Of Redskins and Red Herrings (Plus Eric Holder On Racism)

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By now you’ve probably heard that the NFL team long known as the Washington Redskins will likely be compelled to change its name soon, thanks to a decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. And reactionaries have reacted as reactionaries always do — ridiculing the move and dishing up a generous serving of red herrings.

A red herring, as you may know, is a decoy, a distraction — an irrelevant matter introduced to divert attention away from the real issue. An excellent example occurs frequently with the topic of abortion. “Pro-life” ideologues devote a great deal of time to discussing whether abortions “should” occur (accompanied by a very strong answer in the negative), which in turn is masked by another debate on when life supposedly begins.  All of which steals focus from the vital question of how to prevent abortion.  All the “pro-life” posturing in the world does nothing to answer this question, and, by all evidence, makes the problem even worse.  (See previous posts: Abortion: the Big Lie and the Inconvenient Truth, Part 1 and Part 2 and ACORNization: the Curious Vendetta Against Planned Parenthood.)

And so it is with the Redskins flap. Ideologues lecture the rest of us about whether Native Americans “should” be distressed over the use of demeaning stereotypes (with a very strong response in the negative). Does it really matter whether you or I believe they should be? (Even if you are Native American yourself, does that entitle you to decide that nobody else should disapprove?) The thing is, they do object, or at least a good many of them do. The real question, then, is whether the rest of us are willing to respect them enough to cease and desist the use of such stereotypes. Some people will go to the ends of the earth to evade such a question, leaving a trail of crimson fishlets as substantial as Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs.

Inevitably, for instance, the reactionaries peg the outrage as an instance of “political correctness” run amok — whatever the hell that means. “Political correctness”, like “liberalism” is one of those things people love to hate but hate to define or clarify. Naturally, then, the two are often lumped together. This whole stink about the Redskins, they say, is just another attempt by them librulz, whoever they are, to wield political correctness, whatever it is, to take away our freedom, somehow or other. Never mind that the USPTO’s decision was the result of numerous complaints, over a period of many years, by Native American advocacy groups with no political affiliation, expressing the sentiments of Native Americans of all ideological persuasions. What’s really important is to apply the “PC” and “L” words to as many people as possible, as frequently as possible.

Is that an acknowledgment that only “liberals” respect people of all races? If so, I can’t buy it. I’ve known many “conservatives” who were also quite respectful. They may be a minority, but there are still plenty of them.

Yet right-wing zealots make it standard procedure to politicize/ polarize just about anything and everything to the Nth degree — even climate, for crap’s sake. And they proclaimed the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case as a victory for “religious freedom” (which, if not itself a red herring, is at least a deep pink mackerel) and a defeat for “liberalism”. As opposed to, say, a slap in the face for women in general whatever their ideology, a religious incursion into government that ultimately is bad news for people of all religious persuasions, and a judicial precedent that will extend the (already quite extensive) imperious reach of the current unscrupulous bench, ultimately having an impact on everyone.

When it comes to encapsulating the reactionary silliness over the Redskins issue, it would be hard to top this commentary called “20 Other ‘Allegedly Offensive’ Team Names That The Left Isn’t Complaining About” by Justen Charters at Independent Journal Review. It wastes no time attributing the dastardly deed to “The Left” and the “PC Police”. And of course to the big bad black guy in The Formerly White House.  Indeed, Charters even links to another article on Independent Journal Review (Should they be required to put a “sic” after Independent?) titled “President Obama is Stripping Washington Redskins Trademarks After Owner Refused to Give Up Team Name”, that begins with this prize paragraph:

This is how the Obama administration rolls. Get in a confrontation with the president, and some IRS branch patent office makes trouble for you. That’s how “community organizers” do business. That’s the Chicago Way.

Never mind that the USPTO made the same decision, later overturned by court interference, in 1999 — which not only was well before Obama was elected, but probably even before he traveled back in time to plant a bogus birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper. Never mind that the USPTO has made many similar rulings for the past 20 years or so. After all, President Obama publicly stated that if he were the team’s owner himself, he would “think about changing” the team’s name. What a severe “confrontation”. What more proof do you need that he must have taken time out from his busy schedule of confiscating your guns and euthanizing your grandma to personally dictate that the Redskins must go.  And those cleverly crossed out words above, of course, are an allusion to the IRS “scandal” we’ve debunked before.

Smears against President Obama, by the way, often not only contain red herrings, but not infrequently illustrate how red herrings differ from, yet neatly dovetail with, straw men, which we’ve discussed before. Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said “Political dissent is NOT racism.” That’s a classic red herring — nobody is suggesting that political dissent IS racism. But it’s an obvious reference to a straw man very popular among sufferers form Obama Derangement Syndrome: the premise that Obama hatred is nothing more than “political dissent”, and to attribute the former in some degree to racism is to attribute the latter entirely to racism,

Political dissent consists of expressing/ demonstrating political differences — not circulating wackadoodle rumors about birth certificates, death panels, Islamic roots, Benghazi cover-ups, IRS conspiracies, faked mass shootings or FEMA concentration camps. Nor does it involve reflexively obstructing, or trying to sue or impeach a president just because you don’t like him — or his politics. Obama hatred goes way way way waaaaaaayyyy beyond political dissent, beyond disagreement with or criticism of the president, even beyond all bounds of sanity.

It may not always be rooted in racism, but quite often racism definitely is at least one factor in play. Yet when Attorney General Eric Holder pointed out this indisputable fact, the wingers seized upon and distorted his comments to push the astronomically false narrative that President Obama — who seldom mentions race (and even then it’s generally to the tune of “let’s get along”) and rarely mentions racism — loves to play the race card. Here are Holder’s allegedly inflammatory words:

There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me and directed at the president. You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.

These comments were almost universally spun — not only on talk radio and in the rightwingnutball blogosphere, but also in the supposedly more centrist mainstream media (aka the librulmedia) as “Eric Holder Says It’s Racist to Disagree With Him and Obama”. Holder said no such thing, of course. (Read it again if you really need to. We’ll wait.) On the contrary, he clearly specified that  he didn’t even consider racism “the main driver” in that “animus”. The winger spin distorting his words actually lends them validation. And provides us with another classic straw man.

But back to the Redskins. The Independent (sic) Journal Review‘s 20 additional mascots are essentially red herrings, and quite often sterling specimens of false equivalence, which is something we’ll be examining in the near future. They include The Toronto Raptors (Fine, marginalize all the people who got scared by the Jurassic Park movies.”) and the BYU Cougars: (“Last time I checked, Provo Utah isn’t famous for middle aged women prowling on young men.”) Nyuk nyuk nyuk,

Okay, okay. So the piece is intended to be cutesy-poo satire. But that’s just it. By listing team names for which outrage would be preposterous, Charters hopes to portray the disapproval of “Redskins” as equally petty and laughable. It isn’t.

Also included among the 20 are the Chicago Blackhawks and the Cleveland Indians. Had Charters done just a smidgen of homework, he might have learned that in fact the Cleveland baseball team has been a frequent target of protests over the years by The Left, or The PC Police, or whoever those guys were with feathers in their hair. And the Blackhawks? Not so much so, but there are several probable reasons.

First, Blackhawk, unlike Redskin, is a perfectly legitimate and respectable designation for a particular group of people, (Indian, though not preferable, is also respectful and respectable enough; the clamor over the Cleveland Indians isn’t because the word itself is inappropriate.) Second, it’s the name of a specific tribe rather than an entire ethnic population. And third, the NHL team wasn’t even named after that tribe in the first place. It was named after a combat unit in World War I, which in turn was named (like the tribe) after a single historic Native American leader.

Interestingly, the Independent (wink wink) Journal Review overlooks or deliberately omits one of the most egregious offenders: the Atlanta Braves, whose fan ritual of intoning a “war chant” and mimicking a tomahawk chop has ruffled the feathers of those ruddy-complexioned PC Police on The Left for years. The article does, however, suggest that monikers like the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Boston Celtics should be regarded as equally tasteless.

Which is not only nonsense, but screaming-out-loud nonsense. Because the Irish/ Keltics do not have the same kind of history in this country that Indians do. On the contrary, they were, to put it bluntly, among the historical white oppressors rather than the Indian and African oppressed. Furthermore, it appears that those team names were chosen by Irish persons themselves. Native Americans, however, did not choose the Indians, the Braves or the Redskins. Which brings us to the real crux of the problem: a long, long history of white Christian males making choices for everyone else — often through the use of barbarically brutal force.

Native Americans were slaughtered like the bison they depended on, driven from their land and stripped of their religions, their languages, their traditions, their lifestyle and their dignity. All bygones, you say? Not really. The aftermath of that ethnic and cultural decimation is still very much with them. Many of them still live on reservations (paleface lingo for “land we have no use for anyway”).  They still have abnormal rates of poverty, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and suicide. Their traditions have been trivialized and their sacred objects have been lampooned by mass-market gewgaws cranked out in Asian sweatshops. And throughout the sordid history of their interaction with Caucasians, they have been portrayed in mainstream pop culture as cardboard stereotypes at best, and quite often as simpleminded, bloodthirsty savages.

Many Native Americans feel that there is a connection between these things — i.e., that how they are perceived and portrayed has a significant impact on how they are treated. And guess what? Many sociologists agree. Is there any reason we should not give this conclusion the benefit of a doubt?

When we speak of the mascot-ization of Indians as being offensive, we don’t mean that it results in “hurt feelings” — another common red herring. We mean that it undermines respect and dignity. Which brings us to the Independent (snicker snicker) Journal Review‘s concluding red herring, perhaps the mother of them all:

Instead, we should be recognizing the idea that names like Redskins and Patriots are ways to honor the legacy of our ancestors, not defile them.

Now if you really believe that Redskin is an honorific appellation on a par with Patriot, you probably don’t have the cognitive faculties to have made it to this point in the discussion. But for those of you still with us, here are some final questions to ponder.

The reactionaries like to cite a poll indicating that 90 percent of Native Americans have no problem with “Redskins”, and other polls indicating that 79 to 89 percent of the general public don’t (the figure I hear most often is 83); do you really believe that more non-Indians than Indians are bothered by the word? Another poll indicates that 56 percent of Americans believe the term is racist; does this mean that 46 percent of Americans (56 times 83) and 50 percent of Native Americans (56 times 90) think racism is hunky-dory?  Since we’ve been making comparisons here, do you really believe that any sports team today would consider naming itself The Los Angeles Spics? The Memphis Niggers? The San Francisco Chinks? The New York Kikes? What about The Honolulu Japs? Why, then, has it taken so long to get rid of “Washington Redskins”? Why do so many people still think Indians are fair game? Why are they so willing to engage in grotesque distortions of reason in order to justify that predilection? Is it just coincidence that, so very very often, they are the same people who indulge in spittle-flecked, head-banging, pants-pooping delirium about the nation’s first dark-skinned president?

34 thoughts on “Of Redskins and Red Herrings (Plus Eric Holder On Racism)

  1. When I grew up, the area I lived in was heavily populated by those of the Finish ethnic and cultural background, and I often heard my (second generation parents) describe how they were the object of some scorn by many other inhabitants of my home town. And although not nearly as persecuted (although occasionally rocks were thrown at them) they had to learn English in school and were required to speak only English during school hours. Well, the thing is that even during my formative years in the 1950’s and 1960’s my parents and our finish neighbors had a habit of reciting “Finnlander jokes,” to one another. These were recited in good nature and a kind of humor that really served to lift us above all the petty judgments of others by showing that we too, could laugh at ourselves and therefore prove that the prejudice of others held no power over us.

    I know that my ancestors never experienced anything as horrible as slavery or systematic extermination by the US government, but still, I think the use of jokes by Finnlanders was meant in a similar way to those of black, or African Americans, who use the N word, and thus minimize the power it previously held over them in days when their ancestors were considered 2nd class citizens without any actual Civil rights at all.

    The point is that, just like we would not have appreciated being the brunt of insulting jokes on a national level, but accepted them within our community and close group of friends, I think black Americans sometimes use the N word in a similar way, but only they have the right to use that word, since the white people who use it have no real understanding of the negativity conveyed by the N word like those among the descendants of slaves, and the victims of the Jim Crow society.

    To me the idea of being politically correct on a personal level, as well as on a nationwide political level, has to do with the simple idea of respecting that, if an individual or a member of a larger religious, ethnic, sexual oriented, or any racial group etc. does not like being referred to in a stereotypical way when someone uses a slang word, or any word that negatively refers to that individual, or to a larger group which that person belongs to, (in a way they consider being detrimental), than by God lets respect those persons or groups and not refer to them in ways that they don’t like! Our parents taught us to be respectful of our seniors, of teachers, of our ministers and to treat our biological brothers and sisters with respect and common consideration–so what is the big hairy deal involved with a simple request from any group, to simply not insult them by labeling them in ways that they don’t like? If you have a cherished friend or even a pleasant every day acquaintance with another person and, he or she asked you to quit referring to them as blubber boy, or thunder thighs, why should you think that this request represents some sort of liberal fascist scheme to prevent you from using any kind of gross, juvenile, rude and insulting term you want to use? If you value this person in any way, shouldn’t you just quit insulting them by using various words and names that offend them?

    What it’s really about is spreading the awareness of respecting others—just because they ask for respect and consideration—not to satisfy some bizarre liberal scheme to censor your God-given 1st Amendment rights to make an ass out of yourself, but from a place of common respect and decency!

    POP I’m glad that you used such outrageous labels including hypothetical teams named, “The Los Angeles Spics, the Memphis Niggers, The San Francisco Chinks, or The Honolulu Japs.” Sometimes it requires some bold satire to make us aware of the cultural biases that we commonly use when judging and demeaning others. One Native American in my own area of the country tried to get fair skinned Americans to be aware of the insensitive and biased nature of the term “redskins,” by asking how white people would feel about a basketball team named the Washington White guys? When we put ourselves in others shoes sometimes we can understand where they are coming from. Likewise, even though my family and our friends were free to laugh about outrageous Finnlander jokes, it would be something entirely difficult if they were heard far and near, from a large number of people coming from other backgrounds, in attempts to denigrate, Finnish heritage.

    No one is preventing anyone from using crude and gross language when describing anyone else, or members of a larger group which that individual belongs to. In private we truly have the freedom to act as ignorant as we want and to show our lack of intelligence by using the N word, the C word, or even the term redskins–the Constitution protects even such rude and crude freedoms. But when we are simply asked to respect the cultural, racial, or ethic dignity of another, (not because of the risk of prison or any other punishments), why the hell is that a problem! The offender, will not be jailed for references that are not meant to incite violence, but hopefully our national consciousness will grow and become a bit more civilized if we simply consider the simple reason for condemning such absurd stereotypes.

    If anyone wants to create the impression that he or she is being persecuted by simply being asked to respect the dignity and humanity of another, that’s their right. But if we all become aware of how inappropriate much of our biased understandings of history are, and, the way we slam other cultural and ethnic group without really understanding their own dignity and heritage, then the concept of political correctness can only edify us all, by causing us to give simple respect and considerations to others— simply because they ask to be treated respectfully and without ignorant bias. How could any of us not feel the same way about our particular place on the tree of cultural heritage, and about our own unique histories? If we want such considerations from others than why not also give those others the same intelligence and respectful considerations back?

  2. The phrase in my comment above:

    “it would be something entirely difficult if they were heard far and near, from a large number of people coming from other backgrounds, in attempts to denigrate, Finnish heritage.”

    Should actually read as:

    “it would be something entirely (different) if they were heard far and near, from a large number of people coming from other backgrounds, in attempts to denigrate, Finnish heritage.”

    I just had to correct myself!

  3. P.O.P., with the Washington Redskins, it is up to them if they want to change their name. I don’t watch NFL that much anymore, because after the 2011 NFL strike, that caused me to lose interest given that the NFL players make millions, more than what most people do, yet go on strike. Some other thoughts to what you wrote regarding American Indian or Native American history, because it is complicated.

    I used repeat politically safe view ‘this land was taken from the American Indians’ but after thinking about it, the topic is more complicated & selectiveness in this critique. Yes, -Wars were used to get land from American Indians or Native Americans. Most Whites are not the original inhabitants except for Solutreans who came during the Ice Age & the # of Solutreans or Solutrians is not much.

    But even many American Indians or Native Americans are not Native in that they got their land by wars against other Native Americans. Incidentally to say an American Indian tribe such as Cherokees own all of USA is like saying China owns all of Asia. But difference between Whites and American Indians is that Whites had better weapons & transportation. Honestly, American Indian tribes would hypothetically have done the same thing if given the chance as when American Indians wanted land, they took it from other Native Americans by wars.

    Aztecs conquered other Indian tribes in Mexico based on science and techonology known to them & Aztecs fighting for this. Incas conquered many other Native American tribes (2,500 miles in South America) in wars based on technology known to them & Incas willing to fight for it. Again American Indians used wars to get land when they wanted it & were proud winners but when they lost the lands by wars, they were sore losers. Here’s an article by John T. Reed who is part Cherokee who critiques the arrogance and selective critique of Native American groups http://johntreed.com/headline/2010/11/24/did-whites-steal-natve-american-land/

    My critique are views of American Indian groups such as A.I.M. in that they have no problem when American Indians killed eachother for land during wars but only complain when American Indians lost their lands in wars. A.I.M. think it’s OK when American Indian tribes such as Aztecs got their land by wars against other tribe and Aztecs (to lesser extent Incas and Mayans) having human sacrifices, but complain about los conquistadores. Selective complaint view by A.I.M. is what I can not accept.

    Not to generalize, but I have found some American Indians arrogant in their thinking by saying what they know is false such as when they say American Indians or Native Americans were Noble Savages who lived in peace and they get offended when you mention that it was not always the case such as Comanche tribes were violent with their practices of killing babies, burning people in stake. Sioux Indians were also violent as were others. I have found that American Indians or Native Americans sometimes get offended when you say ‘Indian massacre’ yet again as in Comanche eg.-burning people and killing babies would be an Indian massacre.

    Idea of waging wars against American Indians was to do things for the interest of Whites, but again American Indians killed eachother to do things for their own interests and the American Indian way was not democracy. You mention ‘slaughtered like bison’ because 1 reason the Comanches were defeated was because so much of their buffalo-their source for food and clothes was over hunted in what is believed to be a strategy to starve them, along with the fact the Whites had better weapons and better military strategy.

    I believe in democracy and oppose discrimination and support = chances for all ethnic groups. If an American Indian has talent to become an engineer, physicist, then they should get the job. If an American Indian commits a crime or is a crime victim, then there must be = justice based on facts and circumstances. I listen to broadcasts by an American Indian Christian woman Linda P. Harvey (part Cherokee) because what she says is right (I’m not Christian but I like what she says) and she has critiqued the political safeness on the part of American Indian groups.

    But complaining about what happened in the 1800s and blaming what happened in past for todays problems is dumb. Slavery’s wrong but I’m not going to complain about something which was abolished long ago. People who are drunkards and junkies got that way because they chose to get drunk, high. The American Indians who are drunkards, junkies chose to get drunk, high and it’s dumb to blame the 1800s for what’s happening today is wrong. Anyhow, I’ve thought about this. Truth about American Indians and Europeans is that both sides used wars and there was greed on both sides. Yet American Indians groups such as A.I.M. only condemn when the Whites did it but think it’s OK when American Indians did it to eachother and I can’t accept that view.

    • Abner,

      Of course American Indians were no strangers to warfare and slaughter, which obviously included many tribal conflicts. But one reason they may be offended by phrases such as Indian “massacres,” is that most of these attacks were done as a direct result of the American military’s attempts to destroy Indian tribes and their natural desires to live on their traditional lands and continue their ways of life. So, to them what we may call a massacre originating with their aggression, was often merely an attempt to defend themselves against encroaching American troops.

      As far as any people having a just right to expect political correctness that is sensitive to their own self-interests—being involved in previous warfare, or taking aggressive actions against other tribes is irrelevant. i.e. the German forces during World Wars one and two, killed countless of their enemies and undoubtedly had a history of violent aggression amongst themselves. However, if any German citizen or American citizen of German dissent, objects to being called a “Krauts,” there is no reason why anyone should refuse to honor such a request— because it doesn’t flatter German heritage, and has absolutely no relevance in regards to the generations of German Americans, or those who share real German ethnic heritage.

      • Peter W. Johnson, if it is a soldier killing another solider in a war, then unless it is killing a POW, it would not be a massacre. Soldiers sent to a war fight for what they believe. With Indian wars, Lieut. Col. George Armstrong Custer was doing his job as a soldier whether 1 agrees or differ with him & the Indian soldiers he fought against were doing their job as soldiers. Lieut. Colonel George Armstrong Custer never asked his soldiers to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself as he went to the front lines as he did in Battle of Little Big Horn (Greasy Grass River) where he and his men died in combat. Unless there were killing of POW who had surrendered, that would not be a massacre as it’s a soldier killing another soldier in combat.

        But a massacre is when you kill children who did nothing wrong, rape and kill the enemies women and kill POWs such as burning them in stakes. When the Sioux in MN in the 1860s killed teachers (who taught Sioux children), ministers (who were trying to help the Sioux to see that they get treated fairly) and children only because the children are White, then that is an Indian massacre. American Indian Movement can be offended by calling that an Indian massacre but they are offended by truth. Whatever wrong happened, there is no excuse for those atrocities because those atrocities are evil.

        1 excuse Native Americans (actually ½ Native American) have said when discussing Native Americans killing others in wars (such as Aztec wars against other Native Americans) is that it’s brothers killing other brothers. No, Native American tribal wars did not go into other continents while the conquest of Native Americans by Europeans did such as los conquistadores. But the idea is the same. Aztecs, Incas, Sioux, Comanches are tribes who got powerful by winning wars against many neighbors and brothers before they lost to the Whites and the Comanches and Sioux were the last American Indian tribes to be defeated.

        Native Americans fight wars against their neighbors because that tribe wanted to be best and did so based on technology known to them. Hypothetically, if American Indians had technology such as ships for transport and advanced weapons to conquer other continents, they would have done so and to deny this is dishonest. Any1 has potential to become greedy if given the chance. When American Indians or Native Americans wanted land, they waged wars against other Native Americans to get their land. But when American Indians lost their land in wars, then the complaints about ‘stolen land’, though much of the land they had they used wars to win this from other tribes. Again both sides had greed.

        In Asia, Japan’s military during late 1800s to their defeat in WW2 fought wars against many Asian nations such as China (Japan’s brother) which resulted in millons of deaths. So the excuse ‘it’s brothers killing brothers’ is weak because the idea is the same-American Indians did things for their own interests and Europeans did things for their own interests. I like peace and I would not have wanted to live during the time of Indian wars or colonialism. I would not have wanted to live in Mexico during time of Aztec sacrifices and I would not have wanted to live during the 1800s . I would rather live in peace as the U.S. has had in the United States (not talking about 2 World Wars, Korea and Vietnam) with the exception of 911.

        What matters what’s happening today. I believe in democracy, so the ideas of colonialism does not apply. I believe in democracy and oppose discrimination and support = chances for all ethnic groups. If an American Indian has talent to become an engineer, physicist, then they should get the job. If an American Indian commits a crime or is a crime victim, then there must be = justice based on facts and circumstances. I listen to broadcasts by an American Indian Christian woman Linda P. Harvey (part Cherokee) because what she says is right (I’m not Christian but I like what she says) and she has critiqued the political safeness on the part of American Indian groups. Native Americans have and must have = rights as other ethnic groups. But complaining about what happened in the 1800s and blaming what happened in past for todays problems is dumb.

      • Abner,

        I appreciate all your input, but when I use the word, “massacre” I’m referring to the definition in my Webster’s Dictionary: (1.The killing of many persons under cruel and atrocious circumstances. 2. A whole sale slaughter). To me its seems that being a POW has nothing to do with it. When armies of American soldiers fought with Indian warriors, if one side killed a very large number of the others, with very few of its own casualties, that qualifies as a massacre.

        The truth is that there were many instances that American troops fired on and killed Indian Men, Women and Children, as they were trying to flee, and the schools that you mention, forcefully took Indian children from their parents (usually from many miles away) and tried to destroy everything unique to their culture. Not only were children denied the right to speak their native languages, but they were actually punished severely when they were caught doing so! One can say that the people who ran the schools had good intentions, but they were acting according to their own ethnocentric values and gave the Indians little freedom to express their own, while forcing their own values down their throats.

        When talking about why Indians may have been offended by words like (massacre), it doesn’t matter if various tribes had engaged in warfare before Custer’s last stand. From the viewpoint of Native Americans, what they did there was probably seen as an act of defense against violent aggression perpetrated at the hands of American soldiers. So, similarly, if Jews had managed to rise up and kill those who ran Nazi death camps during WWII, would they have been accused of committing a massacre even though their attack was motivated by wanting to defend themselves against annihilation?

        We can talk and argue about who has the right to use word massacre, but my point was only that, seen from the viewpoint of the Indians who killed Custer’s soldiers, what they did was probably seen only as an action taken for the purpose of self defense.

        It is also erroneous to think that any group of people who have engaged in past warfare, including with American soldiers, has no right to be offended when being accused of committing massacres, or currently, be offended by the word (Redskins) used to name a professional sports team. As the POP pointed out, the teams also have the right not to change their name, but my understanding about the words political correctness, is not that it is used to make laws that prohibit using certain terms. But rather that, when any person or group expresses offense at a certain term or phrase, then we should be willing to listen to their complaints, and perhaps VOLUNTARILY, refrain from using such words and phrases.

        Again if the Redskins are renamed, it takes very little effort or sacrifice to do so. So, if the team owners wanted to respect the wishes of Native Americans, if would take very little effort for them to comply. There are probably issues about tradition and name recognition that helps promote the team, that the owners would have a right to raise, but that’s entirely another thing. Political correctness to me, is just the willingness to listen to others and accept their rights to complain–whether their requests are ultimately honored or not!

