Redskins and Suburban Racism

AP REDSKINS PACKERS FOOTBALL S FBN USA WISure, it’ll probably be quite some time (sadly) until the Washington Redskins drop the racist moniker, but last week in Ottawa, the Nepean Redskins (one of our minor football teams) decided – with a bit of pressure – to finally drop the name. It took two years, a Human Rights complaint a lot of bad press, but the club finally did the right thing.

In The Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, I argued that the team made the right decision and that it was a good thing that issue never found its way at a tribunal hearing:

His cause was just, but his method was imperfect. Campeau, in essence, was threatening to bring the weight of the government down on this minor football club. A seemingly heavy action for a team that could not cause significant material harm to anyone. They were not the vanguard of Canadian intolerance.

But to suggest that the use of the name would harm absolutely no one is naïve. Canada has a wretched history regarding the treatment of the Native population. An Ojibwa, Ian Campeau has, no doubt, experienced both subtle and overt racism throughout his life. It is his wish to minimize such experiences for his daughter, and thus his crusade.

It may have been unsavoury, and it certainly wasn’t his initial course of action, but only the official complaint elicited a response from the Redskins.

I am glad to live in a city where, in the end, this sort of crap just won’t fly. Hopefully, that other capital city will soon follow suit.

And as a bonus, let’s go in the way-back machine to Jay Adler’s guest post
on issue here at the League.$

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297 thoughts on “Redskins and Suburban Racism

    • Yeah, just call anything you don’t like “PC,” and that’s a sufficient criticism. Who cares about basic decency toward others? That’s not a conservative value, is it?

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    • Nobody hates Political Correctness more than I do. But here’s the deal: what do the adults do when a child is being called a racist name on the playground?

      To me, the whole idea of the European Cultures having much to do with the native peoples of North America is stupid. They always get it wrong. Either they’re glorifying the native people or they’re running them down. These people aren’t cliches. Their cultures were damned near eradicated. Haven’t we done enough damage to these people?

      I don’t care what we call Washington. Lone Star Dietz said he was a Sioux. He wasn’t. He’d been impersonating native people his whole life and went to his grave saying he was a Sioux. His legacy is coining the name Boston Redskins, later the Washington Redskins. Lone Star Dietz was no more a Bona Fried Redskin than the man in the moon.

      High time everyone else quit holding onto this faker’s moniker for the team as if it was Holy Writ. Putting aside the whole issue of the native people either disliking it or simply not caring, I’d get rid of the name because Lone Star Dietz is no more a goddamn Injun than some lump of pinewood in front of a cigar store.

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      • I’ve known a fair numbet of Native Americans in my day. One of my best days at a job was the day in Yellowstone when Charley Rising Sun and I switched name tags, and all day I had tourists staring at me trying to figure out if I was really an Indian. It was a great opportunity to walk in another person’s shoes for a little bit. Of course I might be too white to be an Indian, exceot I new a girl who was physically whiter than me, but was definitely Native American…and in part because of her whiteness stolen off the rez by the social worker and given to a white family to raise. It emotionally fucked her up, of course.

        You bet I see them as individuals, not just a mascot or a savage, noble or otherwise. Here’s a ood rule of thumb, IMO: if a strong majority of a group says a particular nickname for their group is racist, it’s probably best to view it as racist. And if peopke of group not-X say it’s not racist, well they’re not really the ones in a position to say, are they?

        To me, claims that this is about political correctness are just white tribalism.

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    • The trouble with a term like “Political Correctness” is that its very vague. At one end of the spectrum, it just means “don’t be an asshole” and at the other it means “never do or say anything of substance lest it offend someone”. The real question is which end of the spectrum is this closer to?

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      • The problem with Political Correctness is this: PC believes problems are solved by applying a different word and not a different attitude when describing a class of persons. The obvious, enlightened view of these things, not that I’ve gotten a soul to agree with me here, which only goes to show how stupid the whole thing has become — is to treat people as individuals and not as a class of persons. Be done with the entire classification.

        The respectful questions, the only ones worth asking is : “What is your name? Will you sit with me a moment and teach me to pronounce it correctly?”

        Most native peoples in the USA are known by exonyms, the names outsiders and their enemies gave them. The Osage, the nation I’ve had the most contact with, call themselves Niukonska. Not very hard to pronounce, nee-oo-kohn-skah. Their enemies called them Wazhazhe or Wozhazhe and they’ll call themselves that from time to time. The French, who encountered them first, spelled it Osage, oh-za-zhe. The Americans saw it and said “Oh-sage” And the name stuck.

        So who are these people and what do they want to be called? I use the formal Niukonska. They like that. The Sioux people, same story, no accident it has a French spelling, their enemies called them Nadouessioux, a smallish pit viper, the mississauga. Not a very nice name at all. They call themselves Dakota, Nakota and Lakota. Not hard to get it right. They like that. Shows respect.

        Political Correctness doesn’t bother with any of the preciseness of linguistics. It doesn’t ask what people want to be called because that would mean taking off the nimbus of Enlightened Liberator and getting down into the nitty-gritty of these people’s lives. Though Frederick Douglass used the word Negro, we may not use that word, oh no. Never you mind that the PC Crowd condescends to these people in their hubris and ignorance, they get to win the Big Vocabulary Wars and paste a new label on the same ignorant classifications-by-race-and tribe — brush off their hands on their pants and walk away contented.

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      • PC doesn’t believe anything, because PC is terminology not a person.

        Frankly, PC is basically just an attack these days — generally used as a counter-attack by people who got called out for being giant dicks.

        “Oh, SORRY. Didn’t know saying [insert racist/sexist term here] was gonna bring the PC police down on my head!”.

        9 times out of 10, when I hear the term “PC” it’s coming from someone who doesn’t like the flack he or she just got from being a dick to someone else. It reminds me an AWFUL lot of the idiots who post troll-bait crap on websites, then scream about how their first amendment rights are being violated when their comments are moderated out.

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      • PC is an attack which goes both ways. I’m sick of being hectored by a collection of schoolmarmish dolts, for years now, since the 60’s and all this Consciousness Raising. If I pick up that same club and beat someone over the head with it, all these decades later (and I will continue to do so) just think of it as Consciousness Raising.

        Deal?

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      • The point, Blaise, is I actually don’t HEAR anyone attacking people for “political correctness” and haven’t for, oh, 15 years. At least. What I do hear are, basically, bigots and sexists getting smacked down for being bigotted or sexist and claiming they’re being attacked by the “PC” police.

        The ones I’ve witnessed personally? All older, white gentlemen who have not yet grasped that society has taken to frowning on things like “assuming the women who work for or with you are all secretaries” and “assuming you can slap a woman’s rear at work and comment on her chest and that’ll be fine” and then moving onto the sort of casual racism many — but not all — of the boomers have slowly realized is no longer acceptable.

        So you say “PC” and you know what I immediately visualize? A 50-something white manager complaining that he just complimented a subordinate and was suddenly in trouble with HR. (When the compliment in question was “Your ass looks GREAT in those pants!” followed by an invitation to go out for dinner).

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      • Oh I dunno. I see it round these parts most every day. I say “Let’s quit using racial terms altogether, they’re an artifact of ignorance.”

        You tell me what kind of response I’ve gotten. Tell me again PC isn’t still in vogue and I’ll just laugh at you. The faces change, the masks remain the same.

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      • According to LeeEsq, the term originated with the Stalinists and the Comitern in the 1930s and originally meant “correct by fiat*.”

        I usually mean it to be “Don’t be an asshole”

        *The silly version would be correct because a small Italian car says it is correct. Correct by Fiat (TM).

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      • The term Politically Correct has always been used sarcastically. Folks, I’ve read and listened to these hectoring types for many years now. They never quite Get It. The feminist movement was a fine thing, still is, for all that.

        What did the feminists want, really? To be taken seriously, to be treated as equals.

        What did the black power movement want? To form up a viable basis to push back against the segregationists. To empower themselves.

        What did the LGBT movement want? To be treated as equals.

        At no time, and I’ve been listening to this for a very long time, have I ever heard serious advocates for equality say they wanted any special status, anything beyond the rights due them as Americans and human beings, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. It’s been their enemies who have routinely and viciously put words in their mouths, we hear it from Justice Scalia to this day, saying they want some special status for themselves. They just don’t.

        So why don’t people of goodwill, the advocates for equality — give up these absurd classifications? I’ve never gotten a good answer to that.

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  2. The old thing that made sense to me was to ask “are Native Americans upset about this or are we dealing with a bunch of people who are being offended on behalf of Native Americans?”

    Now I’m pretty much thinking that it doesn’t matter what Native Americans think. We should just change the name of the team. We owe them that much.

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    • I don’t think it matters much what Native Americans think.

      In some ways, this parallels the nigger/nigga debate and who can say what.

      At this point, when white folks start to complain about rappers saying ‘nigga’ and how they can’t say ‘nigger’, I say, “Do you want to say nigger? Do you? If so, say it. No one is saying you can’t… only that you shouldn’t.” They never take me up on the offer. Surprisingly.

      Snyder can call his team whatever he wants. Why he’d choose to call it that? Well, sheesh… if the shoe fits…

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      • And to make clearer my connection to what JB said… if people, regardless of their race, know that they shouldn’t call people “Redskins”, then they shouldn’t call people “Redskins”. Full stop.

        Does anyone actually think it appropriate to call people “Redskins”? If not, then just stop doing it. Don’t wait for someone to complain. Just stop doing something you know to be wrong.

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      • Underming what I said previously about having said mine, I will say this: What they think matters. Not what they think about whether or not they can use it, but whether or not they think we should use it. If we’re offended on their behalf, but they’re not actually offended, I’d argue that we’re being condescending and to an extent their own views about the appropriate use of their own culture is being usurped.

        Where it does get tricky, though, is that some are offended and some are not. Estimates differ on what the proportions are. But either way, I think it matters.

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      • Will,

        What I mean is that I’m not offended by the use of the term, but I choose not to use it because I know of it’s ugly past and present. If I hear someone say “Redskin” or “Nigger” or “Kyke” or any other such ugly word, it doesn’t “ouch” me; rather, I recognize it as the expression of hate and ugliness that it is. I object on those grounds. I object to hate and ugliness.

        JB,

        I understand he didn’t choose it originally, but he can change it any time he wants. Every day he wakes up with the opportunity to change it and every day he opts not to. And has vowed never to change it. It wasn’t exactly forced upon him against his will.

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      • But if the targeted group is itself not offended, and presumably does not find it ugly (neither the word nor the use of the word as a team name) it doesn’t strike you as problematic to override their feelings on the matter with your own?

        I say this without disagreeing with your perspective entirely. At least as far as the Redskins are concerned. But I have difficulty with the notion that I personally cringe a bit, and can’t bring myself to root for the NFL team nearest to me, if a strong majority of them have no problem with it.

        This is only complicated somewhat by the fact that these polls themselves tend to be a bit all over the place. So I don’t have a strong idea of what the general perception is. But if the polls are saying 80-90% aren’t offended, don’t find it ugly, etc are correct… I have to think that matters more than my own opinion on the matter.

        Also, a correction of what I previously said: Obviously, what they think about whether they can use it obviously is relevant, albeit not pertinent in the question of the Washington Redskins. Unless they take the view that “they” and “we” are the same and therefore the Washington football team can use it for the same reason that Red Mesa High School (an overwhelmingly Indian school) can, then that’s relevant too. I shoudn’t have suggested that they cannot view an NFL team as “we.”

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      • If I may craft a hypothetical…

        Imagine tomorrow America woke up to find a coalition representing every person with Native American blood declaring that not only did they not find Redskin offensive, but they considered being called as such to be the highest honor one could bestow upon them.

        Would you walk up to your Native American neighbor and say, “Good morning, Redskin”?

        I think I’d struggle with that. At least at first. And would probably be wrong to.

        Of course, that isn’t really what we’re discussing, but I think it gets at what you’re saying… and gives me pause for reflection.

        But in our more real world scenario, I would say the response of Native Americans wouldn’t matter if it were in the “indifferent” or “bigger fish to fry” camp. If there was still an acknowledgement that the term itself is wrong but that they just didn’t really care about the football team. If they really did see it as an honorific… well, yea… that certainly matters. I was off base to disregard that possibility.

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      • So we change the name. Suggestions? I’m thinking that warrior imagery is likely to turn around and bite us on the butt more likely than not so we should avoid stuff like “the Highlanders” or “the Hun” or something. Animal names are good, probably… unless we pick something that’s going to go extinct. No Rhinos or Pink Dolphins.

        Natural Phenomenae? Sure, calling a team a “Hurricane” might sound like a good idea until a city gets hit.

        So maybe man-made stuff. Inventions… but generic names. Nothing that is already subject to copyright.

        So something that demonstrates power, ingenuity, and has ties with some quintessentially American industries.

        The “Engines”.

        I don’t see how anyone could possibly complain.

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      • Senators, Generals, Minutemen, etc.etc.

        And I think the problem with the whole “you’re being condescending” is that there’s plenty of Native American groups who do find it pretty insulting to be reduced to mascots.

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      • To tie a couple things together, what really stumps me is the North Dakota thing. We know precisely why North Dakota decided on the Sioux. They were the Flickertails, but Flickertails did not inspire. Their rivals (North Dakota State) were the Bison. So… what’s the primary enemy of Bison?

        UND does not use a name like the Redskins. They do not have a logo like Cleveland’s. They have (had) a really striking and sleek logo. Designed by a member of the tribe.

        Now there are two Sioux tribes in the state. One hates, hates, hates the name and appealed to the NCAA to make them drop the name. The other loves, loves, loves it and went to court to try to prevent UND from having to change its mascot. Neither side is right, neither side is wrong.

        To add to it, this: Let’s say that they want the motiff of a Buffalo-hunter and they come up with a name stripped of Indian connotations. The team is now the Marksmen (and Markswomen). A cowboy-ish figure. Same basic concept, except we have replaced an Indian protagonist with a white dude and are considering it progress. Which is kind of goofy, in its own way. And in most contexts would be problematic.

