes were more like roving gangs of thugs than they were like civilized people. This behavior reflected badly on all the majority of the rest of us who were peaceful. Some of the "warriors" who made themselves famous - were, quite frankly the terrorists of the Old West.

My ancestors lived in tents. Others were abused by the British and hunted across the peat bogs of Ireland. Others stood firm on the bridge at Culloden. My grandparents proudly chopped cotton. Some slept most of their lives under the stars and lived in the saddle. We farmed, we hunted, we preached and we made brooms for a living. One of my kin (to our eternal shame) was an English country squire.

I have enough native American blood that if I had the same amount of black blood in me, I'd be considered an African American by the Social Security Administration. My Indian ancestors have this wonderful belief that if you have even a relatively small amount of tribal blood in your veins, you're one of the tribe. Only white racists believe that a drop of some "other" blood makes you tainted. That's why I dislike being sensitive to the use of Native American symbolism. It smacks of paternalism - the idea that the tribes are so weak and pathetic that we must protect them by making it wrong to use their names and symbols if they're not part of some officially sanctioned Indian organization, group or activity.

What's ironic is that the same group winding up about offending Indians is the same group that calls dumping a cross into a jar of urine "Art" and says we Christians have no right to be offended.

I wouldn't complain much if the team changed its name to something else just to make the whiners stop whining. Let's make it the Washington Rednecks. That tactic would role model how to deal with racial slurs. Instead of whining like little girls, embrace the name and make it your own. Be proud of it. Black people almost did that with the n-word up until whiny white liberals got into the act and made the word unspeakable.

Of course, if we did change the name to "Rednecks", then some ambulance chaser would file suit on behalf of offended "indigenous southern peoples" and there would go a perfectly good word and with it Jeff Foxworthy's career. The PC police are already calling Robin Williams a racist for his "Welcome to Iraq. Help me" joke that Billy Crystal showed at the Emmys.

How about let's take a vote among the tribes? Not the tribal politicians, the ones making their living off of lawsuits and white guilt, but the rank and file members of the Nations. Ask them if they want the image of the Native American forcibly removed from the sides of football helmets. Then shall we get to work on with the logos of the Atlanta Braves, The Kansas City Chiefs, The Cleveland Indians, The Florida State Seminoles and the Chicago Blackhawks? The Golden State Warriors have preemptively removed any Native American symbolism from their logo, so unless bridge-builders or superheroes who dress all in black get offended they should be okay.

83% of American Indian respondents to a Sports Illustrated poll said that professional teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots or symbols. But what do they know? They aren't wealthy white liberals.

I feel the same way about the use of Scots-Irish symbols - The Fighting Irish, The Boston Celtics, The UP Edinboro Fighting Scots and my personal favorite the University of Northern Colorado Fighting Whites!  That last one would probably have to be changed because some moral cop would see it as promoting the idea that whites are racially superior, just like using an Indian team name promotes the idea that Indians are racially inferior.......................................uh, what?.

You see what I'm talking about. It's a descent into madness. I say, we all get us some "I am a Redskin - Hear me whoop!" T-shirts and make some noise. The more our tribes symbols get out there, the more likely we will not fade into historical obscurity.  Who in the world would remember the Illini tribe if it weren't for the Univ. of Illinois "Fighting Illini"?  I say plaster Indian symbols everywhere. Let's remember them and never allow thugs and bullies to ever do harm to any other group of people again.

Look, the other side of my ancestral gene pool managed to turn the classist slur "Redneck" into a badge of pride (and THAT was a word created by nose-in-the-air white liberals specifically to disparage poor Southern working white folk - the same morally self-important folks by the way, who are now having heart palpitations over white people using Indian symbols for sports teams).

To me, Indian-named sports teams are a tribute to a brave people who have been done wrong. The use of the name keeps their memory alive. We have always named sports teams after things we hoped would capture the bravery, physical prowess and skill of the people or animals symbolized and imbue that spirit into the team. The Steelers weren't trying to offend union iron-workers by their choice of names. They were trying to say they admired and wanted to emulate the toughness of the iron-worker.

I don't think the Redskins management was trying to insult Indians. I think they enjoyed the idea that every Thanksgiving, the Redskins would take a shot at defeating the Cowboys. How much fun is that?

I embrace the name "redskin" in the same way I embrace "redneck". Yeah, buddy, I am one and if you don't want me going all warpath (or redneck) on you, you'll treat me with some respect.

If I had a sports team I'd name them "The Nerds" and make them the trickiest, most deviously intelligent team in the league. I'd have a guy with black glasses with tape on the bridge as our symbol. It's a kind of defiance. I wish more people could see it that way. The English Language is one of the best languages in the world for taking words and making them mean what we want them to mean. The best way to neutralize a slur is by making it a source of pride.
The sports world is in an uproar over the name of the Washington Redskins. NFL announcers promise not to use the R-word this season. Some of the tribal leaders have filed suit hoping to collect big on the controversy.

So is "Redskins" a slur? Yep. It was. For some it still is. The jury, as we say, is still out. But if the PC police want to eliminate the name as a racial slur, there is a much better way. Do what Rednecks did. Embrace the slur!

Embracing a slur is the best way I know to silence bigots and racists.

"You stupid redneck!"

"Yeah, and....."

Call me a couch potato and I go out and get a couch potato t-shirt and wear it with pride. You can't use the word "Texan" as a slur (and plenty of people, mostly liberals, have tried). We Texans are proud of who we are. We even named our entire state after a tribe of friendly Native Americans that we admired. They called us Texicans for a while to try and insult us by inferring we were part "Mexican". It did not work. We like our Tex-Mex culture so we didn't mind. Hey, we ARE Texicans. Get over it.

We're also "a bunch of cowboys." The media pundits and diplomatic corps tried to make that word offensive by calling President Reagan a cowboy. Reagan just put on a white hat for the cameras and grinned.

I recognize that some slurs are beyond the pale, but let's save our energies for eliminating those. Personally, I'd like someone to get outraged by musicians calling women b's and h's. People who use those kinds of slurs should lose their record contracts and be shamed out of the public eye. Now that's a political correctness I could get behind.

- Tom

No comments: