COMMENTARY | The whole kerfuffle over the name of the Washington Redskins seems to have careened from the silly to the surreal, according to the Washington Times. Apparently someone is offended that Army helicopters are named after Native American tribes.
“In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.”
This is not, so far as can be determined, a parody by someone who is poking fun at the hypersensitivity toward the use of Indian names. The author of the piece, Simon Waxman, is in earnest.
“Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality – the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.
“The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.” Like the Little Big Horn, for example.
That would seem to have more than a little odor of racism. Native Americans are quite proud of their warrior tradition and, if they went down before the onslaught of the white man, they went down hard and gave a good account of themselves. Waxman is trying to perpetuate a myth that the first peoples of North America were somehow passive, child-like people who had no role in determining their own fate. This is of some comfort for the guilty white liberal, but doesn’t quite coincide with history.
Army veterans are having none of it, though, commenting rather caustically.
“‘I suspect that the author is less unhappy that our choppers have Indian names, and more unhappy that there is a U.S. military,’ wrote Alex Kuhns.
“Kevin Schooler wrote: ‘What floors me is that for the most part, it isn’t American Indians who are offended. It is guilt-ridden white liberals being offended on their behalf. How’s that for paternalism?’
“Even the website’s moderator weighed in, saying that the names the military chooses for weapons platforms ‘are anything but derogatory, they convey strength, honor, and courage. @SimonWaxman is grossly uninformed.'”
The race baiting purveyors of outrageous outrage need to get a grip. They need to find something real to be irate about. Otherwise they will continue to be the object of well-deserved mockery and derision,