        But just as its wrong to impose discomfort with the name on the approving Sioux tribe, it is also wrong to impose that problematic thing (whitewashing minority iconography) to people that want it to happen.

        I have my opinions, but it’s really hard for me to look at this situation and see it as cut-and-dried.

        (Which is why, in my selfish heart of hearts, I kind of wish/hope that they do take offense at Redskins. That makes it much more simple.)

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      • And I think the problem with the whole “you’re being condescending” is that there’s plenty of Native American groups who do find it pretty insulting to be reduced to mascots.

        Sure. And those points-of-view matter, too. I’m not saying it’s condescending to take the view that the mascot needs to be changed. I’m saying that it’s condescending to say that their opinions on the matter (even those we disagree with) shouldn’t be a very important factor. Heck, even if you disagree with the majority of them – say you think that Utah needs to find a new mascot because some minority of Utes object to it – that’s fine, too, as long as we acknowledge that you’re speaking for yourself and a minority of the tribe.

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      • Will,

        Do you mean if one native person isn’t upset by the term, then it isn’t offensive? Surely not. I get the sense that it is largely regarded as a slur to call someone a Redskin.

        Others (maybe JB) seem to have some fallacious slippery slope worry in mind: “If we ban racist names, then what about things that might offend animal lovers or hurrican victims, etc. until no name is acceptable.”

        Look, there is a line between offensive and inoffensive. Some names will get close to it, but Redskins is so far over it it is a hair’s breadth from the Washington Whores, Indiana Darkies, Phoenix Squaws, and the Minneapolis 9/11-was-a-good-thing-believers.

        Though, at least the Washington Whores would relate to the primary employer in that town, like the Pittsburgh Steelers or Edmonton Oilers. :)

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      • Shazbot, you misunderstand my criticism. It’s more of the idea that you’re doing this on behalf of your own moral sensibilities/outrage with little thought given to the desires of those in whose name you’re doing it.

        Kazzy put it best: “I don’t think it matters much what Native Americans think.”

        I suspect that Native Americans are perfectly aware of this attitude.

        The outrage that we’re pretending is on behalf of Native Americans is really our own. And it doesn’t matter much what Native Americans think.

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      • Shaz,

        If not one Native American is offended, then I have a hard time calling it offensive to Native Americans. Now, we can say “But it’s offensive to us!” Which it can be. But if that’s the case, we should be clear for whom this is being done. And as a member of “us” I would likely oppose the change on the grounds of offensiveness, but that’s a value call.

        (Obviously, the name is offensive to an above-zero number of Amerindians. I’m not claiming otherwise. I am merely arguing that the degree to which we find it offensive should hinge primarily on their attitudes and not ours. The name “Redskins” may make me uncomfortable, but it isn’t about me.)

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      • What are the arguments against changing the name? Or in favor of keeping the name? I understand there is an economic argument, but I’m not sure A) that has been demonstrated to be true and B) I think the moral argument would trump it. Is there a moral argument in favor of the name? Is it just the “We’re not denigrating them, we’re honoring them?” Or is there more to it?

        Put slightly differently: If the Washington football franchise (and Cleveland baseball franchise and Atlanta baseball franchise and KC football franchise, etc.) were currently without mascots entirely and were told to choose one by the end of 2013, would any of them choose what they currently have? If not, why not? And how does that inform what they ought to do?

        Sometimes we present things as if the status quo just is. But that isn’t really the case. The status quo is selected and defended and repeatedly chosen for. As I said above, the team is called the Redskins not because of some ages-ago decision that needs to be actively unmade versus passively accepted. Every day Dan Snyder wakes up with the opportunity to change the name. Every single day he has that decision. And every day, every single day, Dan Snyder makes an active choice not to do that. He doesn’t just wake up and happen to own a team called the Redskins. He wakes up and is given the choice, “Redskins or something else?” and he chooses Redskins. Each and every time.

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      • Pretending, eh? Having real live people of Native American descent tell me they find the name offensive leads to…pretending?

        By all means, let’s tackle the big issues, too? What’s your proposal? I mean, in a country where it’s still acceptable to casually refer to group X with a racial slur, how exactly do you intend to build political support for effective responses to the big problems?

        If you’re going to sneer at this is she’s insignificance, then surely you have some solid proposals, right? Because you’re not the kind of guy who just sit back and shits on every effort without proposing something better–more real-world effective–are you?

        Truly I think it’s admirable that you’re not the kind of white person who rushes to object every time a minority feels offended. Those folks suck. But are they really worse than the white person who tries to tell minorities what their real concerns are?

        But, hey, sneer at me for standing up for people I’ve called friends, by all means. With any luck, I might start refusing to do so, and shift to smugly setting them straight about their real concerns. Win-win!

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      • Having real live people of Native American descent tell me they find the name offensive leads to…pretending?

        Not at all. I’m sure that having real live people of Native American descent tell you that they find the name offensive leads you to the conclusion you’re at now.

        Out of curiosity, are they about as “of Native American descent” as I am?

        But are they really worse than the white person who tries to tell minorities what their real concerns are?

        Why not be one of those white people who asks what their real concerns are and, if it comes out that the poll says that 90% don’t care an 9% do that that should be cause for reflection rather than for comparisons to the 1950s?

        Then again, you have people of Native American descent telling you how offensive they find the team name. That’s, like, real live data right there. I’m not surprised that you take this as moral call to action rather than something trivial.

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      • I’m not talking about the white woman nicknamed ‘Cherokee’ because she’s 1/64th. I mean people who are enrolled tribal members, sometimes people who still know the language.

        And you’re right. I don’t tell them their concerns are trivial, based on a simgle dubious 20 year old poll. I’m not that guy.

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      • And you’re right. I don’t tell them their concerns are trivial, based on a simgle dubious 20 year old poll. I’m not that guy.

        If they have those concerns, then they’re obviously not trivial. You’re obviously *NOT* coming at this from a “this is based on people I know, rather than on an idea I have of them”.

        (That said, I don’t know what makes the poll “dubious”.)

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      • Relatively small sample, collected over a long period of time (a full year). It’s unclear whether the survey was calling just landlines or whether cell phone users were in the sample as well. Although Annenberg is a respected polling agency and not given to shenanigans, writing good survey questions is tricky, and I can’t find what Annenberg’s questions were to evaluate them.

        Finally, and most important, I don’t know how they identified Native Americans. I give a lot less credence to the guy who says “my great grand-mother was a Cherokee” than I do to the person who is an enrolled tribal member and active in Native American organizations. If a substantial number of the people answering this survey question were people who are culturally white, identified as white by most people who know them, and have little to no actual cultural links to their Native American ancestry, then I don’t think it’s meaningful. (E.g., I’m fully half Swiss German, but I can’t pretend to speak as a Swiss German person to Swiss German concerns.)

        Also noticeable, more educated respondents were more likely to oppose the name than less educated respondents. Given that we’ve done such a good job of providing shitty education for Native Americans, it’s hard to avoid a sense that there’s an element of “keep ’em stupid so they don’t know we’re insulting them” here.

        I have to correct myself though. The poll is only about 10 years old, not 20.

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    • Gee, Jaybird, since when did it become a bad thing to stand with others? I suppose any whites who supported civil rights would have come in for your derision, too, had you been a littke older in the ’50s?

      I suppose if I support Take Back the Night one could say I’m offended about rape on behalf of women, but that doesn’t seem like much of a criticism.

      Fact is, most of the individuals who ate Native Americans I’ve known or heard speak on the issue are offended by the term redskin. At what point can I take a stand on their side without it being dismissed as merely being offended on their behalf?

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      • Gee, Jaybird, since when did it become a bad thing to stand with others?

        I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m saying that pretending that it’s something, in this case, involves pretending.

        Should the name be changed? Sure. Absolutely. But pretending that this is a battle on par with the civil rights battles of the 1950’s?

        That strikes me as vaguely inappropriate.

        But, hell. Stand up with the 9% who find the name offensive. Fight the good battle. Change the mascot of Washington’s Football Team to something else. Perhaps a group of white people.

        At the end of the day, when the name is changed, you can cheer as if you won a Civil Rights victory, like those won in the 1950’s. And the Native Americans that don’t care? We can come up with a funny name for them. “Uncle Tomahawks”, maybe.

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    • Yeah James and Kazzy are right.

      The fact that one poll shows that a low percentage of Native Americans are offended by the name is irrelevant. There is a percentage that is and has a right to be offended by the name, given its awful history. (Also, I’d be careful reading a whole lot into one poll.)

      Maybe a single poll would show that some gay people would like a team called the San Francisco Faggots. But suppose leaders of the gay rights community and a small minority were deeply hurt by it. The numbers in the poll wouldn’t matter. The name is offensive and shouldn’t be used.

      So it is with Redskins. I think the name should be striken because we don’t have a right (morally, not legally) to use a name that has a history of being a slur and creating stigma against a group where some percentage, even a small percentage, of that group find it offensive.

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      • On the other side of this duplex live a brother and sister, Oneida people. Standing outside, watering the garden, asked them what they thought of the Redskin name fiasco and what the native people thought about it.

        They thought the whole thing was very silly. It’s they who told me of the faker, Lone Star Dietz. The concept of the native American has been reduced to a cliche anyway, calling a team the Redskins isn’t the worst insult they’ve endured. It’s just a drop in the ocean of condescending and lying myth, people playing Dress Up with war bonnets. These tribes and nations were never united in any meaningful way, any more than Egyptians are Africans or Turks are Asians. They just happened to be on the same continent.

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      • To be clear, my response to Will is this:

        A term is too offensive to be used as a team name (or in almost any context) if (though not necessarily only if)

        a.) It makes even a small percentage of a discriminated group offended
        and
        b.) Has a clear history of being used as a slur against said oppressed group

        If a poll shows that said a large percentage of that group is okay with the term, that doesn’t make it inoffensive. Those who want to continue using the term because a poll shows only a minority of said group are opposed to the term are not, as maybe Will would have it, just letting the oppressed group decide what is offensive, as the majority doesn’t decide these things. The term is offensive precisely because it is offensive to some of the oppressed group and has a history as a slur.

        I think this is hard to disagree with.

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      • Shaz, I agree that (b) is relevant, but my belief that the name ought to be changed is mostly contingent on the percentage of (a). The higher that percentage, the more I think that changing it is justified at just about every level. The lower that percentage, the more I think that my own personal cringe at the name is primarily my problem and that demanding a name-change has more to do with alleviating my own discomfort than that of a population that for whatever reason mostly doesn’t actually mind. Which is why I consider (a) to be so important.

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      • Yes, exactly. To the extent that this is addressing a problem that Native Americans have with the team name, it’s important that we change the name and the sooner the better… but there does seem to be an undercurrent of white people arguing against other white people and the opinions of Native Americans are useful only insofar as they support the position and don’t seem to have value in and of themselves.

        Do the Native Americans want/need a White Knight, here? To the extent that they do, it seems appropriate to see this as a moral issue on their behalf… but, by that token, to the extent that they don’t, it seems equally inappropriate to do that.

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      • “To the extent that they do, it seems appropriate to see this as a moral issue on their behalf… but, by that token, to the extent that they don’t, it seems equally inappropriate to do that.”

        Why is it equally bad? As far as I can tell, there’s almost zero actual harm that would come if we changed the team to some other name tomorrow. There are at least a sizable group of Native Americans that find the name offensive (and the history of the term mostly backs them up); so why shouldn’t we change the name?

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      • I’m not saying that we shouldn’t change the name. It seems to me that the best solution would be to change the name.

        But it also seems obvious to me that we’re changing the name for us and for our own sensibilities rather than changing the name on behalf of others.

        I’m not saying that it’s inappropriate to change the name. I’m saying that it’s inappropriate to see this as a moral issue on their behalf if they themselves do not see it as one.

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      • It was really the “equally bad” part that I’m pushing on. Even if I grant for the sake of argument that it’s inappropriate to overzealously defend the feelings of a minority group I don’t belong to, I have a hard time seeing that well-intentioned-if-self-interested fault being as bad as using a racial slur against the wishes of said minority group.

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      • I’m not weighing “using the racial slur” against “fighting on behalf of the Native Americans”.

        I’m weighing “taking this as a moral issue on their behalf” against “not taking this as a moral issue on their behalf”.

        Again: changing the name seems to be the best solution here.

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      • “The higher that percentage, the more I think that changing it is justified at just about every level. The lower that percentage, the more I think that my own personal cringe at the name is primarily my problem and that demanding a name-change has more to do with alleviating my own discomfort than that of a population that for whatever reason mostly doesn’t actually mind.

        This is wrong headed, IMO. You are forgetting the degree to which those individuals who are in the minority of the discriminated against group are harmed by the name. If a small portion of Natives are made to feel dehumanized (an awful thing, like raping a soul) by a sports team name, the name is awful and must go.

        You are also forgetting that offensive language, slurs, and the like can be harmful to an oppressed group even when a percentage of that group doesn’t see them as harmful. For example, the fact that some women are okay with being called “ho” does not make that term less offensive and harmful. There are facts about what is harmful and enforcing of bias and racial privilege. Those facts are tracked fairly well in most cases by what oppressed groups believe to enforce bias and privilege, but the tracking isn’t perfect.

        More generally your comment implies that those who want to ban the name are somehow more worried about themselves than the oppressed group. I see this as a species of hippy punching, nearing to ad hominem.

        There are natives who feel that the name is offensive and the name has been used in derogatory, oppressive ways in the past. These natives believe that name is a tool (weaker, maybe) of oppression just like the N-word. I am saying that they shouldn’t be offended anymore and the name should be changed. I am not siding with Rachel Maddow or some hippy liberal moralist of the conservative imagination on this. I am siding with the Natives (in the minority if the poll -that James is rightly somewhat skeptical about- is to be trusted) who find the word to be harmful.

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      • Shaz,

        More generally your comment implies that those who want to ban the name are somehow more worried about themselves than the oppressed group. I see this as a species of hippy punching, nearing to ad hominem.

        Uhmm. Then I am punching myself. Because I have been pretty clear that I don’t like the Redskins name. I had a whole post – linked to in this thread – about how I cannot root for them because of their name.