    • Thank you for bringing to my attention another red herring I should have included: that the Washington NFL team has a right to decide their own name. Of course they do. Nobody is saying otherwise. They have exercised that right, and nobody has stopped them. What people have tried to do is discourage them from using a disparaging name. People have a right to do that too. That’s what the USPTO did when it denied a trademark to the name — which it also has a right to do.

  4. P.O.P. something new to add as it is similar to the Native American topic. On another blog, I replied to an Indian Hindu who was complaining about India being under British and colonialism which ended in 1947. Here’s what I told that man and though it’s in another nation, I’ll explain how I would answer an American Indian or Native American who complains about past. This is what I told the Indian Hindu. Yes, Whites did things for their own benefit but once a dispute is over, it is over. There is no need for the Portuguese, British and other Europeans to apologize for colonizing India because 1947 Independence (India), 1954 Pondicherry and 1961 Goa makes all disputes a moot point. Let the British honor Queen Victoria and let the Portuguese honor St. Francis Xavier and Vasco da Gama. They are not disputes anymore.

    If you wonder why I’m not bashing White Christians though I’m not Christian, it’s because it’s wrong for Hindus to send their kids to Christian schools and then turn around and say how evil the Christians are. I went to a British school when I was 11 to 14 years old (almost 2.5 years) from 1981 to 1984 when I lived in Madrid Spain-King’s College. It’s wrong to ask White Christians for help such as education, jobs and then to turn around and say how bad they are.

    Yes, the British, Portuguese did what they wanted to for their own benefit. But that is history and not happening now. Rather than complain about how life was during colonialism, it’s best to enjoy the independence 1 has. Now I can understand the conflicts between Indian Hindus and Muslims because that has happened for hundreds of years and still happening, though I don’t go to extreme. I can understand the India-China dispute, but it is useless to complain about something once a dispute is over. It is wrong to bash Whites yet have no problem sending Hindu kids to Christian schools to be educated by the very Christian whites you bash because of disputes which ended so long ago.

    As you see P.O.P., that is how I replied to the Indian Hindu. Rather than complain about how colonialism was, celebrate the democracy and independence you have. Incidentally with China, I have been there. Chinese people are fine and their culture is interesting. But the politics of China is wrong. Now how it relates to Native Americans here is that we hear lectures by American Indians or Native Americans about how land was stolen and their lectures against Christians. I think that Native Americans rather than complain about 1800s, should instead celebrate the democracy & freedom we have in the U.S. because what is past is past.

    When American Indians or Native Americans wanted land, they waged wars against other Native Americans to get their land. But when American Indians lost their land in wars, then the complaints about ‘stolen land’, though much of the land they had they used wars to win this from other tribes. But that is past. What does get old is to sometimes see Native Americans take help from Christians but then rather than thank the White Christians for giving them jobs, education, etc. to turn around and bash them. If you saw the 2002 movie Windtalkers (Navajo codebreakers during WW2 in Japan), they do a scene where a Navajo soldier condemns Catholic nuns who educated him. Hollywood as known has an anti-Christian bias but it’s wrong for this Navajo to as a boy go to a Catholic school to be educated by nuns and then years later during WW2 bash the nuns who helped him by making up a story on how the nuns tied him up (I didn’t believe it happened).

    • Abner,

      It’s really not up to anyone else to tell Native Americans that they should let bygones be bygones and forgive and forget. The American settlers who took their land, did so with great greed and by using nearly every form of insult and injury you can imagine. Many American Indians feel that their very culture was stolen from them and in the past. And, whenever the US government designated an area as their official “Reservation,” they usually gave them the most barren and hostile areas to inhabit—unless of course something like gold or silver was later discovered on that land—then the US government promptly kicked them off of that land and replaced it with even more barren and climatically severe areas. Once when a group of Native Americans complained about not having enough blankets to keep warm (sorry that I cannot remember the specific details at this time) they were given blankets that had knowingly been taken from victims of Malaria! So, soon the disease spread in their populations and killed hundreds of Native American men, women and children.

      If any downtrodden group, has the strength and grace to live and let live after such extreme persecution, then that’s fine for them, but, only they can decide to “bury the hatchet,” which I believe is another slang phrase taken from Native American cultures. But in the meantime, I see nothing wrong with honoring the wishes of any person or any culture that complains about words or phrases they find personally demeaning, and, then agreeing not to use such offending words or terminology out of simple human respect.

      If anyone objects to being called a spic, a chink, or a gook, for example, who am I to insist on using such denigrating terms anyway? To me political correctness, is just another way of saying that we should all have the good sense and integrity not to insult certain people, or groups of people, by using offensive terms. If you or I have a friend who objects to being called fat, or ugly, and we continue to use those terms anyway, we can hardly be expected to be honored as true friends. The same should go for simple things like not naming certain teams with denigrating slang references that are offensive to anyone’s own culture or their heritage. If we can’t do something as simple as that, we certainly shouldn’t be offended by the same type of callousness from others–after we use the words, “queer, fag, fruit, or gay cocksucker!”—just because certain people don’t like those names!

      It doesn’t really take any effort at all to honor a person or group, by agreeing not to use objectionable terminology when describing them. No one’s freedoms are being denied by simply being considerate in that way, and, the only type of freedom that is denied to the offending party, is the freedom to be as big a jerk as that person wants to be!

      • Peter W. Johnson, yes there was greed but there was greed but American Indians were not Noble Savages for reasons already given-some tribes had cannibalism, a few had human sacrifices and the Native American way of life was violent with tribal wars and so on. While you’re right that colonialism is not democracy, American Indian societies were not democratic and I would not have wanted to live in an American Indian society with high mortality rates, violence and so on. Hollywood movies can show American Indians to be Noble Savages such as Pocahontas (1995), Squanto (1994) or to some extent Dances With Wolves (1990) but in reality American Indian tribes lived with high mortality, violence as in the 2006 movie Apocalypto which dealt with Mayan sacrifices and violence in Mesoamerica.

        Truth about American Indians and Europeans is that there was greed on both sides. Any1 has potential to become greedy if given the chance. When American Indians or Native Americans wanted land, they waged wars against other Native Americans to get their land. But when American Indians lost their land in wars, then the complaints about ‘stolen land’, though much of the land they had they used wars to win this from other tribes. Yet American Indians groups such as A.I.M. only condemn when the Whites did it but think it’s OK when American Indians did it and I can’t accept that view. The views of A.I.M. is arrogant and best to be discarded because it is selective.

        As to not being up to us to tell Native Americans to let bygones be bygones because of what happened in 1800s, I think we do have a right to tell them that whether they like it or not. If injustices are happening to Native Americans today, then that is wrong but what happened in 1800s is irrelevant to what is happening now. American Indians for a long time have = rights as any other American. The reservation topic has long been a moot point because they can live anywhere they want to be it on reservation or outside if they wish. Again, I believe in democracy which means = rights for all ethnic groups and no special rights. Incidentally, I don’t believe Germans born after WW2 should have to ask forgiveness for Holocaust because it’s not their fault what their parents did.

      • Abner,

        I am aware that some Indian Tribes were greedy and even callously ignored their environments. Still others practiced gruesome rituals that demanded the sacrifice of human life. But as you say, that did all happen in the past, and is now over. But let’s also consider that many Indian tribes really were in tune with nature, and didn’t want to be at war, and besides, what any Native American group did in the past is irrelevant—Firstly because no one tribe is representative of all Native Americans. And, secondly because Indians who do NOT practice barbaric rituals now, want to make us aware of how they are being misrepresented TODAY, in the here and now!

        And, here and now, many people are unaware of Native Americans true heritage and unaware that words have meanings, which sometimes offend those they describe, by using stereotypical or negative terms!

        If you want to discuss the civilized ways that we Americans have, don’t forget that we regularly tortured prisoners of war, in Iraq, and in outside “detention” centers like Guantanamo. Many “detainees,” are still detained there despite the fact that there is virtually no evidence that implicates them as being terrorists. And, under Bush many people were striped of any legal rights to due process, and were not even informed about what they were being held for. Torture was routinely practiced by the very people (us), who traditionally claim not to condone it! We shipped our prisoners to other countries just to avoid and disguise our own culpability!

        If you have seen the film (Ten years a Slave), you should also have a good idea of how we “civilized” Americans systematically enslaved and tortured millions of Africans against their will. Even Christopher Columbus, tortured and killed Native Americans who resisted his authority!

        So, lets not get caught up in a contest of determining which culture is the worst and which one does the most barbaric things. Unfortunately historical occurrences like these are found throughout the histories of any and all cultures, who mistakenly pat themselves on the back, while they are not really being civilized anyway. And since, as you say, now is the only time that matters, then we should listen NOW to attempts made by Native Americans to let us know how they view things like being called (redskins,) as well as many other slang terms that misrepresent their cultures and histories.

