August 11, 2005

Follow Up...

You can't compare Native American Tribe names/references to deragotory descriptions of other groups. No organization would ever name their team the "San Francisco Faggots", the "Houston Honkies", or the "New York N*****s." Not because these organizations are sensitive and considerate, but because groups aggregated under these terms have no virtue, honor, courage, etc. that is important as a metaphor or symbol of a sports team.

Conversely, a tribe name, though possibly offensive to some, does invoke some spirit of courage, power, etc. that sports teams want to be associated with. College and Pro sports teams named themselves after Native American tribes to tie themselves to the warrior past of these tribes.

Its kind of pathetic, but after we wiped out the plains indians, and white Americans were safe, we started turning them into heros. Nonetheless, referencing Native American culture as a mascot/nickname is meant as a tribute, regardless of what its denigrated into today. Like Craig said, is the name Seminole in itself offensive? Maybe, maybe not depending on your views. But everyone would agree racial slurs for blacks and homosexulas are offensive--and also--meaningless with respect to symbols sports teams want to be associated with. So its comparing apples and oranges.

Here's a question: Lets say the Oakland Radiers were reanmed the Oakland Zulus and the San Diego Chargers were renamed the San Diego Highlanders. The Zulus had a weird looking black man with a spear and reed shield dancing around his sideline and the Highlanders had a weird looking half naked painted Scotsman with a sword dancing around his sideline. There were never any Higlanders or Zulus in America. So would any of this be offensive?? (Being a decendant of one of these groups doesn't count because they're in a different geographic region).

1 comment:

Laura said...

So, just because you don't think it's offensive to dress someone up like the worst idea of a dime store indian and have them dance around and act like a fool, no one else should either? It's not even necessarily about the name, it's more about the depiction of a people who have been either oppressed or placated and never treated like equals by the invaders who came in, stole their land, killed most of the population and treated them like third hand citizens. To make fun or use for our amusement their traditions is unacceptable.

And no, you're right that we wouldn't use terms like Faggot and Honkie and that was my point exactly. "Redskin" is an offensive term, it's not used amongst white people with the same contempt that it was 100 years ago perhaps, but that's just another insult in a long list that Native Americans have endured. And just because we've decided that now we will hero worship the "noble savage" doesn't give us the right to tell them what they can and cannot find offensive. If an ethnic group has fought a stereotype for the entire history of our country, you might (if you aren't feeling too self-righteous in your status as a poor, abused, middle-class white man) want to give them the right to ask not to be degraded, even if it's not your opinion that they are being degraded. After all, who is in a better position to decide what qualifies as degradation, the one who is degraded or the one who is doing the degrading?

As for Highlanders, or Zulus or Vikings or some other group or tribe as mascots and whether or not that's offensive, wouldn't that depend on how they were depicted? And these are not groups of people who have a history of oppression with the United were saying something about me comparing apples and oranges? Seems like you know a little something about it yourself.