        I cannot find much constructive to say in response to the rest of your comment. Good day.

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  3. A bit of an oddity: The University of North Dakota’s athletics teams have no mascot. They just North Dakota [This space intentionally left blank].

    Anyway, I pretty much said mine here.

    I will only add that we’ve become terrible at naming sports teams. I wish we were pivoting away from this sort of thing in an era that we weren’t terrible at naming sports teams.

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  4. If I may be serious for a moment, this strikes me as being fairly trivial, all things considered. My understanding of attitudes among Native Americans is some variant of “you steal our land, steal our culture, and pretty much destroy our history so we have nothing left except for land that you didn’t want… and you ask us about the name of a sports team? WHAT THE HELL???” and it’s difficult for me to see the name of the Redskins as important in the face of that kind of criticism.

    It honesly feels like a tempest in a teapot but since it’s “Fighting Against Racism”, we get to pretend that this molehill is actually a mountain.

    Now, is it a moral issue (as opposed to a trivial one)? Well… it might be. Changing the name is probably the best course. But it’s not my team to rename and if Native Americans see it as a trivial issue, it seems weird for me to choose *THIS* issue to make into a moral battle on their behalf.

    But, hey, the name change is something that’s easy to do, I guess. It’ll also make a lot of people feel good about themselves for winning an important battle against racism. And there are a non-zero number of Native Americans who find the name offensive and that should probably be enough to get us to change the name to something generically sports-appropriate.

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    • It’s literally adding insult to injury. Yes, restitution for the injury is more important, but given how complicated and fraught that is, things like this represent something more like the low-hanging fruit. It almost says more if we won’t even pick the low-hanging fruit than if we did do that but couldn’t see our way to addressing the big, substantive measures that might start to redress past wrongs (though what those might be I haven’t the foggiest idea). Though I don’t dismiss your point that it’s pretty trivial by actual comparison – it’s true.

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      • Well, it seems to me that, from here, the likely way that a name change would play out would involve the following:

        1) the team owner publicly eating crow
        2) the pro-team name change people doing a victory lap like something major had been accomplished
        3) Journalists will have to dig to find Native Americans who act with anything even approaching enthusiasm about this
        4) After which, Native Americans would go back to being ignored until we start talking about Cleveland or Kansas City

        I mean, it strikes me as 90% likely that all four of those would happen and 99.99% likely that three of them would happen…

        And, going out on a limb here, I suspect that this seems like the way it’d be likely to play out from the perspective of the Native Americans who live close enough to journalists to be interviewed about football team names. “You think you’ve accomplished something? You’ve accomplished nothing.”

        The stories won’t have a fresh and interesting hook. They’ll be dropped quickly.

        And I suspect that the Native Americans suspect this too. (But I would.)

        Of course, maybe it’d play out completely differently.

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      • 3) Journalists will have to dig to find Native Americans who act with anything even approaching enthusiasm about this

        Perhaps because the journalists don’t know any?

        We had a forum in our town earlier this year, about two local high scholls with the nicknames “Indians” and “Redskins.” The local Native American association was there, and they seemed to care. A lot. One of the guys on the panel talking about the issue was the guy pictured in the upper left in the link, Abel. The media shouldn’t have to dig to hard to find him.

        But I’m sure these folks will just chill on the issue now, since they have the word of a white guy that it doesn’t matter to them. Thank you, Jaybird, for being not-offended on their behalf. It’s mighty white of you.

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      • So… what’s the problem with any of that?

        Apart from feeling like we’ve accomplished something when, really, we’ve accomplished nothing?

        Nothing at all.

        Thank you, Jaybird, for being not-offended on their behalf. It’s mighty white of you.

        I see it as picking which group I’m going to emote on behalf of. I don’t know that picking the minority most like me is doing the Lord’s work here.

        But, please, if there is an important Civil Rights victory to be won, don’t let me stand in your way of fighting the good fight.

        From the Wikipedia:
        Despite vocal and legal action from American Indian groups and scholars, the majority of people surveyed on the subject do not find the name offensive. Following the 1992 Super Bowl protests, the Washington Post posted a survey in which “89 percent of those surveyed said that the name should stay.” In a study performed by the National Annenberg Survey, American Indians from the 48 continental U.S. states were asked “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or does it not bother you?” In response, ninety percent replied that the name is acceptable, while nine percent said that it was offensive, and one percent would not answer.

        Now, I am *NOT* saying that we should ignore the 9%… surely their opinions are sufficient to change the “Redskins” name into something else. I’m also looking at that 90% and thinking that something is fishy.

        We’re going to change the name (seriously, does anyone think that the name *WON’T* change? Does anybody think that their attitudes won’t be partially responsible for the change?) and then we’re going to think that we will have accomplished something.

        And, really, we won’t have.

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      • So… what’s the problem with any of that?
        Apart from feeling like we’ve accomplished something when, really, we’ve accomplished nothing?

        Nothing at all.

        So… more or less nothing at all.

        I’d point out that in the initial comment you indicated that there might be some moral reason to change the name even if it’s a relatively trivial gesture the effort that it’s weird to put much effort into:

        Now, is it a moral issue (as opposed to a trivial one)? Well… it might be. Changing the name is probably the best course. But it’s not my team to rename and if Native Americans see it as a trivial issue, it seems weird for me to choose *THIS* issue to make into a moral battle on their behalf.

        …Now it seems to be your view that changing the name would “accomplish[ ] nothing.” That’s a considerably different view from what I can tell.

        In any case, your view generally seems to be that whatever benefit might exist from this change is (more than) offset by the fact the it will allow some people to feel, talk, or appear like something has been accomplished (when either nothing or very little in fact has been). I’m not sure I see what the harm in that is that would offset even the possibility that there would be some value to the change apart from those feelings, words, or appearances.

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    • JB,

      You make good points here. I don’t think resisting the name AND arguing for other support for Native Americans are mutually exclusive. I also think there is a degree to which the name makes some of the awful treatment they receive easier to dish out. If someone grows up never really interacting with Native Americans but they know all about the Redskins and Chief Wahoo and whatnot, it probably makes it psychologically easier to justify shitty treatment of them. There is lots of research that shows how public perception can be shaped by media and how that perception can then inform beliefs and stances. It is easier to oppose welfare when you have the image of the welfare queen burned into your head; far less so when the guy next door, who you like and respect, is your notion of it. Likewise, it is far easier to support policies that are awful for Native Americans when all you think of when you hear the term is this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/52/Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg/200px-Cleveland_Indians_logo.svg.png

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    • If I may be serious for a moment,….

      First, you weren’t being serious above? It’s times like that that it’s hard to engage with you, especially if you say something that people are going to take seriously enough to respond to. There is a certain gamesmanship to some of your comments where they seem to have the effect of baiting others to say something you expect them to say, at which point you follow with a comment that pounces on them for saying it. I’m not sure you’re fully aware that your comments (sometimes) have that effect, but they do (again, sometimes).

      Second, part of what you seem to be arguing about is allocation of resources. Although I agree with Kazzy that one can support a name change without harming other, more substantive forms of advocacy, the claim that this issue is less important than others and we should be more worried about the others is at least a defensible one.

      Third, this,

      Changing the name is probably the best course. But it’s not my team to rename and if Native Americans see it as a trivial issue, it seems weird for me to choose *THIS* issue to make into a moral battle on their behalf.

      I’m not so sure that “Native Americans” see it as a trivial issue. It’s probably the case that some do and that some don’t, and that some haven’t fully weighed where they stand on the issue against whatever other issues they are concerned about. Where the majority falls, and whether that majority is a strong one or merely a simple one, and how strongly that majority holds to its opinion, I don’t know. However, I suspect someone’s Google-fu here is strong enough to whip up a study that’ll prove any one of those claims.

      It’s not your team, and it’s not mine, either. I’m not even a football fan. But as Americans, we have some buy-in for an opinion on what a major team for a popular spectator sport in the U.S. calls itself. (And no, I’m not making some argument that’s reducible to, “because we have buy-in, therefore the federal government should be able to draft each of us for 10 years of national service, and Bloomberg should be made president for life.”) And frankly, why should buy-in be necessary? I wouldn’t say that non-Americans may not have an opinion, either. Why shouldn’t Mr. McLeod, or Murali, or James K. have an opinion? Is the opinion less valid somehow just because they don’t have an ownership share in the team?

      And yes, there’s a certain something not quite right about professing stern outrage on behalf of a group one doesn’t belong to. Maybe it can be chocked off to our fallen nature or the tragedy of good intentions and unintended consequences. But there’s also something not quite right about dismissing the substance of a charge based on the presumed haughtiness of the ones advancing the charge, along with a claim, upon which a lot of moral weight is put, on whether “most” members of the group in question adopt the same position. Babies and bathwater and all that. And speaking for myself, this is not “Outrage!” with a capital O, just a sense that the term is derogatory and ought not be the name for an NFL team.

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      • Well, when I said “it doesn’t matter what Native Americans think”, I was not being serious. When I finished with “We owe them that much”, I was kind of being scathing.

        But the whole “we think we’re doing some big thing but we’re really not doing much?” thing? Yeah, I pretty much meant that.

        the claim that this issue is less important than others and we should be more worried about the others is at least a defensible one.

        Well, I’m relying on a 20 year old poll that said that 90% of Native Americans polled didn’t give a crap. 9% did. The 9% are sufficient for us to fight to change the name… but, really, it seems to me that we’re going to change the name and then go back to not giving a shit about Native Americans.

        And if I see that as likely to play out, it strikes me as likely that Native Americans will see that dynamic at work as well… hence the enthusiasm gap.

        Hey, maybe the 20 year old poll no longer reflects attitudes on the ground. If, instead of there being a 10-1 attitude of not caring, there is now an 8-1 attitude of not caring, that’s a pretty big turnaround. Hey, maybe it’s 5-1! Maybe it’s even flipped!

        In the short term, however, this strikes me as a dynamic where this group of white people is fighting that group of white people and we’ve come out and said that it doesn’t matter what Native Americans think.

        It’s hard for me to figure out what the appropriate level of enthusiasm for fighting the good fight would be, here.

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      • First, I was away all day so I wasn’t able to engage your comment.

        Second, my getting all huffy about your “to be serious for a moment” comment was pretty much me deliberately overreading a comment. So sorry about that.

        Third, I think I agree with much of what you say, but I do question this (although I haven’t read the poll, etc.): “Well, I’m relying on a 20 year old poll that said that 90% of Native Americans polled didn’t give a crap. 9% did.”

        Is it that 90 % really “didn’t give a crap” or is it that 90% chose “disagree somewhat” to the statement “Changing the name of the Redskins is the most important move possible to advance Indian rights”? I guess I’m asking if you’re using hyperbole or if you’re really saying 90% “didn’t give a crap” (which to me reads “didn’t care at all”).

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      • Again, from Wikipedia: “In response, ninety percent replied that the name is acceptable, while nine percent said that it was offensive, and one percent would not answer.”

        That seems to me to be a *HUGE* disparity. I mean, huge to the point where I want to question it because if we had a poll asking if the name of the Miami Dolphins was offensive, I’m pretty sure that we could get 9% saying it was.

        I’ve got a choice between saying that the poll isn’t good and therefore I’m going to go with my gut in the absence of other numbers and shrugging and saying that I’m stuck with the data I’ve got.

        As such, I’m left thinking that if we do this thing (and, of course, we should) we should pretty much acknowledge that we’re doing it for us and our own sensibilities rather than how other people find it offensive.

        Or we can find a poll with significantly different numbers. Different data would, in fact, change my approach to how much and what kind of a problem I see this as being.

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      • I’m left thinking that if we do this thing (and, of course, we should) we should pretty much acknowledge that we’re doing it for us and our own sensibilities rather than how other people find it offensive.

        It’s often said in these comment threads that we shouldn’t make assumptions about people’s motivations. Of course there’s no requirement that everyone agree with that suggestion.

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      • I still wonder if 90% said it was positively acceptable, or just circled “somewhat agree” or “neither agree nor disagree” when the question was asked, or if there were merely three options: acceptable, unacceptable, or don’t know. I am skeptical of what such a survey, however framed can say even at the time it is given not to mention, as you acknowledge, 20 years later.

        Having said all that, I recognize that you’re actually bringing empirical-like evidence into the discussion and I’m talking abstract propositions, so it’s not entirely fair for me to ask that question about how many really find the term offensive, because to a large degree, I don’t care about the answer (that’s why I haven’t asked for the link). Or to put another way, I think it is relevant if the “vast majority” not only find the term acceptable, but embrace it or see it positively. But I still object to the term, and apparently 9% also object(ed).

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      • Pierre, Those are important distinctions. My guess (and this is speculation) the deeper you dig into this, the more you verify that the respondents are actual Indians, and you gauge how strongly you feel about it, you’re going to get numbers that are more critical of Indian names and iconography in general but particularly of some of its manifestations.

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      • I’ve known African-Americans to say that at least you know where you stand with a person who says nigger, as opposed to someone whose racism may be more subtle. I wouldn’t be surprised if some (small, probably) segment of the “approve” responses were along similar lines, a little tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we whites should keep the name so as to own up to our racism.

        I don’t pretend that’s scientific or that I can provide anything like evidence for it. But it sounds like the response of a typical cynical human…a person if the sort, perhaps, who populates Ordinary Times.

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    • You know, there aren’t many marginalized or oppressed groups who could, in stereotype form or otherwise, be appropriated as mascots for sports teams these days. But for some reason, Native Americans still can. I think that’s the real issue: most people don’t care. Most people don’t even notice. They still don’t have a voice. I think that’s a genuine issue, not just a molehill. It’s not the team names themselves, but the fact that they’re even possible in 2013.

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      • Chris, what do you make of the instances like the Chippewas, Utes, Seminoles, and so on? Where the relevant tribe(s) signed off on it?

        To me, the aspect that’s missing here is intellectual property. We talk about whether teams should or shouldn’t have these mascots when we should be talking about under what conditions they should. To me, the answer the answer ought to be derived from the tribes themselves. Basically, some sort of sponsorship requirement from a tribe that meets certain criteria.

        The NCAA got it almost right. By accident, but they got it almost right.