        There is no law that will force anyone to change the name of their sports teams, and no one will go to jail just by using outdated or crude terms when describing others. However, the way I see it, political correctness is not a demand, nor is it a law. That means that those who make us aware of these undesirable words and phrases are merely asking us to respect their wishes—just like someone else might ask you or I NOT to talk cheeky to their wives or parents!

        The final test about what is offensive comes, by definition, from those who are offended, and it takes no effort at all for us to respect their wishes. If you or I call someone’s dad a big fat dummy, or call their mother a whore, no one is going to arrest you for what you say, but if we want to be friends with the persons we slight, then we should respect their feelings about addressing them correctly. If a Jew Doesn’t want to be called a kike, or an Indian (from India) doesn’t want to be called a coolie, or a Mexican doesn’t want be called a spic, we as civilized people should simply respect their wishes. It takes us absolutely no effort of loss of freedoms simply to respect the dignity of others!

        As a sort of footnote,

        When someone is living in poverty they usually cannot just leave their surroundings and go live elsewhere. Even those living in inner city ghettos cannot afford to live in the more affluent suburbs that may be only a few miles away. Indians who have lived on Reservations for decades, also cannot just get up and move to a less impoverished area. All of that takes sufficient ways and means—like enough money to leave and vehicles to transport valued possessions, furniture, and cooking stoves. It also require money needed to set oneself up at a new location and the assurance that one will be able to pay living expenses at that new location. And, for what its worth, Native Americans who live on Reservations are among the most downtrodden and impoverished people in the world–rivaling those who live in squalid conditions in third world countries! Other countries trap people in poverty also—even in India, when the Caste system may define someone as belonging to the “Untouchable,” caste, there is absolutely nothing they can do to earn more, or improve the basic qualities of their lives.

        Overcoming poverty require real help and respect given to the group needing that help. In that sense, honoring terms and phrases that are considered politically (correct), shows such people that they are not inferior and are worthy of the same respect and dignity as anyone else—just by virtue of being human! Judging another culture by applying one’s own cultural values and practices, almost always prevents us from really understanding what their lives are all about!

  5. Peter W. Johnson, with the Redskins as I don’t watch NFL that much anymore after the 2011 strike, I don’t care 1 way or another. With your Nazi eg., if Jews who surived concentration camps had killed Nazi guards, then it would be revenge and not a massacre. But if Jewish concentration camp survivors decided to kill a person only because he or she is German such as let’s say kill German children, then that would be a massacre because the kids are innocent even if the dad was a concentration camp guard. Incidentally, the biggest Holocaust happened in the former U.S.S.R., the Holodomor and some of Stalin’s henchmen such as Lazar Kaganovitch were Jewish, but yes, difference between Hitler and Stalin is that Stalin’s henchmen did not do their deeds because of Judaism while the Nazis did their deeds because they believed Germany’s the best.

    But getting back to Native Americans, yes Peter W. Johnson, there was ethnocentric views by imposing culture on Native Americans. With Indian wars, in most cases, soldiers did not kill American Indian women and children-sure there were incidents where that happened but most soldiers just did their jobs and women and children were usually spared. While some though not all of the teachers were ethnocentric in their teaching, their intentions are good in that they wanted the Sioux children who they were teaching to be treated fairly. Also these teachers and ministers did what they could to see the American Indian (in this case Sioux) were treated fairly, so I wouldn’t say that they were all ethnocentric. When Sioux killed the teachers, ministers and children who did nothing to them, there’s no excuse for that and that is an Indian massacre. With the MN massacre, the cavalry took military action and 392 American Indians were tried and sentenced to death. There were ministers who asked that the lives be spared. President Lincoln commuted most of the sentences & only those who were convicted of serious crimes such as murder and 38 were executed by hanging. So even in 1860s, the U.S. legal system saw to it that the American Indians who were accused of the Indian massacre in MN get a fair trial, appeal and those who were proven to be guilty of serious crimes were executed.

    • Abner,

      I agree that some of the teachers in charge of Native American children were undoubtedly good people who were full of good intentions, but unfortunately those “good intentions,” often were voiced as the belief that the children needed to be forced to conform completely to American culture. But, that should not have been an excuse to suppress their own cultural identity so severely. I also believe that religious people, are notorious for thinking that only they know what is good for others and probably viewed minding the kids in their school with an iron hand, as a way to drive the “devil,” out of them. There are still survivors of such government schools, and those whose own parents, endured the virtuous “compassion,” of culturally biased educators. Yes, many groups have been persecuted or abused over time, but it doesn’t matter if you or I actually give a damn about the Redskin’s, because they are merely used as one example of the callousness that we may exhibit merely because we know very little about how the other’s cultures, the other religions, the other race, or how any other groups feels about their history and heritage as well as why certain things may offend them by misrepresenting their cultural identities. We shouldn’t cloud this issue by deciding whether one group is better than the other, or which one doesn’t deserve consideration, rather, we only need to be aware of the points of view of others who now express anger over being stereo-typed. And if we don’t want certain words of phrases falsely used to portray our cultural histories, then we simply should respect the same feelings in others. We are not talking about a legal or universal moral imperative, we are just talking about plain old good manners to use when we associate with others–either individually or, as a part of a larger society!

      I used the example of Jewish POW’s in Nazi death camps rising up in rebellion to illustrate that sometimes massive aggression, can be a response to a long history of persecution at the hands of others. So those who have been abused by others (in this case abused by Nazis) may justifiable consider their attempts to fight back as a defensive action needed to save their own people–even if they have virtually wiped out every last one of their enemies in the process. This may not have anything to do with revenge—but rather, just the need to survive! And, as far as what a massacre is and isn’t, I will still consider Webster;s dictionary an appropriate authority when it defines, “massacre,” as, the killing of many people under cruel or atrocious circumstances. And, by definition, when almost all of the enemy is wiped out, in any battles, cruel and atrocious ways, have been used. But the Native Americans who killed Custer’s troops may have been offended by the term Massacre, while trying to defend against those who were destroying both themselves and their way of life. You and I don’t have to even care one bit about any of this, but it is still any culture’s feelings about what is appropriate, or politically correct that matters!

      To help us see it through their eyes, consider a basketball or football team called the Washington white Guys, or a team from the country of India called the Calcutta Coolies? Even if these names are not consciously used in order to offend, and even if those on any team don’t care one way or the other, the fact is someones else does! So, honoring their viewpoints is all we need do. We don’t have to change a single one of our preconceptions, except perhaps to believe that when another person or group tells us they are offended, then they must know why they feel that way, and we should voluntarily consider changing the words and terms we use so as not to offend.

      It’s not about who is most virtuous, or even who has a more logical justification for complaining—It’s simply about being polite to others and being wiling not to offend them—even if we, ourselves, consider the entire issue little more than silly!

      I think the reactionary response from so many people who are simply asked to honor someone else’s cultural values or treat them in a way that conveys respect, has been blown out of all rational importance. If you ask me not to use a slang cultural phrase as a put-down, then why in the Hell shouldn’t I comply? Its not like the fate of all mankind is at stake, or that anyone’s freedoms are being take away? When your parents taught you to be polite, wasn’t it conveyed to you that good manners are just simple ways to be considerate of others? To make it into some burning issue on the part of people who, for some reason are offended if they are asked not to call women “bitches,” or to refrain from swearing at and/or disrespecting someone else family, is just a given social grace—not the end of the world! And in fact, is something very easy to do. Instead we are carrying on like spoiled children in a sandbox, fighting over who has the best name or who deserves to be the boss? Political correctness is not a power play designed to enslave our minds–its just plain and simply a call for us to be considerate of the wishes of others–that is absolutely all there is too it!

      Abner, I wish I shared your belief in the good behavior of early American missionaries and the civilized quality of the American cavalry soldiers who defeated various Indian tribes. I think massacres and acts of utter carnage, were carried out by the American government far more often than you think. And, while I can’t recall many specific examples, which I have heard, I would suggest that you read, “I Will Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” if you really want to take a good look through the eyes of a Native American concerning how his or her people were treated historically, as well as in person!

  6. There has been controversy over Christopher Columbus, with accusations of him being greedy with gold, but Mission America’s Linda P. Harvey who is Cherokee has defended Columbus Day & truth is that what Christopher Columbus motives along with that of his bros. Bartolome and Diego (he would later become a priests) were, only they knew. The late Prof. W.H. Carroll and anthropologist Carol L. Delaney (Stanford) have said that Christopher Columbus asked Spain to send good Christians and that Christopher Columbus forbade marauding and atrocities. But many of the people who were sent to the New World were convicted criminals, sometimes death row inmates. Christopher Columbus did not want the administrator job given that he and his brothers were Italian, the sailors and soldiers often went against orders Columbus and his brother Bartolome gave. Christopher Columbus said in his diaries that he wanted things to be done like this but his sailors and soldiers did differently.