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      • I think I agree with Chris and Will here, as long was we’re talking about mascots and the presumed owners of a specific piece of intellectual property.

        But I will say if an official representative body signs off on something that I consider offensive, I’m not all the sudden going to stop considering it offensive just because it was signed off on. And the term “redskin” is such that it’s hard for me to think of any representative body that could be representative enough to convince me that the term isn’t offensive. Also, Indian history in the U.S. has a long tradition of representative bodies or supposedly representative people signing away rights in the name of the “represented.”

        However, I hadn’t heard of the example Will mentions, and again, as long as its limited to easily identifiable mascots to which a tribal body or other group has a strong claim to ownership, then I’m not sure I’d be opposed in those cases, or at least I’d see it as an internal matter for which my views as a non-member are less relevant.

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      • Pierre, you and I are almost certainly on the same page.

        While George is clearly just playing a game (I doubt he believes a thing he says here), he unintentionally raises an interesting point with names like the Spartans and the Vikings. There are two ways that a name like The Redskins comes into being: 1.) The people to whom it refers are long dead and outside of both living and cultural memory, and so there is no one who could possibly be harmed, and we’re not really even referring to the actual people anyone, just historical archetypes, or 2.) The people to whom it refers are still around but so marginalized that no one cares what they think about it. Like the long-gone Spartans or Vikings, they aren’t humans, they’re archetypes, despite the fact that they’re still around.

        The way to rectify the situation in #2 is to make people care about what they think about it by making them human again and letting them speak for themselves.

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    • – This seems like an unnecessarily unilateral way of thinking about this. I kind of feel the same way (to a lesser degree) about the Redskins mascot as I do the confederate flag, which is this: Obviously, however Native- or African-Americans feel about these issues is important, and should (I believe) be thrown into the equation. But I think it’s also OK, considering the historical context of each, that whites in the US are allowed to say amongst themselves, “that’s not who we want to be anymore.”

      For example: I wouldn’t want to work for a client who asked me to help him get around federal employment laws because he didn’t want any “darkies” working for his company. Yes, part of that is because doing so would be offensive and (possibly) harmful to minorities, but just as important is the fact that it’s not who I want to be. If you took a survey of blacks/latinos in that town and they all said, “Whatever. We don’t actually care, we wouldn’t want to work for that a**hole anyway,” it would have zero impact on my decision whether or not to take him on as a client.

      This seems like a pretty valid (and even important) thing to take into consideration.

      I get what you’re saying, but the problem I see with that criteria is that

      a). it potentially puts the onus of eliminating systems and icons that perpetuate disenfranchisement solely on the backs of the disenfranchised,

      b). it makes every later attempt by a minority to make change fodder for arguments that “those people won’t stop whining” and that they have no business being offended, and

      c). It inadvertently asks whites to put away self-reflection on these kinds of issues.

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      • I think that a defender of the Confederate Flag, and someone who wants Indian mascots abolished, actually have something in common: “How I see the symbol is more important than how you see the symbol.”

        If Native Americans were mostly really are cool with the use of such symbols, why should we strip them in the name of sensitivity towards the people who don’t mind?

        The poll numbers are actually all over the place and Redskins in particular does tend to poll poorly compared to other names. But I would say that the views of actual Indians are not just a factor, but far more important than what we think of it, in deciding what to do here.

        The primary questions ought to be (a) Are they taking offense? and (b) Is their offense reasonable? If (b) is met, then we should be looking at (a).

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      • I’m not saying that the onus for eliminating systems and icons that perpetuate disenfranchisement should be on the backs of the Native Americans in this case.

        I *AM*, however, saying that if we’ve got reason to believe that the overwhelming super-duper majority of Native Americans don’t care (10-1), the question “who, exactly, are we doing this for?” is one worth asking and if the answer is “us”, then that should, at least, get us reflect a little bit about why we’ve chosen this particular battle.

        I’m not asking us to put away self-reflection on these kinds of issues. The opposite, really.

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      • Urging reflecting about why people have chosen this battle isn’t the same thing as saying this change shouldn’t be made because it might cause some (the wrong) people to feel (and act) as though something has been accomplished when (perhaps) it hasn’t. I’m clear that you’re urging the reflection. I’m unclear where you stand on the other thing right now.

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      • saying this change shouldn’t be made because it might cause some (the wrong) people to feel (and act) as though something has been accomplished when (perhaps) it hasn’t.

        This is weird for me. I can find several places above where I’ve said that the change should be made.

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      • But people just shouldn’t put much effort into trying to get the people who can make the change to do so?

        This must be cognitive dissonance. I can’t think of any other explanation.

        Or they just should be thinking about why they’re doing that if they do?

        It certainly seems that the motivation behind doing this has little to do with what Native Americans actually think about it. This seems to me to be not an insignificant detail.

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  5. Whenever this comes up, I am baffled that it’s about the Redskins and not the Cleveland Indians . The Indians’ logo is a complete disgrace, as bad as a shifty-looking Jew with a hooked nose.

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  6. I can’t speak on behalf of those from the mother country, but I for one find “The Fighting Irish” to be amusing.

    I know a couple of Salish who find “Indians” and “Redskins” amusing in the same way they find the term “Native American” amusing, because they think of themselves as “Salish”.

    On the other hand, I know a bunch of Asian-Americans who find “Orientals” reprehensible, although the term originally came from which direction was “up” on your navigation charts.

    I don’t know how any of those three things generalize. Since I don’t, I have no opinion on what those teams should do.

    I know I would keep the name “The Fighting Irish” if I was running the team, and change “Redskins” if I owned the team, but that’s just me.

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  7. If we’re renaming the Redskins it should be what DC is famous for:

    Corruption
    Influence Pedaling
    and Scandals

    How about the DC Corruption? The icon could be an obese pig in a suit and tie.

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  8. A far more egregious and offensive team name is the Minnesota Vikings.

    *inserts long rant about European fear and hatred of the Norsemen, along with absolutist Christian bigotry and a history of oppression of indigenous polytheism*

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      • Sometimes a reductio ad absurdum works. Sometimes it’s just a thin cover to pretend there’s nothing wrong.

        Unfortunately there’s no term that we can use for northern whites that quite brings home in a really intuitive way the offensiveness of certain names. For southern whites, at least, we could suggest renaming the Atlanta Braves the Georgia Crackers, and see what kind of reaction we get.

        But all in all, I just don’t get why some people are so resistant to just being respectful toward others. If you worked with someone named William, would you continue to call them Billy even after they asked you to call them Will? And if so, what does that say about what kind of person you are?

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      • The entire renaming issue has become ridiculous in extremis. The etymology of all these derogatory names have a basis in what these people called themselves. The most interesting is Kike.

        It derives from Yiddish, kikel. Philip Cowen, first editor of “The American Hebrew,” suggests a source in Yiddish kikel “circle.” According to him, Jewish immigrants, ignorant of writing with the Latin alphabet, signed their entry forms with a circle, eschewing the “X” as a sign of Christianity. On this theory, Ellis Island immigration inspectors began calling such people kikels, and the term shortened as it passed into general use.

        Yid: yiddish/judische
        Nip: nippongo
        Chink: chun kuo
        Polack: polacca
        Goombah: cumpa, a term of respect for old men

        Reductio it might be. Absurdum, without basis, it’s not.

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      • Crackers doesn’t really bring it home either. This was actually one of the examples that came to my mind during the debate over “privilege.” Being invulnerable to something other groups are vulnerable to…. privilege. Naturally, I think this is also an example where different regions of whites have differing amounts of it (as you point out, there are derogatory terms for southerners that even if they don’t compare to the ones for minorities are more than we have for other regions), but it is still something generally shared to one extent or another.

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      • In the old days, if you wanted to piss off someone in South Carolina, you’d call him a Linthead. Poor people worked in cotton mills and got cotton lint in their hair. And their lungs, it was a dreadful job.

        Cracker came from the same root as “cracking a joke”. A cracker was a boastful upstart, always with some zinger. From cracking a whip.

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      • Often as not, these epithets backfire. Yankee Doodle was a term of scorn and thus the song was first sung. The Revolutionaries took the song as their own.

        “Stuck a feather in his cap and called it Macaroni”

        The Maccaroni were the fashion plates of their day.

        Same goes for the N Word. Anyone with enough of a sense of humour will always grab up such scoffing and make it his own. Witness the humphing and farts of outrage as Politically Correct has been snatched away from the schoolmarms and used to beat them up.

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      • Blaise, you forgot to mention that the more likely theory of the origin of “kike” is that it was initially a derogatory term, I assume because it doesn’t fit your theory. Your etymology for “chink” isn’t widely accepted either. And goombah is something completely different. Basically, your theory, that “the etymology of all these derogatory names have a basis in what these people called themselves” is bullshit.

        Also, dude, if you’re going to quote something at length, use quotation marks or blockquotes.

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      • I did put in the link, sorry about not putting in quotes as well. Here’s the deal. All these schoolyard names have a basis in some original term. I’ve made my point before and all I get is so much screeching: while we continue to sort people out by these arbitrary categories — and don’t say they’re not — that’s exactly what they are — it doesn’t matter what term we apply to them, respectful or not.

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      • The Tomahawk Chop is one of the reasons that I wish we could work on a “middle way” on this (in as many cases as possible). With the Seminoles, FSU re-did a lot of their stuff to coordinate with what the tribe actually does. That’s win-win. What do the tribes from Georgia do? Is there anything there that we could learn about and incorporate? Far better than ignoring the offense, trying to explain it away, or changing the mascot to a white guy or red animal.

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      • All these schoolyard names have a basis in some original term.

        This is trivially true. It licenses no inferences about the nature of the terms.

        The terms often (as is likely in “kike” and “chink,” for example, your likely made-up folk etymologies not withstanding) come from originally condescending terms. Think of all of the different derogatory terms that we have for black people in this country, few if any of which come from names that black people gave themselves.

        Also, a better example for your theory would have been “wop.” Nip and Jap both intentionally shorten the terms from which they derive, as does Yid, often (as is certainly the case with Nip and Jap) condescendingly.

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      • Will, whatever the tribes from Georgia do, they mostly do it from Oklahoma and elsewhere, since they were forcibly removed from Georgia almost to a person in the 1820s and 30s. This may be another reason to change the name of that particular franchise. It definitely feels like an insult added to injury sorta thing.

        Thinking about it, I don’t know much about Creek customs. I know a bit about Cherokee customs, because the Cherokee, as well as occupying parts of Georgia, were the dominant nation where I’m from, but I think Atlanta was in Muscogee territory.

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      • “But all in all, I just don’t get why some people are so resistant to just being respectful toward others. If you worked with someone named William, would you continue to call them Billy even after they asked you to call them Will? And if so, what does that say about what kind of person you are?”

        This. A thousand times this. We’ll never bat 1.000 because we inevitably come across people who we don’t immediately know well enough to know their specific preference. But we can demonstrate sincerity, respect, and mindfulness and upon gaining the requisite knowledge, act accordingly.

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      • First you pick at the failure to put quotations around my citation, despite the href. Now it’s you putting up quote marks without any citations. When you have an actual point to make, feel free to put it forward. The origin of Yid, Chink and Polack are not up for discussion until it’s you putting up a link to some other source.

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      • What did I quote without citation?

        And you linked in a paragraph, and then continued the same paragraph with a direct quote. That’s odd. Yid does come from the same source as Yiddish, and you were right about Pollack. There are, as I’m sure you know, plenty of potential etymologies for “chink,” and yours doesn’t appear in any major source that I’ve found, including Oxford, the Online Etymology dictionary that you quoted earlier, and Wikipedia.

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      • Chris, you’re not much of a pedant. Where are your citations? Nobody’s arguing for the use of Chink or Kike or Yid, anyone who’d use such a word betrays his own ignorance. But it’s not going to change the fundamentals of the problem.

        Here’s a case in point. Who uses the word “Jew” as a noun these days? It’s sort of harsh, I’d write “Jewish people”. The Arabs used to dance around the word Israel, saying al-kayan al-Saihuni, the Zionist Thing, or Zionist Entity. It was always terribly ridiculous. al-kayan is about as abstract a noun as you can make in Arabic.

        But the Zionists had warned the State of Israel, don’t steal any land, only settle on what you’ve bought, don’t annoy the Palestinians, we’re going to need their support, nobody’s very happy about Ottoman rule or the British mandate, either one. Be careful here.

        Whatever the problem here, it isn’t ab-surdity. These terms have meanings, origins, etymologies. But everyone seems to want to put his own definition after the word. That’s the absurd part, trying to take a perfectly valid word or epithet, if squalid and ignorant, and turning it into something else. Like Negro. What’s wrong with the word? Many respectable black authors used the word.

        This isn’t some PoMo exercise out of Gilles Deleuze, arguing over the intrinsic meaning of some mathematical symbol. Words do mean things. Nobody’s going to tell anyone else which word to use just because some Politically Correct fathead has now deemed the word Condescending. People condescend. A word is just an assembly of letters, al-kayan

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      • Blaise, I had 3 points:

        1.) Some of your etymologies are fake (though you didn’t make them up, except maybe “chink,” which I can’t find anywhere). This is me being a pedant. I’m sure people can look this shit up for themselves, though, if they’re really interested. Hell, in one case, I’m using your linked source (and others).
        2.) In one case (“kike”) that is likely not true (it appears to have been made up, again not by you), you left out the alternative, more likely source that doesn’t fit with your argument. This isn’t pedantry, this is pointing out intellectual slipperiness.
        3.) Regardless of whether your etymologies are correct, linguistic archaeology doesn’t get you very far in a discussion of the present denotations and connotations of the terms. They’re offensive because, regardless of their origins, they came to be derogatory names for marginalized and oppressed groups.

        Also, “PoMo” is the word people who’ve never read any of it use to describe a diverse set of authors and texts.

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      • Fake is as fake does. I’ve supplied the words in the original languages. You haven’t supplied anything by way of supporting evidence, not even from your own command of language.

        As for reading the Postmodernists, I’ve read a good deal of what has been thus labelled. What exactly does that word mean, Postmodernism? There’s a big old fluffy nothing of a word for you. It’s perfectly indefinable because it depends upon the definition of Modernism, equally amorphous.