    Now while 1 can discard or debate hundreds of years later the sincerity of what Christopher Columbus wrote in his diary, again only he knew. Columbus and his 2 brothers are thousands of miles away in another land, having to deal with mutiny threats, diseases and warring Indians. 1 could conclude that Columbus and his 2 brothers believed they could not stop the people (who disregarded their orders) from doing what they were doing had to go along with it by pacifying the people they were in charge of until help came from Spain & that we do not know the fear, or other things if they did not go along-but again, only they knew their motives. With Columbus Day, if people do not want to celebrate Columbus Day, then it is their right but let people who want to celebrate Columbus Day celebrate this day.

    It’s likely the Native Americans who Christopher Columbus discovered were not the original people. We know the history from 1492 onwards in that both the Tainos and Caribs were fighting each other for land, but we don’t know what the history was before 1492, as we don’t know who was there in 1482, 1472, etc. We don’t know how long the Caribs and Tainos or Arawaks were there, how much of the land was originally theirs and whether there were other tribes living there before who were killed or expelled. It’s possible that in 1462, there were other Natives living there before the Caribs and Tainos drove them out either by war or threat of war-after that the territory fighting left was between the Caribs and Tainos.

    What it means is that if there was a tribe of 200 people, the larger tribe could threaten the smaller tribe with war, that tribe leaves and dies because they didn’t find enough food, etc. Neither Tainos nor Canibs had written language, this wasn’t recorded in their history, if this happened. So it’s possible others could’ve been living there before the Tainos and Caribs were there, before they were killed or expelled by both Tainos and Caribs and that after that the fighting was left between the Arawaks (Tainos) & Caribs. If this is true, then the Tainos and Canibs would not be the original inhabitants, the original inhabitants would be those who were there before them.

    25% of Native Americans have European DNA-there were 30,000 Solutreans (though this # is disputed) who came from Europe to the Americas during the Ice Age. Some American Indian art has pictures of people with blonde hair blue eyes. In Aztec art, 1 God Quetzalcoatl has a full grown beard and when Hernan Cortez conquered, he was thought as a God who would return from the east. As American Indians did not grow beards, it can be concluded that Aztecs had contact with Solutreans. The Solutreans are believed to have gone extinct either by wars or they mixed.

    • Abner,

      All your information about Columbus and Carol Delaney’s opinions about him, are interesting indeed. However, they are not the last word on the subject, nor are they etched in Stone. Here is what one learned man said about Delaney’s accounts of Columbus. They also are taken out of Columbus’s journal and concern his views on slavery:

      “The last question above is about Columbus’s view towards slavery, and Delany avoids that question by saying that Columbus didn’t have slaves, and that in any case in those days slavery was acceptable. But Howard Zinn presents evidence of Columbus’s actual views in Columbus’s own words:”

      They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
      ***
      As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.
      ***

      Now questions about Columbus are open to debate, but the organization named “The Knights of Columbus,” fully endorses Delaney’s account, as would be expected from an organization with that name. However, Howard Zinn makes it clear that the issue is far from being settled and that Columbus may indeed, not only have condoned slavery, but may have been among the first Europeans to own them.

      My view Abner, is that whatever the case, there is a great deal of information that makes Columbus look very culpable as a slave trader and a tyrant. For that reason, I don’t fault Native American groups for objecting to a holiday that honors him. The whole situation is similar to a case where Jewish Citizens in Germany might be faced with a national Holiday that honored and praised Hitler. Of course Hitler ultimately didn’t win and the facts about Columbus may be much more unclear, but I don’t think its necessary to discount the feelings of many Native Americans who question Columbus’s qualifications as a hero, and whether a national holiday should be set aside honor him.

      Whatever the truth turns out to be, I don’t think Columbus day is going anywhere soon, since it is a well entrenched part of our culture and will probably remain that way for a long time. But don’t fault Native Americans for making their feelings known—we all have the right to question authorities and to engage in various forms of dissent. Political correctness is just a concept that calls on us to be more sensitive to the viewpoints of others, and, not necessarily, who is really right or wrong. The point is that all people should be given a chance to complain about injustices and make the case that their objections actually contain a great deal of sense. As I said, it’s not always about who is right or wrong, and then determining who (deserves) the right to be respected—none of us will be jailed for disagreeing or agreeing about opinions on that either. But I believe it makes for a very constructive public discourse to simply give others a chance to defend their feelings and complain about anything they feel does not reflect accurately on their own histories and/or heritages.

  7. Peter W. Johnson, again I used to be politically safe on the American Indian topic & while it’s true that wars were used to get land from American Indians, the problem is that there is selective critique and hypocrisy on this. To groups such as American Indian Movement, using wars to get land is OK when American Indians won but when American Indians lost their land in wars, then the complaints about ‘stolen land’. The views of A.I.M. is arrogant because it is selective.

    The problem with discussions of American Indian history be it Hollywood movies like Pocahontas (1995) or even movies with indirect references to Native Americans such as Avatar (2009 which shows the Navi blue people implied as Native Americans to be nature lovers destroyed by what is implied to be Europeans) is that they are selective in trying to show Native Americans to be nature people who lived in peace until Europeans arrived. Native Americans were not environmentalists and they have found that many species had gone extinct long before 1492. Though I don’t have cable TV anymore, the History Channel is ideological on the Native American topic when they talk of how poorly the Native Americans were treated yet omit how poorly Native Americans treated eachother & omit atrocities Native Americans committed.

    That is the problem with Native American history-it gets ideological when historians omits violent lives Native Americans lived & then getting offended when you say Indian massacre & the History Channel does this. There has even been controversy when Solutreans are raised- Solutreans or Solutrians came from Europe to the Americas during the Ice Age. Discovery Channel in 2004 did a program on Solutreans called Ice Age Columbus and the Solutrian theory has been condemned by saying it’s racist and so on. Yes, the # of Solutreans or Solutrians is small. Was it 30,000, 10,000 or less? I don’t know. But there is pre-Columbian Native American art which shows White people and they have found mummified remains of Europeans. So we do know that there were Solutreans @ 1 time living in the Americas thousands of years ago, though the # is small.

    What I will say again with Native American history is if historians say that wars were used to get land from Native Americans & that Whites did things for their own interests, then that is right. But for historians to make Native Americans to be Noble Savages who lived in peace is dishonest esp. when they omit the violent lives Native Americans lived. Native American societies were not democracies-they were violent.

    • Abner,

      The point I make and which you seem not to hear, is that political correctness is not something any group owns or is denied because of its virtues or for being right or wrong—its simply an attempt to establish the right of every group to be treated in the ways they desire, and not be described with words that are subjectively insulting to them. We don’t need to subject any culture to a historical litmus test to see if it has a right to complain. The fact is that some groups do differ, and have every right to say so. Likewise you or I won’t be arrested if we differ with them. The whole issue doesn’t deserve anywhere near the fuss, muss and controversy, stirred up by those who feel considering others is an affront to their freedom—no laws will convict them if they disagree with Native Americans or any other group. No laws will convict anyone who doesn’t agree! Everyone also has the right to disagree with the many politically correct antagonists who don’t like the idea!

  8. Abner,

    Earlier when I recommended the book, “I Will Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” I was in error. The Actual name of the book was simply, “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” It was years ago that I read parts of it, so I guess forgetting the actual title was to be expected. Not all tribes were perfect or spiritual angels, but in general, many were shamefully screwed by the US government. And, although this is past history that is over, the need for Native Americans to tell their story as it happened, remains part of a natural concern.

    Very few of the rest of us, even blinked when we heard the name “Washington Redskins” but to Native Americans, it is just important for them to convey how names like this oversimplify their collective persona and misrepresent history. Here is a link to a long Wikipedia article about the book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bury_My_Heart_at_Wounded_Knee#Historical_Context

  9. Yes, Christopher Columbus allowed slavery. Slavery @ that time was practiced worldwide and many Native Americans had slavery. Did Columbus allow slavery as a way to pacify those he was in charge of as they disregarded him? Again, only Christopher Columbus & his 2 brothers knew their motives as Columbus did ask Spain to send good Christians but instead many convicted criminals including death row inmates who had their sentences commuted were sent and they disregarded him and his 2 brothers. I would not compare him to Hitler but he was not a good administrator and had said that he didn’t want the job.

    In the 16th Century years after Columbus’s discovery, Spain and Portugal would colonize Iberoamerica with Portugal having Brazil and Spain having 19 other Iberomerica nations be whether it’s los conquistadores taking Mexico (Mexico became independent in 1521) conquering the Aztecs, Francisco Pizarro conquering the Incas, and other nations. Yes, that was done for Spain and Portugal’s benefit. Before los conquistadores, Aztecs, Incas & other tribes did things for their own benefit from the 14th to 16th centuries as Aztecs and Incas created their empire by conquering others and imposing their will on others.