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  9. A quick thought, but if I was going to change the team name, I would change it to Warriors, and keep the logo. We don’t want to whitewash the past (completely remove any reference to non-white America), and it might be nice to show respect for Amerinds, and how tough an opponent they were considered (I believe that is why the name was chosen, but I could be wrong.)

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    • I think you have to change the iconography, or else nobody’s happy. At least a part of me thinks it’s weird to take a tribal character and turn him into a white guy, but if that is the general preference of the group represented (that they want him to be a white guy) then go with an Athenian, go with Warriors, and call it a day.

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      • My point is that I don’t want him to be a white guy, I want him to be respected, without changing the teams history. I do get where you are coming from, but I think changing to a white icon is a bigger problem.

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      • Why are we constantly trying to insult the Greeks, as if they never made it out of the bronze age? The are a proud, successful, and modern people, unlike the nasty Loki-loving Scandis, aka Odin’s a**holes, Thor’s thugs, and a hundred other derisive terms for the ice people who hang out in mead halls (such as Sarah Palin in her viking helmet and furs).

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      • Who can tell? They’re always protesting something, though, perhaps because they’re a backwards people who only got out of the bronze age by the timely arrival of the iron age.

        But the point is that Europeans used to be a bunch of tribal warriors who fought with arrows, spears, and axes. In fact, that describes all of humanity up until not that long ago. Reportedly, Vikings even fought Redskins once in North America before returning to Greenland and Iceland (although I’m sure the leagues were different back then). If a Native American had named Minnesota’s team, would all the Scandis feel insulted?

        Of course the whole issue might go away if we named the teams after the people who actually played. Perhaps the “Seattle Sports Marketing Majors” could play the “Vo-Tech Co-ops”, “Team Social Promotion”, the “Jerk Jocks”, and “Former Senior Class Locker Stuffers.” Or you could go with current status and have team names like the “Spoiled”, the “Pampered”, and the “Overpaid”.

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      • @will-truman

        If they did AND if the “scandis” and been nearly wiped out by systematic genocide over 100+ years by the Native Americans, with the last survivors being continually relocated to lands the Native Americans couldn’t find any value in.

        I really think this point is kind of important when we discuss this topic. There really is a reason why Redskins rubs a lot of people the wrong way in a way the Fighting Irish doesn’t.

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      • That might apply, but the Scandis weren’t doing a lot of genociding over here because they arrived pretty late, missing the systematic destruction of tens of thousands of people over centuries, at a rate that was smaller than the round off error in our current murder statistics.

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      • I saw numbers that said the Americas housed a population of 100M people before European contact and 1M shortly thereafter. Some of this was accidental, such as the deaths caused by the introduction of smallpox. But, that sure ain’t no rounding error.

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      • The 100 million estimate is pretty common, but the 1 million estimate is probably just for the region that comprises the contemporary continuous United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii, for obvious reason). I don’t remember which census, but there were something like 1.1 million Native Americans in the U.S. in the 1920s.

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      • I’d have to cite numerous books that analyze the death rate. One of the most in-depth studies on all known incidents between whites and natives calculated that the Native Americans killed significantly more whites than whites did against Indians, and by a fairly significant margin. The same generally applied out West, where the natives had the advantages of knowledge of the local terrain, a warrior party organization, and often better firepower than even the US cavalry. Yet in a hundred years of Western warfare the US military only suffered about 600 fatalities in battles against Indians. That’s six a year for those keeping score.

        The reason for the low numbers is that whites generally didn’t hate Indians (they often intermarried), Indians didn’t generally hate whites (they had lots of stuff to trade), but most of all because the Indian population density was extremely low because they were primarily hunter gatherers. The huge war with the Souix covered an area almost the size of Northern Europe and France yet there were only about a thousand or so Indians in that vast expanse. And far from demonizing them, many of the chiefs became well known celebrities. We still name things after them. By the 1920’s we even had a Native American Vice President who only spoke English as his third language.

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      • Kazzy,
        100 million is probably a vast overestimate. But 12-15 million is probably about on target.

        But, yeah, rounding error is an idiocy or a lie. The decline in numbers is dramatic. A whole society disappeared in the region of Cahokia, Illinois. The territory that is now the country of Belize is still less populous than it was before the Spanish invaded the Mayans. U.S. Armu units wiped out whole villages, including the elderly, women and children.

        George calls this a rounding error. I call him an apologist for genocide, no less despicable than a holocaust denier.

        I wonder if the League would tolerate an actual holocaust denier? If not, how would they justify drawing the line there?

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      • J@m3z, Cahokia was a Mississipian settlement. It also demeans the Holocaust, in which millions were killed in the span of a few years, to events which killed tens of thousands over centuries, and was less than the number of dying white colonists, simply because the whites quickly outnumbered the Indians but didn’t have a drop more immunity, significantly better medicine, and had significantly worse sanitation.

        The issue with the North American Indian “genocide” is that all the contacts are pretty well documented, and pretty well documented not to have produced a significant number of fatalities – because those would be documented. After you get past the Trail of Tears you start hitting the “huge” battles that would produce hundreds of casualties, and there aren’t very many of those. You very quickly start counting battles where the casualties were in the dozens, and then you run out of those.

        Thus the need to propose that all the really big death rates happened before anyone was writing anything, which conveniently means there’s also little or no evidence for any of it. It’s like proposing that the Jews killed millions of Germans but all the records were somehow lost in a fire.

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      • : “I’d have to cite numerous books that analyze the death rate. One of the most in-depth studies on all known incidents between whites and natives calculated that the Native Americans killed significantly more whites than whites did against Indians, and by a fairly significant margin. ”

        Yes, yes you would.

        Preferably ones from peer reviewed journals, rather than self-published.

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      • Numbers from Nowhere: The American Indian Contact Population Debate

        It is still the most authoritative source on the issue, and colleges have revamped some of their classes on account of it, because it’s very important for historians to know what was, what is wild speculation, and what can and can’t be known.

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      • : “Thus the need to propose that all the really big death rates happened before anyone was writing anything, which conveniently means there’s also little or no evidence for any of it. It’s like proposing that the Jews killed millions of Germans but all the records were somehow lost in a fire.”

        My understanding is that the vast bulk of the population was wiped out by the plague prior to settlers branching out west, and that populations were by that time small, scattered and largely decimated. In fact, my understanding is that the timing of the plague not only made the continent far easier to conquer than, say, Africa or Asia, it also continually left fields, trails, artificial clearings, and sometimes even actual towns and settlements that greatly assisted the speed and success with which Westward expansion occurred.

        I’m not sure how the fact that there were not millions and millions to kill by the time European/Americans pushed West makes attempts to either corral, reduce populations, enslave, or even exterminate them (depending on who and when) makes it as rosy, happy and chummy as the apologetics you seem to be writing here.

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      • You’ll need to be a little more specific.

        I believe Henige’s work a refutation of 80s and 90s politically driven (and apparently faulty) scholarship as to inflated populations of Native Americans prior to European settling. I have never, ever heard him cited as a source that Native Americans weren’t really killed, targeted, or abused with Western expansion. And I certainly have never him cited as insinuating that the Native Americans came out on the winning end against whites during periods of unrest.

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      • Its really disingenuous to say NFN is the “most authoritative” source. That book is a critique of “high counters” not the final word in what the pre-columbian population was. Does he even offer his own estimates or just criticize others. He is one voice in a debate that everybody admits is difficult. Its easy to shoot down the highest estimates, but what does that prove other than the highest estimates are , well, the highest.

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      • Body counts are the worst measure of a war. Territory is what matters. It’s also the only useful guide to wildlife preservation. It doesn’t matter how many we killed. We drove them off their land and into oblivion. I don’t believe the USA honoured one treaty it ever concluded with the native peoples. Not one.

        We didn’t have to kill them. We evicted them and installed them on crappy li’l reservations and when the country went crazy and decided to intern the Japanese — guess where they put up those concentration camps? On Indian reservations.

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      • Only some Indians went to reservations. A lot of the rest became regular tradesmen and farmers, and many took government jobs managing Indian affairs for the US government.

        The dilemma is what does a fairly advanced and populous civilization do when it encounters a very sparsely spread native stone-age population that has to depend on large hunting ranges because North America was not exactly a bread basket (unlike the rain forests in South and Central America). Letting them continue to live as they were would today be considered child abuse. Nobody today is allowed to raise children without teaching them how to read, do math, and whatnot. Generally nobody is allowed to raise children in the wild, without so much as a house or RV.

        Wanting to keep Indian culture “pristine” and pre-contact is no better than putting them in zoos for our amusement, or shipping all the blacks back to Africa so they don’t get polluted by modern culture. We’ve all intermarried, we’re all family, and the benefits of civilization, like medicine, airplanes, cable TV, and pick-up trucks should not be denied to people on the basis of race or ethnic heritage.

        Or, if you played history backwards and we kicked Indians out of their jobs as Navy Admirals, Army Generals, doctors, lawyers, and business owners, kicked them out of their houses and forced them to live as stone-age hunter gatherers, why, that would be pretty close to genocide.

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      • Your comment is unnecessarily vague in an area where there is much known history. The removal of natives from their land wasn’t just some sort of haphazard collision of civilizations. There was a dilemma all right, but it’s not the one to which you are alluding. The dilemma was: what do you do when you’re a white person in the American southeast and you see natives living on land that you’d like to have for yourself?

        Here’s what you do. You get the Supreme Court to rule that Native Americans can’t sell or hold title to their land (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_v._M%27Intosh). Then you elect a president who supports a policy that we would today call ethnic cleansing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Jackson). And then you pass a law that facilitates the forced removal of a settled population from their land (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Removal_Act_of_1830).

        Contrary to your comment, the things that stopped Natives from adopting the lifestyles and behaviors of white Americans wasn’t some sort of politically correct concern for the noble savage’s way of life. It was a legally enforced system of white supremacy that was designed and carried out specifically for the purpose of facilitating white settlement on native lands.

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      • Those acts were aimed at Indian tribes who had largely adopted white culture, and the federal government compensated some of the tribes for their land. This was of course done by Democrats looking to make bigger plantations, and was opposed by Lincoln. Some of the tribes were in on it and fought for the Confederacy. A lot of the Indians resisted the resettlement and stayed put, such as many Cherokee and Seminoles. I’ve worked in Cherokee NC, and the Florida Seminoles, though numbering only a couple thousand, make over a billion a year in revenue and own most everything, including Planet Hollywood. The Seminole council of Oklahoma, by the way, voted 18-2 to let Florida State University keep the name “Seminoles”, while Florida Seminoles surely treat it as free advertising for their financial empire.

        Of course the fundamental issue is that our land system is incompatible with the concept of tribal or ethnic ownership, a concept that causes enormous trouble everywhere it is used.

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    • Yes, and the problem is that there’s no actual evidence of any plague that did that, and a lot of epidemiological arguments that such a plague couldn’t take place, because the Indians weren’t riding horses and would have to walk long distances to infect another village, and since the villages were often at war with each other, they didn’t often do that.

      Smallpox just isn’t highly lethal or contagious, except sometimes in besieged cities. Eurasia had suffered smallpox for millenia without making a dent in its population numbers, and to this day Europeans and Asians have absolutely no natural immunity to smallpox, just like the Native Americans don’t. In fact, nobody had any immunity to smallpox till the early 1800’s when we started using the cowpox virus, and the first thing Jefferson did was make sure all the Indians were immunized along with the settlers, just to prevent any outbreaks.

      Mexico’s leading epidemiologist, who trained at Harvard, says his analysis of the early Mexican plagues that wiped out many of the Aztecs indicates it wasn’t a disease even known to Europeans, and based on historical data, period autopsy records, and recorded rainfall patterns, seems to have been a well-known and much-feared indigenous rodent-borne hemorrhagic fever, similar to ebola and endemic to the area around Mexico City, with outbreaks recurring into the early 1800’s. The death toll from those outbreaks was extrapolated to apply to two entire continents, when in fact no such thing happened, and if it had, the Indians would remember it, and they don’t.

      In fact, the great society-destroying plague seems to have escaped all their oral histories. Imagine that.

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      • umm georgie, you do know there were some pretty big plagues in good ol europe, with written records that killed high percentages of people. So what if they didn’t have horses, people walk and when their village is dying they walk. Many NA groups were nomadic or moved around a lot during the seasons and they definetly did have relations with groups that were far away. There are known trade networks of hundreds of miles with many NA groups.

        UMMM ” great society-destroying plague “, i guess that is true except of the stories of plagues that have been passed down.

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      • SO UM, you’re saying they caught black plague.
        Yeah, that’s exactly what you’re saying.

        Yeah, your researcher says it was an “unknown” thing.
        Sure. We never have figured out what caused the black plague.

        Doesn’t mean the “unknown” wasn’t from europe, though.

        Hemorrhagic plague sounds an awful lot like zombies to me
        — you know, fingers falling off, that sort of thing? We made
        those legends during the Black Plague, because they were
        reality.

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      • The horse arrives with Cortez. It spread across the Southwest. The tribes who got the horse first beat the hell out of those who didn’t. By Jefferson’s time, everyone had horses.

        And Cortez saw the first smallpox epidemic in the New World.

        The Virgin Soil Epidemic controversy isn’t so controversial. It’s pretty well recorded, by the Spaniards, by the native peoples themselves, by the priests who worked with them. We can’t generalise to the entire continent but it’s quite clear the Europeans brought their diseases with them, as those diseases had been brought to them, by ships from far away.

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      • Can you please cite some of these stories? ALL groups suffered disease outbreaks fairly routinely. The whites were especially hard hit by these because their sanitation was worse. New York and Boston were especially hard hit several times, as were most all the other cities. Yet it didn’t make much of a dent in population numbers because human populations climb very quickly to the normal carrying capacity. And that’s one of the problems with the theory.