    Peter W. Johnson, I support free will to not celebrate Columbus Day. But if people especially European Christians such as Italians and Spaniards want to celebrate Columbus Day or which in Iberoamerica is called el dia de la hispanidad (la fiesta nacional de espana in Spain), then I will support their free will to celebrate this day. It’s the same way as I support people’s free will to celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas. If people do not want to celebrate these days, then it is their right not to, but let’s allow free will for those who want to celebrate them.

  10. Peter W. Johnson, you’re right that culture, language was imposed on Native Americans or American Indians. Colonization of Iberoamerica by Spain and Portugal in the 1500s would be imposing culture, including religion (Christianity) on Native Americans. Same thing in the U.S.A. and Canada. But the problem Peter W. Johnson, is again the selective critique. To groups such as American Indian Movement, using wars to get land is OK when American Indians won but when American Indians lost their land in wars, then the complaints about ‘stolen land’. The views of A.I.M. is arrogant because it is selective. Might makes right is fine as long as you win, but might is wrong when you lose and this is arrogant and hypocritical.

    Yes, European Christians imposed their will on American Indians. I am against this as I believe in democracy and free will. Will imposing went both ways- American Indians or Native Americans imposed their will on others but this is often omitted. American Indians sometimes kidnapped girls and women to take them as their wives. The last Comanche war chief Quanah Parker’s mom (who was White) was kidnapped when she was 9 years old by a Comanche. That would be an eg. of American Indians imposing their will on others. The Sioux imposed their will on the Crow and Arokira tribes when Sioux defeated them in wars including willing children to take the land. Sioux again were the last Indian tribes to be defeated around 1890-14 years after Custer’s last stand.

    There was will imposition by both sides. That’s wrong, but my critique is again selectiveness. Again Peter W. Johnson, I used to talk about how badly we treated the American Indians in taking their land & I even accused people of being racists as Nancy G. McLernan did in the link you gave until understanding the topic is complicated and the selective critique. Nancy G. McLernan’s critique is selective. Nancy G. McLernan is a feminist, yet Nancy G. McLernan did not speak against American Indian tribes such as Comanches of kidnapping girls and women to take them as wives. Nancy G. McLernan looked the other way on that 1. I will say again if historians say that wars were used to get land from Native Americans & that Whites did things for their own interests, then that is right. But for historians to make Native Americans to be Noble Savages who lived in peace is dishonest esp. when they omit the violent lives Native Americans lived. Native American societies were not democracies.

    • Abner,

      My concern about your Criticisms is that, you seem to be using the past cultural aggregations of Native Americans against other Native Americans, to imply that none of them have a right to complain about injustices done to them by white Americans from 100 to 150 years ago. What that kind of judgement is it that implies that, because a group of people fail to have a history as pure as the driven snow, then they have no right to complain about historical injustices, and how they affect the way they are falsely perceived and portrayed today?

      I still think that the history of Germany could be a prime example, in that, no matter what the checkered historical and military past involving crimes done against others by Germany, that does not give us the right to think that if we refer to Germans today as nothing but “krauts,” this term is not going to offend the millions of modern day American descendants who originated in Germany–as well it should be expected to!

      To me, its obviously that the concept of political correctness, is just a call for civility on the part of all members of society, to not treat the cultural identifies of others in ways that demean or cast an unnecessary and false light, on their histories and/or their collective identities—in ways that do not accurately represent members of that group.

      Political correctness is not an attempt to police the opinions of anyone to conform to a given standard—its just a way to remind us all of how other ethic groups and cultures can be misrepresented by the way they are stereo-typically portrayed in the present—that’s all!

  11. By your own reasoning, since only Christopher Columbus knew his feelings about slavery then why don’t we quite arguing that Native Americans are not justified when condemning him, and instead, just consider their own viewpoints as being one of many viewpoints that are valid to consider.

    When we set aside a National Holiday, we do not require anyone to observe it or not, but the idea is to understand how certain groups of people feel about whether Columbus really was a hero? With Christmas, we have no evidence that Jesus, was evil or sought to demean entire cultural and ethnic groups. And, the Thanksgiving Holiday certainly offends no one, especially Native Americans, since it symbolizes a unity between the Natives who helped the Pilgrims survive, and the generosity of the Pilgrims who invited them all to share in the bounty of their feast.

    I doubt Columbus Day will ever be repealed like a bad law, but I certainly respect the rights of any group which wants to express their anger about someone who they believe really deserves no praise, or to be celebrated as a hero!

    Part of Democracy is honoring the rights of all to have divergent views, and not feel that those views must be validated by all of us.

    As I have said, no one is going to be arrested for disagreeing with Native Americans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have every right to bring a completely different version of history to our attention!

  12. Peter W. Johnson, again I used to talk about how badly we treated the American Indians in taking their land & I even accused people of being racists if they saw differently (without knowing what other side was) until understanding the topic is complicated and the selective critique. You are right Peter W. Johnson, that culture was imposed on Native Americans by Europeans but again, it went both ways as Native Americans also imposed their cultures on others when given a chance. I don’t believe Europeans should impose culture on Native Americans or American Indians & I also don’t believe Native Americans or American Indians should impose their culture on others. I support democracy & = chances for all ethnic groups be they Europeans, Native Americans, etc.

    It’s Native American free speech right to complain & people have a free speech right to show the selectiveness in the complain & or even say why they think Native Americans have no right to complain. Eg. let’s say I have a house and you take my house by force. Later, some1 more powerful takes that house you took from me by force & then you complain about how your house was stolen. Native American history complaints are the same in that Tribe A has their land, Tribe B takes the land from Tribe A by war. After this happened, Europeans takes land from Tribe B by war and Tribe B complains about stolen land. To American Indian Movement, might is right when Native Americans won their lands by wars but might is wrong when Native Americans lost their lands by wars. That is proud winner/sore loser arrogance of A.I.M.

    Filmmaker Quentin J. Tarantino (Pulp Fiction is the only movie I saw by him) has done interviews where he lectures about how badly Native Americans were treated & though he is mostly White (Italian and Irish) & only 25% American Indian (Cherokee), filmmaker Quentin Jerome Tarantino passes himself off as American Indian. Yes, it’s Mr. Tarantino’s free speech right to say this and people have a free speech right to critique him and show his selectiveness. It is noted how people who are only part American Indian try to pass themselves off as American Indian as though they are full Native American as filmmaker Quentin J. Tarantino did. Incidentally filmmaker Quentin J. Tarantino has used drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy & possibly filmmaker Mr. Tarantino thinks of himself as American Indian because American Indians are more likely to be drug junkies with higher rates of drugs as Quentin Jerome Tarantino’s done his share of drugs by his admission.

    Another eg. would be actor Johnny Depp (John Christopher Depp), though he is mostly European & part Native American, Mr. Johnny Depp (John Christopher Depp) passes himself off as American Indian and was awarded this http://www.reznetnews.org/article/comanche-tribe-makes-johnny-depp-honorary-member I didn’t see the movie Lone Ranger (have no interest to) which Mr. Depp starred in but that movie tries to pass Native Americans in this case Comanche off as Noble Savages when truth is this
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2396760/How-Comanche-Indians-butchered-babies-roasted-enemies-alive.html

    Peter W. Johnson, again I support people’s free speech rights, I support democracy and = rights for all ethnic groups. American Indians or Native Americans must be treated fairly as all other groups. I also believe that there must be honesty in discussing Native American history, though Hollywood filmmakers and actors say differently as shown in the link.

    • Abner,

      As I have said many times before, Native Americans don’t have a spotless history when it comes to mistreatment of other cultures, including other Native American Cultures that they fought and went to war with. However, that’s no reason to claim that any culture doesn’t deserve the chance to educate others about erroneous portrayals of its history—especially when their cultural virtues are part of that history, and when cultural persecution was also involved. So let me say it once more: That kind requirement for a spotless cultural record, would mean that we should have no qualms about calling modern day German citizens Krauts, or claim that they are all still just ugly and violent Nazi’s. The same reasoning can be applied to calling the Japanese people Japs! And, once more, I use these examples only to illustrate why political correctness should have nothing to do with you or I deciding which culture has “earned,” our respect i.e. No matter what the violent history of Germany or Japan may be, it would still be wrong to call them all Nazi’s or Japs, or referring to them all as Krauts or Japs in today’s world! You and I also do have the perfect right to agree or disagree, but the concept of political correctness merely points out why it is inappropriate to stereotype different groups of people by using slang or deleterious terms to describe them. Again, I said INAPPROPRIATE, not illegal, or unconstitutional!

      Another example would be if you (and I don’t know if this is true since your ethnic background may include India), came to America from an Arabic country, and I insisted on saying that all people of Arabic origins like you, are nothing but violent, or anti-christian monsters! And, if I used detrimental terminology to refer to Arabic people that way, it would be politically incorrect—(translation Not too cool), to do that!