        We know the Indians engaged in frequent and brutal tribal warfare. About 30% of the skeletons show obvious weapon trauma. We also know they suffered from all sorts of disease outbreaks, as do all societies. So for their population numbers to be stable, they had to have pretty high reproductive rates, just like all third world countries today. For 52 of those countries the growth rate still exceeds 2 percent per year (with a high of over 4 percent).
        At 2 percent population growth, 1 million surviving Indians in 1500 would’ve meant 52 million Indians by 1700. We can rule out a 4% growth rate because in that case a million Indians in 1500 would’ve multiplied to 2.5 billion Indians by 1700. Even a very low, post-industrial 1.3 percent growth rate would’ve seen the population grow from 1 million to 32 million by the American Revolution, and the Indians were definitely not post-industrial.

        The problem with the single plague theory is that we know their numbers never plummeted to almost nothing because we kept running into Indians everywhere during early contact and afterwards, yet their population numbers didn’t surge as they should if the only constraint was initial population, artificially dropped by a plague, instead of the carrying capacity of the land given their mode of life.

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      • Citations:
        Florentine Codex

        This enormous 16th century intellectual enterprise took place during the great plague that annihilated 80 per cent of Indigenous population; the document testifies for the compromise of 20 Nahua authors that decided to finish the work in spite of the death of masters, friends and relatives. A group of tlacuilos and grammarians locked themselves up in the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Santiago Tlaltelolco to finish the work regardless of death, commented Magaloni. “This adds up value to the document that recovers the Indigenous knowledge that Sahagun knew was about to disappear”.

        Motolinía’s History of the Indians of New Spain, 1541

        These don’t prove anything beyond what the conquistadors actually witnessed. It may be presumed the smallpox epidemics spread according to the usual patterns and with the usual casualty rates.

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      • Small pox hit Mexico from 1519 to 1521, but I think the codex you reference is from around the 1545 outbreak, which sounds like cocoliztli instead of smallpox. The symptoms were a dry black tongue, major bleeding from the nose and ears, and green or black piss. The codices report that this and similar plagues were preceded by a massive outbreak of rats. The Spanish doctors ruled out black plague, smallpox, and typhus.

        Interestingly, the Mayans even had a god that made people die bleeding from both ends if they let trash accumulate around their house. The called the god “trash master”. A similar god killed people in the road in the same fashion.

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      • It would be difficult to overestimate just how fast and loose George plays with facts and history.

        He claims smallpox wouldn’t have transmitted through the populations well because it spread slowly and there was a lack of interaction between different communities, but ignores the existence of well-established trade routes in pre-Columbian Americas, not just between communities of the same nation, but between different nations as well. And communities lived in close contact with each other, just as we modern Americans do. Once introduced into a community, the smallpox would have plenty of time to spread, and the knowledge of how to prevent its spread would have been nil.

        But of course smallpox was not the only disease Europeans introduced to the Americas. Others include scarlet fever, pertussis, typhus and cholera. There is plenty of recorded history about the effects of European diseases on indigenous populations, including in the Pacific islands. (Also about the effects of indigenous diseases on Europeans, particularly in Africa and India.)

        Both archaeological and analysis of mitochondrial DNA provide evidence for a massive population decline shortly after European contact. This decline being coincident with, but unrelated to, contact with Europeans is possible, but implausible. A plausible alternative explanation backed by evidence is required in order to sustain the claim, but no such plausible alternative explanation is given.

        I think George likes to fancy himself an iconoclast, a subverter of received wisdom and liberal fantasies about oppressed subalterns. But he does so only by distorting facts and telling shady stories–repeatedly–for which he almost never is willing to provide reference to sources that upon review provide real support for his claims. Ultimately. I argue that he is in fact a holocaust denier; it’s just a matter of which holocaust he denies.

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      • Motolinia is describing an outbreak in the 1520s. Motolinia may have the date wrong, it was more likely 1520 rather than 1521 as he says. As with any evidence of this sort, my confidence is not perfect. It does seem reasonable to assert there was a smallpox outbreak.

        What is not reasonable is to make excuses, as you’re doing. The Europeans behaved abominably and these cultures have been destroyed. It wasn’t done by one person or one virus, it was of a piece, as total an annihilation as anything Genghis Khan ever visited on his victims.

        Only one difference, Genghis Khan didn’t make excuses and try to aw-shucks his way back into anyone’s good graces. You’re wrong about the impact of communicable disease on the cultures of Asia and the West. You’re wrong about the horses. You’re wrong about American motives. You’re wrong about the native people’s motives. They were faced with terrible choices, which set of White Men to ally themselves to — the British, the French, the Spanish, the Americans — they’re the big losers in all this, and all you can seem to say is that the historical accounts of plague and genocide are bunk. They’re not.

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      • J@m3z, why do you keep infantilizing the Indians? They knew about as much as we did about dealing with diseases, often segregating the victims. Meanwhile our genius doctors were swilling mercury as a bowel cleanser. One of the whole problems with treating the Indians as semi-retarded victims of ingenious white diseases is that it’s extremely racist, much less having little or no documented basis in fact. Yes, there were quite a few plagues, just the same as have always hit human societies. The Europeans didn’t have any defenses against the plagues either, nor any genetic immunities.

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  10. Coming down here because I lost the threading. Regarding the big vs little issue, here are some powerful words:
    “There’s the Yale bulldog, there’s the Army mule, there’s the Navy goat, and there’s the Washington Redskins. That is apparently the classification of American Indians within the context of the social life of Americans. The political ramifications are obvious. … As far as I’m concerned, I’m not anyone’s mascot.” These were spoken by Oren Lyons, the Onondaga faithkeeper and an international representative of the Iroquois Nation.

    When we see a people no different than we see a giant invertebrate (the Banana Slugs), well, is it anyone wonder why we treat them so shittily?

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      • I don’t disagree. But when today’s 5-year-olds run around doing that godawful stereotypical “Injun’ howl”, it is not because their great grandfather taught them it. It is because our iconography hasn’t changed. People continue to think it is acceptable to treat Native Americans in incredibly shitty ways. This is in part a function of our systemic otherizing of them. The Washington Redskins, Chief Wahoo, and the like all contribute to that. You can’t separate them out, as much as you might like to.

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      • Who knows, except you, Jaybird? You write in deliberately obscurantist ways, then point out that people have misunderstood you. It begins to seem as though your goal is less to have a real discussion than to set traps just so you can point out that others misunderstand you.

        Kudos, you’ve won another round.

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      • Well, let me try to clear things up:

        In this case I find myself irritated by the moral preening of people arguing on behalf of Native Americans when, really, they’re arguing on behalf of their own moral sensibilities as if said sensibilities were universal. The majority are doing this without acknowledgement of data on this topic that has, seriously, been measured… and the data that has been measured has been tossed aside as “dubious” in favor of the aforementioned moral sensibilities.

        Should the name be changed? Sure. Should we assume that we’re fighting a great civil rights fight and the name change will be a great civil rights victory? It seems to me that the obvious answer is a dismissive “pffft”.

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      • Jaybird’s,

        Did anybody suggest that the shittiest treatment of Indians didn’t occur before the NFL? If not, then what did pointing out some obvious factoid that nobody had argued against actually mean? Did you think you said something meankngful? Did you think you we’re being clear?

        I’ll bypass your assumption that people who care about this are just engaging in moral preening, only noting that it’s your subjective perception. What really interests me here us how you seem to want to be understood, but repeatedly write comments in ways that foster misunderstanding. You seem to do it purposely. If so, then you’re playing games and jerking people’s chains, which is kind of an as home move. If not, you seem to be a slow learner.

        Simply, either write more clearly or stop acting surprised that others misunderstand you. Don’t be a such a dick.

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      • Well, James, in the original post to which I was replying, I saw an argument that was putting the cart before the horse. You can scroll up and read it, if you’d like.

        The essential argument seemed to be that there were ramifications to the objectification of turning people into mascots… and the culmination of the comment was “When we see a people no different than we see a giant invertebrate (the Banana Slugs), well, is it anyone wonder why we treat them so shittily?”

        It seems to me that the there is a difference both in degree and in kind when it comes to comparisons of the pre-mascot era and the post-mascot era that seemed to be elided by the question.

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      • Jaybird,

        That assumes that the mascot is simply a cause, not also an effect. They were made into mascots because they were dehumanized. The continuing use of them as mascots perpetuates the dehumanization.

        If that wasn’t clear before, hopefully it is now.

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      • the culmination of the comment was “When we see a people no different than we see a giant invertebrate (the Banana Slugs), well, is it anyone wonder why we treat them so shittily?”

        It seems to me that the there is a difference both in degree and in kind when it comes to comparisons of the pre-mascot era and the post-mascot era that seemed to be elided by the question.

        And so I ask again, Jaybird, does that mean we shouldn’t worry about shitty treatment now? Let’s agree that it’s less bad now. And the significance of that for your argument is…..? I don’t know, because you still haven’t explained how this relates to the argument. You want to draw a distinction between past treatment and present treatment, but you say you’re not claiming present issues don’t matter. So what are you saying?

        Aww, screw it This passive-aggressive approach of yours–never making a clear claim, then whinging that nobody understand yous–is such a persistent style that I don’t expect anything better from you. You’re not going to make yourself clear and I’m not going to pretend you’re saying something important enough to try to parse you.

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      • They were made into mascots because they were dehumanized.

        Honestly, I don’t know that I’d be willing to make either of those characterizations.

        I mean, c’mon, if you follow the logic, the “Redskins” were chosen as a name because… people like to cheer for teams that deliberately try to present themselves as dehumanized?

        I’d argue that this fundamentally misunderstands the warrior culture ethic I think professional sports teams try to emulate.

        The continuing use of them as mascots perpetuates the dehumanization.

        I think the continuing use of racial- or ethic-linked mascots perpetuates cultural references, some of which may include bigotry, misogyny, or class biases, so there’s a legitimate argument to be made that there’s a problem here, but I don’t think it’s quite that stark.

        I’ll bring back “The Fighting Irish”; you don’t choose that as your moniker because you think it’s perpetuating a racial stereotype against the Irish, you choose it because you think it sounds badass.

        Tod said

        If they did AND if the “scandis” and been nearly wiped out by systematic genocide over 100+ years by the Native Americans, with the last survivors being continually relocated to lands the Native Americans couldn’t find any value in.

        I really think this point is kind of important when we discuss this topic. There really is a reason why Redskins rubs a lot of people the wrong way in a way the Fighting Irish doesn’t.

        The Irish circa 1850 would probably argue, with a million or so dead from the Famine in seven years, and another million expatriated – about a quarter of the population (along with the delightful history of occupation prior and afterwards, not to mention how Irish immigrants were received when they fled to the U.S.) that there’s a lot closer of a comparison than is argued here.

        FWIW, I think this is a little misguided, because the unequal relationship between the collected tribes and Europeans spans 1500-2013, whereas the Irish and the British aren’t comparable directly during that time.

        On the other hand, from my understanding, the majority of the depopulation of the Americas, mostly from disease, took place from 1500 to 1800. Wikipedia bears that out… somewhere between 2.1 million and 16 million at the start of the 16th century drops to 600,000 by 1800, and continues to decline to 250,000 by 1890.

        While the U.S. government bears some serious culpability for 350,000 deaths in a hundred years, in the grand scheme of genocides, the English pretty much killed three times that many Irish in seven years in the middle of that century. The Russians, Chinese, Zulu, Belgians… Shaka Zulu and his buddies from 1810 to 1828, the Zunghars in China, Belgium and the Congo, The Circassian Genocide… they all committed active genocides, rounding people up and butchering them by the tens of thousands

        This isn’t meant to be a pissing war over which culture is shittier to which other culture, mind you. Humans are great at that, historically speaking.

        I’m just pointing out that I don’t think that the cultural link between the use of casual lingo for peoples and mascots is probably not as linked as is implied, so far on this thread.

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      • Patrick,

        Seeing a continent full of people of various cultures, languages, etc. and reducing them to a warrior trope is dehumanization.

        Let’s start from the beginning. Which group of native peoples do the Redskins refer to?

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      • And so I ask again, Jaybird, does that mean we shouldn’t worry about shitty treatment now?

        By whose definition? Ours? Apparently, that’s all that we care about.

        When we can change the name of the football team (something that, it seems to me, the overwhelming majority of Native Americans could not care less about) and wave it around like a civil rights victory on par with that of the 1950’s and then go back to not giving a shit? That seems like a hollow action on our part that is done on behalf of our selves rather than an action taken on the behalf of others.

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      • “This passive-aggressive approach of yours–never making a clear claim, then whinging that nobody understand yous–is such a persistent style that I don’t expect anything better from you. You’re not going to make yourself clear and I’m not going to pretend you’re saying something important enough to try to parse you.”

        We all like you JB, but James is right about this.

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      • : “The Irish circa 1850 would probably argue, with a million or so dead from the Famine in seven years, and another million expatriated – about a quarter of the population (along with the delightful history of occupation prior and afterwards, not to mention how Irish immigrants were received when they fled to the U.S.) that there’s a lot closer of a comparison than is argued here.”

        I think I both agree and disagree with you here.

        I don’t know that we Irish-AMericans ever blamed Americans of any stripe for the actual blight or the magnitude of its consequences. So I think a more accurate parallel would be a British football team that decided to call itself the Fighting Irish with a ND/Boston-like cartoon caricature – and in that case, I’d be willing to bet you’d see a lot of people pissed off. (Even people who have no problems with ND or the Celts.)

        As to the rest, it certainly is true the good people of the US weren’t very welcoming to the Irish when they first began arriving en mass, but we’re actually pretty bad at that with every new group that begins to pop up in numbers. I think Native and African Americans have a significantly bigger task both in forgiving and forgetting, and in being able to integrate in mainstream society over time.

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      • Jaybird, I get where you’re coming from, but your off base on this one. Yes, it’s a small thing, but it’s also a small cost. Plus, you put small positive things together, and it becomes voltronic karma. Besides, we’re libertarians. We of all people should appreciate small changes on the margin that don’t have a widespread constituency.

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      • When we can change the name of the football team … and wave it around like a civil rights victory on par with that of the 1950?s and then go back to not giving a shit?

        And who said anything about going back to not giving a shit? You. Only you. Don’t presume to speak for me.