      Again If I referred to all people with your possible ethnic, or religious roots, as all being Sheikhs, or Muslim fanatics, I would have a right to do that, but, by simply pointing out how inappropriate it is to use of such terms, even if It would be perfectly acceptable to me, from my own viewpoint to believe that there is nothing wrong with doing so!. And, although such words ARE protected under my First Amendment rights, what I don’t understand is why so many people are offended just by suggesting that politically correct terminology should be used to describe people of various backgrounds? Again, I don’t know if yours might be really be an Indian heritage (the country). But why is even pointing out that these stereotypes and slang words may not be appropriate, offensive to so many people? This is true even if (like America) Muslims have some very violent historical eras in their histories. A group’s past is just no reason to misrepresent their cultures today, and to not listen to the reasons that they might want to complain about the way they are portrayed in the mainstream culture?

      That’s all the more I will say about this matter, because once again, it would apparently be like beating a dead horse to try and get you to ever understand!

      • Abner,

        I’ve decided that the cruel deviates who call themselves ISIS prove that Muslims as a whole are nothing but butchering slaughtering fanatical madmen. Therefore why not call them all, (Muslims) sinister Sheikhs or Islamic butchers. Their video proves that they are, don’t they?

        I will not listen to any of them who claim I am misrepresenting the mentality of hundreds of millions of other Muslims, and, if they complain about my disrespectful language, I’ll tell them all to rent a room at Guantanamo! None of them deserves any respects—-so why should this sort of attitude cause people to feel angry about such blatant misrepresentation of a very large majority of Muslims? Why should I respect any Muslim at all–they are all blood sucking Anti–Christs!

        None of the above is permissible or true if one decides to honor political correctness. I hope you get my point! Without at least bringing false characterizations to the fore, We really would know next to nothing about how other cultures are. other than that our own is by far the best!

  13. Hopefully my final thoughts on this. I oppose the Aztec & Inca human sacrifices and I oppose violence which Native Americans did in the Americas. I also oppose Europeans imposing culture & religion on Native Americans and I oppose el sistema de las castas which existed in Iberoamerica. I believe again in democracy and all must be treated fairly which means no colonialism, no discrimination and no . Aztecs, Incas and all Native Americans must be treated with fairness and must not be discriminated against. Europeans must be treated with fairness and must not be discriminated against. In fact, all ethnic groups must be treated with fairness and must not be discriminated against.

    If historians say that wars were used to get land from Native Americans & that Whites did things for their own interests, then yes that is what happened. But for historians to make Native Americans to be Noble Savages who lived in peace is dishonest esp. when they omit the violent lives Native Americans lived. Native American societies were not democracies & colonialism, culture/language imposed on Native Americans by Europeans were not democracies. I don’t believe Europeans should impose culture on Native Americans & I also don’t believe Native Americans or American Indians should impose their culture on others. I don’t think anybody should impose their beliefs on others unless it’s forbidding mayhem, murder or other harmful conduct. Past wrongs are history and what matters is what is happening today.

    • Abner,

      That’s all very good and true, but it has little to do with the idea that all cultures should be referred to in ways that respect their wishes concerning matters of group identify and heritage. We all know that the Washington (redskins) are not expected to change their names legally, but the question is, if we should respect their wishes just because they say that they are offended?

      From the beginning it has been my contention that yes, any culture of ethnic group deserves to have their wishes about them honored. And, this simple consideration should NOT depend on whether there were violent episodes in their histories.

      All cultures have committed atrocities, but the Native Americans who are complaining about being typecast as “redskins,” today, are not committing atrocities! And the historical fact that some tribes have all been involved in violent episodes in the past, should also make no difference! If that were the case, then German’s, Japanese, and even Americans, would not deserve to be regarded with any political correctness, since all of their countries have pasts riddled with cases of their own self–perpetrated violence. That, in addition to the fact that the Comanches are not representative of all Native American tribes, means that political correctness should not be denied to any of the many various early American tribes known collectively as, (Native Americans)!

      That’s all I have been trying to say, but I feel you are just are not getting my point.

      • POP,

        I mean the boxes that indicate if I want to be made aware of any follow up comments by email and/or be notified if any new posts are made, via email.

        I may be wrong but I checked both of them at the end of a recent post, and before the post was complete, it looked like one of the check marks I had made was suddenly not there and did not register. This is important if I want to stay on top of any new posts that are made, or which respond to mine.

        Essentially no biggie, but I thought I should mention it.

      • Thanks. I suspect it’s just a problem with your browser, as I haven’t made any changes. Or it may be a glitch at WordPress. I recently had a problem of having to go through several steps to approve comments because the option to approve did not appear directly below the comments as it should. But it’s cleared up now.

  14. This will be my last post on this site about Columbus. While Professor Carol L. Delaney and the late Prof. W.H. Carroll (Christendom) don’t know all the answers, those who do mock trials of Columbus and the late Howard Zinn (didn’t read his book but know about him) also doesn’t know all the answers. With Christopher Columbus, the soldiers and sailors who were under his command were often convicted criminals including death row inmates who had their sentences commuted for freedom. The soldiers and sailors sometimes did bad things. I know about slavery, tribute system which Columbus allowed. Did Columbus allow this as a way to pacify those he was in charge of as they disregarded him? Again, only Christopher Columbus & his 2 brothers knew their motives as Columbus did ask Spain to send good Christians but instead many convicted criminals including death row inmates who had their sentences commuted were sent and they disregarded him and his 2 brothers.

    Historians can say that he allowed this but what they can’t know arewhat his motives were & those who have done mock trials of Columbus don’t know the answers regarding Columbus’s motives. While I don’t always agree with the Catholic Church, I don’t believe Christian leaders especially the Catholic Church would defend Columbus if they believed he was a tyrant. Christians (especially Catholics) have said that he & his brothers were in other lands thousands of miles away and the soldiers and sailors who were with them were hostile to them that they allowed this to pacify those who they were in charge of. That is why on Christopher Columbus and his brothers, only they knew their motives.

    Historians also sometimes get ideological & dishonest when they say the Tainos were peaceful. Both the Caribs and Tainos fought eachother for land, Caribs & to a lesser extent the Tainos both practiced cannibalism. Also both the Tainos and Caribs sometimes kidnapped women and girls to take as wives. Both the Tainos and Caribs lived violent lives so it wasn’t Eden’s Garden. The rest of what I will say on this is copy&paste as there’s nothing new to be added.

    Mission America’s Linda P. Harvey who is Cherokee has defended Columbus Day & truth is that what Christopher Columbus motives along with that of his bros. Bartolome and Diego (he would later become a priests) were, only they knew. The late Prof. W.H. Carroll and anthropologist Carol L. Delaney (Stanford) have said that Christopher Columbus asked Spain to send good Christians and that Christopher Columbus forbade marauding and atrocities. But many of the people who were sent to the New World were convicted criminals, sometimes death row inmates. Christopher Columbus did not want the administrator job given that he and his brothers were Italian, the sailors and soldiers often went against orders Columbus and his brother Bartolome gave. Christopher Columbus said in his diaries that he wanted things to be done like this but his sailors and soldiers did differently.

    Now while 1 can discard or debate hundreds of years later the sincerity of what Christopher Columbus wrote in his diary, again only he knew. Columbus and his 2 brothers are thousands of miles away in another land, having to deal with mutiny threats, diseases and warring Indians. 1 could conclude that Columbus and his 2 brothers believed they could not stop the people (who disregarded their orders) from doing what they were doing had to go along with it by pacifying the people they were in charge of until help came from Spain & that we do not know the fear, or other things if they did not go along-but again, only they knew their motives.

    It’s likely the Native Americans who Christopher Columbus discovered were not the original people. We know the history from 1492 in that both the Tainos and Caribs were fighting each other for land, but we don’t know what the history was before 1492, as we don’t know who was there in 1482, 1472, etc. We don’t know how long the Caribs and Tainos or Arawaks were there, how much of the land was originally theirs and whether there were other tribes living there before who were killed or expelled. It’s possible that in 1462, there were other Natives living there before the Caribs and Tainos drove them out either by war or threat of war-after that the territory fighting left was between the Caribs and Tainos. If this is true, then the Tainos and Canibs would not be the original inhabitants, the original inhabitants would be those who were there before them.

    I support free will to not celebrate Columbus Day. But if people especially European Christians such as Italians and Spaniards want to celebrate Columbus Day or which in Iberoamerica is called el dia de la hispanidad (la fiesta nacional de espana in Spain), then I will support their free will to celebrate this day. It’s the same way as I support people’s free will to celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas. If people do not want to celebrate these days, then it is their right not to, but let’s allow free will for those who want to celebrate them.

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