        Moral preening, indeed. I hadn’t realized how intimately familiar you are with the concept.

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      • Seeing a continent full of people of various cultures, languages, etc. and reducing them to a warrior trope is dehumanization.

        So George has a point by bringing up the Vikings?

        I think you’re using an overbroad definition of “dehumanization”.

        Let’s start from the beginning. Which group of native peoples do the Redskins refer to?

        I’m guessing that it doesn’t refer to an actual group of Native Peoples at all. Looking at the history of the Redskins, it actually apparently refers to the fact that their initial landlords were the Boston Braves, who were named that in 1912.

        “In 1908, the Americans adopted those colors and became the Red Sox. The Nationals reverted to their red trim and slowly looked for a nickname of their own. They found one when James Gaffney bought the club.

        “The nickname of Braves was first given the club at the suggestion of John Montgomery Ward, when James E. Gaffney, from Tammany Hall, became club president in 1912. Previously, the club had been known as the Doves, a name bestowed on the team when George B. and John E. C. Dovey became its owners; and also the Red Caps and Beaneaters.” (BBG)

        The Tammany Hall political organization was named after an American Indian chief and used an Indian image as its symbol, hence the “Braves”. Over the years that name has stuck, despite occasional controversy about its stereotyping of Native Americans, and has followed the team through two moves — to Milwaukee in 1953, and to Atlanta in 1966.”

        Looking at Tamanend the whole “badass” idea is ludicrously wrong on my part.

        In fact, it was sorta the opposite. Seems like this was a tribute thing, not a dehumanizing thing at all.

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      • I don’t know that we Irish-Americans ever blamed Americans of any stripe for the actual blight or the magnitude of its consequences. So I think a more accurate parallel would be a British football team that decided to call itself the Fighting Irish with a ND/Boston-like cartoon caricature – and in that case, I’d be willing to bet you’d see a lot of people pissed off. (Even people who have no problems with ND or the Celts.)

        That’s a good point, T-bone.

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      • And who said anything about going back to not giving a shit? You. Only you. Don’t presume to speak for me.

        When was the last time that we (as a society?) had a country-level discussion about the treatment of Native Americans that was not related to sports team names?

        Leonard Peltier? Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl?

        I doubt you’ll find one person out of ten who has heard of either, let alone both.

        Yes, it’s a small thing, but it’s also a small cost.

        And treating it like anything but a small victory is untoward.

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      • Yes, I can understand how the logo might be considered, among other things, a racist caricature or offensive. But let’s stick with the name for a minute.

        And the idea that something can be a tribute does not mean it can’t also be dehumanizing.

        Oh, that’s true. But I’m still not seeing the case that this is dehumanizing. Especially given the history (which is actually pretty interesting).

        But! I grant that what the name should or shouldn’t have implied or meant in 1912, it’s not 1912 and again, to be clear, I’d change the name myself. I’m also not telling anybody that they don’t have grounds to be offended.

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      • Let’s consider the idea of it as an honorific. What, exactly, are they honoring? Let’s focus specifically on the Redskins. Let’s just start with which tribe they are supposedly honoring.

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      • There’s a link to Tamanend just two comments up.

        It appears that the Tammany Societies are named after him, and the Boston Braves were named after them, and the Washington Redskins were originally named after the Boston Braves (who were apparently nicknamed the Boston Red Stockings, and then they tried naming themselves the Bees, and then they changed back to the Boston Braves and then moved to Milwaukee and then to Atlanta, while the team we now know as the BoSox sprung from the ashes of the old nickname).

        So, no “tribe”, in the direct sense, but the Lenni-Lenape nation indirectly, and their chief, if named-after-named-after-named carries any original connotation through the thread at all.

        Assuming you buy all this as laid out on Wikipedia, I’m actually not up on my early 1900s baseball history, so I learned most of this stuff today.

        In any event, historically speaking “redskin” certainly has had a pejorative connotation at times and currently is regarded as a loaded term (even though I don’t imagine that it’s tossed around much as an insult, but what the hell do I know, I wouldn’t be a target of it myself), although it’s not clear that this was the specific case when the team owner of the football team changed the name from “Braves” to “Redskins”, which was (again, possibly weak evidence) to honor a coach.

        Regardless, if it *is* intended as an honorific (as claimed), then the polite and just thing to do would be for the team owner to go visit some tribal nations and ask them what name they think is fitting and appropriate for a sports team honoring their customs and culture. The Lepane Nation is still around.

        The fact that Dan Snyder has done pretty much the opposite of that speaks volumes to how big of a jackass he probably is, but that’s tangential to the whole conversation, unless we just want to get into dissecting his particular character flaws.

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      • Okay. So we get the “who”. Now how about the “what”, specifically “what” about that person/those people were they honoring?

        I realize I might be coming off a bit patronizing here, which is not my intent. Rather, I think it important that we probe the idea of such team names as honorific before we accept that justification.

        Because I’m tempted to think that the responses I would get to these questions could be used to justify a white-owned team being called “The Blacks” because, hey, blacks are fast and great at sports and we want to embody that spirit and honor them and we’ve had black players so…

        And as silly as that might sound, think about how “The Redskins” honors Native Americans warrior spirit and, oh, there was that coach that one time.

        See what I’m getting at? Even as an honorific, it is deeply flawed.

        Notre Dame is a different case because the name is generally attributed to Father William Corby, who served as a chaplain with the Union’s “Irish Brigade” during the civil war and as the President of Notre Dame. So, it did not originate as a slur against the Irish and their supposed drunken, pugilistic ways.

        As others have pointed out here, there are high schools that are predominantly Native American and which have adopted such nicknames, largely without controversy.

        All that said, I would say that ND’s logo never really quite sat right with me and the name as well gives me some pause, despite its history.

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      • Okay. So we get the “who”. Now how about the “what”, specifically “what” about that person/those people were they honoring?

        Shoot, Kazzy, are you asking me to channel the dead? The name was settled on in the early 1900s. How could anybody really have a reasonable claim to know this?

        I realize I might be coming off a bit patronizing here, which is not my intent. Rather, I think it important that we probe the idea of such team names as honorific before we accept that justification.

        Okay, well, that’s fair enough, but I don’t know that this is a reasonable conversation given that we’re talking about interpreting the actions of the long dead, particularly when (as I’ve already conceded a few times) the justification for doing something 100 years ago doesn’t speak well to the justification to continue doing something today.

        Because I’m tempted to think that the responses I would get to these questions could be used to justify a white-owned team being called “The Blacks” because, hey, blacks are fast and great at sports and we want to embody that spirit and honor them and we’ve had black players so…

        Hypothetical situation, let’s say some nice kid from the Republic of South Africa who happens to be Zulu comes to the U.S., wins the Heisman, is drafted in the first round by the Washington Redskins, wins the Superbowl four times in his first five years as a player, and then he’s tragically killed in a car accident. Dan Snyder renames the team “The Washington iziKhulu”, and has a traditionally-garbed guy as the mascot.

        Is that dehumanizing? I think we would agree not, right?

        A hundred years from now, could a couple of guys be arguing about whether or not it is dehumanizing? How is that different from the conversation we’re having now?

        (Spoiler: it’s different because we have the context right now, and we don’t have the context in 1912.)

        In case I haven’t made it clear, I do think that they should change the name, I don’t think the current Redskins’ fans have much of any claim at all to credibility to argue about it, and I think Dan Snyder is probably an asshole.

        Notre Dame is a different case because the name is generally attributed to Father William Corby, who served as a chaplain with the Union’s “Irish Brigade” during the civil war and as the President of Notre Dame. So, it did not originate as a slur against the Irish and their supposed drunken, pugilistic ways.

        How do you know any of that with a degree of certainty that makes you comfortable with judging the motivations and inclinations of whoever gave the name to the ND football team, while still leaving you so certain that Redskins was intended to be pejorative, in spite of any particularly reliable evidence pointing to those conclusions (other than, possibly, your own assessment of how pejorative “redskin” is vs “drunken, pugilistic Irishman”?)

        In any event, regardless of how it originated, if an Irish-American said, “Sorry, but right now it’s associating the Irish with drunken, pugilistic ways and the name ought to be changed”, would you disagree with them?

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      • Re: ND, you’ll see that directly below that I state I still think it is problematic. I just think it different than the Redskins.

        And I don’t think, in either case, the history matters as much as the present. Snyder doesn’t get to hide behind a 100-year-old story because he is wholly involved in it. He chooses now, everyday, to call his team the “Redskins” fully aware of the contemporary understanding and impact of that term. Similarly, the folks at ND choose now, everyday, to call their teams the “Fighting Irish” fully aware of the contemporary understanding and impact of that term. HOWEVER, the contemporary understanding and impact of Redskin is different than that of Fighting Irish, making it an apples-and-oranges comparison. Not apples and elephants… something much closer than that… but not apples to apples.

        Regarding your Zulu analogy, I am not familiar enough with the Zulu people to know the impact of that word. If you’ll indulge me, a bit more context would be helpful. If it is a general term for the Zulu people, I’m not sure how that honors a particular Zulu individual. I mean… if there was a team called the Berlin Americans, how do we determine if they are “honoring” George Washington or, I dunno, Timothy McVeigh? I mean, both were Americans, right? Wouldn’t it make more sense to honor Washington by naming them after him specifically?

        Coming full circle, while I’ll concede it isn’t fair to expect you to understand the motivations of long dead men, I do think asking those who defend the name (which I realize you do not) by claiming it to be an honorific to explain who it honors, what about them it honors, and how it shows that honor are fair questions. To date, I haven’t seen even the beginning of an answer that doesn’t double down on some serious offensiveness (e.g., “We honor their brave and noble spirit!” or “We honor their warrior ways and the resulting intimidation factor!”).

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      • Should we assume that we’re fighting a great civil rights fight and the name change will be a great civil rights victory?

        Is there a record of people doing this? I agree that that would be unfounded (though I don;t agree that it matters really at all if were doing it, but it perfectly valid for you to feel differently about that), but if it’s not happening, is there any problem with whatever advocacy is happening? Note: examples of people just advocating for this change are not examples of this assumption is being made. Clearly not every time people advocate for something or even organize a movement for it do they think that if they were to be successful they’d be achieving a major social victory. There was recently an organized campaign to stop a Buffalo Wild Wings from opening on the big street by my apartment. I’m not sure why they didn’t want it but they didn’t. It failed, but if it had succeeded, I don;t think it’s organizers would have thought they had won a major social victory. They just didn’t want a BW3s in the neighborhood.

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      • Were the people opposed to Buffalo Wild Wings framing their opposition as moral? My immediate intuition is that the majority of the opposition would be aesthetic… but I don’t know. (As opposed to, say, a Hooters coming in which I could see having moral opposition, if it came to that.)

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      • I don’t think so (though I’m not sure), but that’s not the standard you’ve articulated, or in any case not the one I’ve picked out here (you have to admit you’ve said a lot of different though things about this at this point – which is fine, it’s how we figure out what we really think). You yourself have acknowledged there might be a moral issue here. That people have framed this as a moral issue doesn’t demonstrate that they think that getting the name changed would constitute a major civil rights victory. The BW3s thing just shows that not all movements believe they are pursuing a major social victory; it has to be demonstrated that any given one does. The name-change crowd might indeed believe the need to change the name is more morally imperative than would be preventing the opening of a BW3s, but that also doesn’t demonstrate that they think it would be a major civil rights victory.

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      • So that’s the comparison that makes the most sense for you? Changing the name of Washington’s team is like opposition to a chain restaurant?

        I must admit, that’s not what makes the most sense to me.

        you have to admit you’ve said a lot of different though things about this at this point – which is fine, it’s how we figure out what we really think

        This is what I mean by cognitive dissonance.

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      • No, as I said it’s not a comparison at all. It’s just an example to show that just because there’s a movement for something, it doesn’t mean people in the movement think they’re pursuing a major civil rights victory. We’d have to demonstrate that people in the name change movement think they’re doing that, and you haven’t.

        If you’re telling me you’ve been saying the same thing throughout this thread, I’ll accept that simply because you say it’s true. We don’t have to have dissonance. Perhaps I’m reading too critically.

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    • … see this I sort of disagree with. Or, more precisely, I think it’s a shame that it’s viewed in this context. You can point to Banana Slugs, but someone else can point to Patriots, Cowboys, Miners, Mountaineers, Pirates, Spartans, etc. I think this would be a devestating argument if we didn’t, as a matter of tradition, name sports teams after types of people as well.

      Again, though, this is not to say that objections are invalid. There are reasons that it’s okay to use Spartans and Fighting Irish while it would not be okay to use Redskins or Indians. But I do think that comparisons of Indians to Bulldogs is kind of unfair and (IMO) distracting from the stronger argument (which is that this is our name, our identity, and our heritage, and they used it without asking).

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      • Well, there are often reasons for those other names. Patriots aren’t a “people” in the way we typically mean that word… they are not a race, faith, or ethnicity. They are a group of people who voluntarily chose to be identified as such and who embody values or traits that they’re seeking to honor.

        I struggle to see Redskins in that same light.

        And I also worry if you are now doing what you (rightfully) criticized myself and others for doing above, namely attempting to speak on behalf of others. If Mr. Lyons sees Redskins as akin to Bulldogs and does not like the association, should we really dismiss that argument because it might be inconvenient for people making other arguments?

        I don’t think what Mr. Lyons says is in disagreement with your last sentence there. He IS saying that this is a heritage, a people, an identity… it is not a mascot.

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      • If Mr. Lyons sees Redskins as akin to Bulldogs and does not like the association, should we really dismiss that argument because it might be inconvenient for people making other arguments?

        I mostly just think that particular argument is weak. I think it’s unfortunate that he sees it that way because, well, it just doesn’t seem quite right to me despite the fact that I am quite sympathetic to other arguments. And if I, who would be happy to see the Redskins name retired, feel that way, it strikes me as a problem argument.

        The Irish are an ethnicity, Texans are a resident of a place, the Spartans are a heritage… the list goes on and on to counter the argument that being there is like being an animal. I respect and acknowledge that he sees it that way, but I consider it a weak argument rather than the powerful one you cite it as.

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      • But I think his response speaks perfectly to how some people receive having their identity used as a mascot. Whether that is how it is intended, that is how it is received.

        Let’s be honest… Spartans and Vikings are not people who walk the streets of our society every day. Cartoonish portrayals of those people doesn’t contribute to a dehumanization of real people. That’s not the case with Native Americans. Native Americans are real people. They aren’t Redskins and they sure as hell don’t look like Chief Wahoo. But the public portrayal of them as such influences how people think about the real Native Americans… the people walking the streets of contemporary society.

        If we start to talk about, say, the issue of alcoholism on reservations and people think about Chief Wahoo instead of flesh-and-blood Native Americans, no more or less human than they, you don’t think that risks influencing the conversation?

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      • Kazzy, the problem for me is that every good argument you make rests on some other, stronger argument. And not the notion that being a mascot is inherently and obviously offensive. Because it’s not inherently and universally offensive. It’s (arguably) offensive in some manifestations, to some people.

        Trying to argue that being a mascot is ipso facto offensive and dehumanizing is a tough sell even to many who are broadly sympathetic to them in the larger issue.

        I’m not saying that the guy should sit down and shut up. I am saying that this argument is weak and stands on the shoulders of other, stronger arguments, in order to have any effect.

        To me, the convincing part of the argument is not that that it’s offensive to use a group of people – even an ethnicity – as a sports team name, but what makes these cases (Redskins, Wahoo, Tomahawk Chop) different from those cases where it is not offensive.

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      • ” I do think that comparisons of Indians to Bulldogs is kind of unfair…”

        Although it is amusing to apply that “mascot isomorphism” argument to other sports teams.

        “Stanford has a tree, Purdue has a train, therefore American sports fans think that trees and trains are the same thing!”

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  11. My medical school was a state school, chartered specifically for the purpose of educating medical providers for the state. Admission was heavily weighted toward in-state applicants, who came from all over the state. Many were from the two major metropolitan areas, but many others were from very rural parts.

    One colleague of mine from such an area had not grown up around any minorities to speak of. His first meaningful, prolonged interactions with people from minority groups were when he went off to our school. I was, for example, the first (openly) gay person he ever met.

    He was a really friendly guy, charming and charismatic. Quite a rake, as well.

    So one night at a party, he got into a conversation with me and a few other students, including a black student. And he asked me if, because we were friends, that meant he could playfully call me “faggot” in the bandying way that gay men might sometimes use the term with each other. He posed a similar question to the black student, swapping in “nigger” instead.

    My question in return, to which I never got a satisfactory answer, was “Why would you want to? Why is it important to you to be able to use this word?”

    I sincerely do not understand why members of the majority, which has historically used terms of abuse against various minority populations, feel compelled to protest when those minority groups seek to reclaim and disempower those epithets. I do not understand why white people protest that they should be able to use “nigger” if black people do. I have no idea why my friend (and he was, truly, my friend) wanted a special privilege to use “faggot” when other straight people knew they oughtn’t.

    So I really don’t understand when, upon finally realizing that maybe Native Americans deserve better than to be caricatured and used as mascots in the manner of animals or weather patterns, sports fans don’t, out of simple human courtesy, find something else to call their team. Why is it so very, very important?

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    • The whole fracas surrounding Mark Twain’s use of the word Nigger arises every time some imbecilic Politically Correct soul wants to Keep our Libraries Pure. Mark Twain painted a stark picture of American slavery and its casual racism and he used the word to good effect. No other word would have sufficed. Huckleberry Finn belongs on the bookshelf. We cannot evict the word entirely.

      In his own time, Huckleberry Finn was denounced as a bad example for youth. These days, it’s denounced for its use of the word Nigger. There’s always someone to take offence at such things, especially when the arrow has hit the ugly target so squarely.

      Twain to one such librarian:

      Dear Sir:

      I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn for adults exclusively, & it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, & to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave. Ask that young lady – she will tell you so.

      Most honestly do I wish I could say a softening word or two in defence of Huck’s character, since you wish it, but really in my opinion it is no better than God’s (in the Ahab & 97 others), & the rest of the sacred brotherhood.

      If there is an Unexpurgated [Bible] in the Children’s Department, won’t you please help that young woman remove Tom & Huck from that questionable companionship?

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      • Heh. As Twain got older, he grew more bitter and he had his reasons. There’s this wonderful bit from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven, when Stormfield asks why there are no white angels.

        “Well, you will find it the same in any State or Territory of the American corner of heaven you choose to go to. I have shot along, a whole week on a stretch, and gone millions and millions of miles, through perfect swarms of angels, without ever seeing a single white one, or hearing a word I could understand. You see, America was occupied a billion years and more, by Injuns and Aztecs, and that sort of folks, before a white man ever set his foot in it. During the first three hundred years after Columbus’s discovery, there wasn’t ever more than one good lecture audience of white people, all put together, in America–I mean the whole thing, British Possessions and all; in the beginning of our century there were only 6,000,000 or 7,000,000–say seven; 12,000,000 or 14,000,000 in 1825; say 23,000,000 in 1850; 40,000,000 in 1875. Our death-rate has always been 20 in 1000 per annum. Well, 140,000 died the first year of the century; 280,000 the twenty-fifth year; 500,000 the fiftieth year; about a million the seventy-fifth year. Now I am going to be liberal about this thing, and consider that fifty million whites have died in America from the beginning up to to-day–make it sixty, if you want to; make it a hundred million– it’s no difference about a few millions one way or t’other.

        Well, now, you can see, yourself, that when you come to spread a little dab of people like that over these hundreds of billions of miles of American territory here in heaven, it is like scattering a ten-cent box of homoeopathic pills over the Great Sahara and expecting to find them again. You can’t expect us to amount to anything in heaven, and we DON’T–now that is the simple fact, and we have got to do the best we can with it. The learned men from other planets and other systems come here and hang around a while, when they are touring around the Kingdom, and then go back to their own section of heaven and write a book of travels, and they give America about five lines in it.

        And what do they say about us? They say this wilderness is populated with a scattering few hundred thousand billions of red angels, with now and then a curiously complected DISEASED one. You see, they think we whites and the occasional nigger are Injuns that have been bleached out or blackened by some leprous disease or other–for some peculiarly rascally SIN, mind you. It is a mighty sour pill for us all, my friend–even the modestest of us, let alone the other kind, that think they are going to be received like a long-lost government bond, and hug Abraham into the bargain. I haven’t asked you any of the particulars, Captain, but I judge it goes without saying–if my experience is worth anything–that there wasn’t much of a hooraw made over you when you arrived–now was there?

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    • To some people, it allows them to express that you’re a “real friend” (friend enough that they can cross quite real boundaries, I suppose).

      I don’t actually get this, but then again, I’m not fond of the type of bandying humor that leads people to even ask this.

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    • Well said, . I tried to make a similar argument above but, as usual, you made it far better.

      I can say “faggot” and “nigger” all I want. My mouth can form those words and make those sounds. There might be consequences for the words, but I can use them. And I have said them, the former in hateful ways during a less informed time and both in academic settings. But I don’t use them otherwise. Because I have zero interest in using them. And I don’t get why so many people are so huffy about the fact that they shouldn’t use those words.

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      • , agreeing with Saunders : “I can say “faggot” and “nigger” all I want. My mouth can form those words and make those sounds. There might be consequences for the words, but I can use them.”

        I think this gets at the heart of it better than anything I’ve seen so far here, Kaz and Russell.

        What people in the majority are really fighting for in these kinds of fights isn’t permission to use words or symbols. No one, so far as I know, is starting a credible movement to make it illegal for the Washington Redskins to remain named as is. Likewise, no one is asking to jail people who say “faggot” or “nigger,” and no one is proposing we fine people who want to have confederate flag decals on their cars and pickups. Permission to use these words and symbols, even a corporation like the ‘Skins, is a red herring.

        What people arguing for, really, is the ability to use them free of consequences.

        It’s like the Confederate flag. For you, it might be a symbol of rebellion, or tradition, or history, or even – to take examples people have actually given me for why they flew it – a symbol of being a redneck or a “s**tkicker.” It may have nothing at all to do with blacks, and you may not have a racist bone in your body.

        But if you decide to fly it, you are agreeing to accept certain negative judgements because of what the Confederate flag symbolizes to such a huge segment of our country. And not just liberals and African Americans. There’s a reason its so often associated with white supremacist groups: those people claim it as theirs by embedding the same symbolism in it that so many African Americans do. So it’s important to keep in mind that if you want to proudly display the Stars & Bars that a lot of people are going to make judgements of you that you probably don’t want them to make. And if that’s OK with you, then hey – go for it.

        If you don’t like that others have a negative opinion of the words and symbols you like to wear on your sleeve, tough noogies. You have the freedom to wear that sleeve; you don’t have the freedom to not have consequences for wearing it.

        Which brings me to my final point, which is this: Forget everything else, the Washington Redskins’ owners and management are eventually going to change their mascot for business reasons.

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      • There was an argument regarding what was or wasn’t patronizing or racist, I don’t remember which OP (I think it was about the Georgia state flag), but I got into the weeds with Tom and said… well, pretty much what you said here.

        You can adopt symbols of meaning to yourself (plural you, here) and you have a right to do that, sure, knock yourself out.

        But you don’t have the right to demand that other people grant special recognition to the meaning you attach to the symbol, and you have to respect the fact that symbols are symbols, and other people can attach other meanings to your symbols, some of which may be pejorative.

        If you don’t like that, don’t use symbols.

        In order to have something to say about what the symbol means, you have to have standing in the group that’s applying the meaning. If you want to talk about what the Confederate Flag means to someone who is from Georgia, rather than tell the Georgian what the flag means, you should probably listen to what the Georgian says the flag means to him (or her), as they have standing to say what the flag means to Georgians, on account of they are one. On the other hand, a white Georgian can blather on all they want about what the flag means to them, but they don’t get to tell a Yankee, or a black person from Georgia, or somebody else, how they ought to feel about the flag.

        This is kinda what Jaybird is talking about on this thread, I think. We’re talking a lot about what the team moniker means, but hey, we’re not really the group that has standing to find the thing offensive.

        That doesn’t make it offensive, or inoffensive.

        The right thing to do, I suspect, is to listen and let other people tell us what meaning they attach to a symbol than to start arguing amongst ourselves what the symbols mean or don’t mean.

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    • I’ve never liked when Jews attempted to use anti-Semitic terms or reclaim them. There is a supposedly young and hip Jewish magazine called “HEEB”. I really dislike that they call themselves HEEB.

      http://heebmagazine.com/

      There is another site called Jewcy. That name bugs me but not as much as Heeb.

      I’ve always preferred the more intellectual and cerebral Jewish magazine called Guilt and Pleasure (I think it went defunct) or the on-line Tablet. Both of those are better names.

      So it does make feel odd when I hear other minorities using various epiphets to describe themselves. I don’t try to stop. Just voice my opinion about how I feel on my congregants using anti-Semitic terms.

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      • In spite of (actually, congruent with) my comment below, I do think some terms simply should not be used regardless who uses them. I’m not going to actually tell someone from a given group not to use the word. Frankly, unless I’m asked my opinion, it’s usually not my place to say, although I’m saying it here as a general proposition.

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    • I do not understand why white people protest that they should be able to use “nigger” if black people do. I have no idea why my friend (and he was, truly, my friend) wanted a special privilege to use “faggot” when other straight people knew they oughtn’t.

      I also don’t understand why white people don’t get that when a black person uses the n-word or a gay person uses the q-word, it’s different from when a white person does.

      That doesn’t mean I think the use of such words is necessarily defensible (and I understand New Dealer’s internalist objection to some Jewish people’s trying to appropriate antisemitic to their own use), but there is a certain cluelessness among folks who don’t see why it might be different when a member of a marginalized community tries to use an epithet generally applied to that community.

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      • “I also don’t understand why white people don’t get that when a black person uses the n-word or a gay person uses the q-word, it’s different from when a white person does.”

        Really?

        “You can’t say (n-word).”
        “Why not?”
        “Because it’s a bad word that carries a legacy of racism.”
        “Okay, I guess, but what’s racism?”
        “It’s when you treat someone differently because of their ethnic background, like when you say ‘you can’t do this because you’re black’.”
        “Okay, that makes sense. Thanks!”
        “you whatup (n-word)!”
        “Hey hang on, I thought that was a bad word that carried a legacy of racism!”
        “No, only when you do it.”
        “So, wait, you’re saying that there are words I can’t say because I’m white? Isn’t that treating me differently because of my ethnic background?”
        “Shut up, you fucking racist.”

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      • “It’s when you treat someone differently because of their ethnic background, like when you say ‘you can’t do this because you’re black’.”

        Really? Here’s one alternative definition. From Conservapedia.

        Racism is prejudice and discrimination based on race. An example is a claim that of inferiority or superiority based on the color of one’s skin. Another example was the Jim Crow laws. Racism means the hatred of another person because of the color of his or her skin; some used the term racism for perceived difference in origin.

        The grammar errors are sic.

        Of course, the same entry says the following, which may clarify some issues re: liberals seemingly different views on the topic:

        Liberals attempt to divide the races into different social classes through the use of racial quotas and affirmative action. While most Americans look forward to a “post-racial America,” where race is not a factor in a person’s success, liberal interests demand that people’s success depend on government intervention, and so attempt to artificially affect hiring and admissions decisions in order to keep certain people dependent on and grateful to the government for their livelihoods.

        It is unknown why liberals feel the need to interfere in the lives and careers of hard-working African Americans, but it is likely due to a condescending attitude towards the African American community, which boasts some of the highest church attendance rates in the country and is therefore directly opposed to the liberal secularist agenda.

        {{Our very own Roger could have written that passage.}}

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      • You are confusing equity and equality. I did a lecture with my 7th and 8th graders on that very topic on Tuesday. Would you like the notes?

        An example that helped them understand it related to gendered rest rooms. We don’t put urinals in women’s bathrooms, right?

        Now, the difference with race is less physical/biological and more social/historical… But simply treating people differently because of race being inherently racist is an overly simplistic interpretation of an increasingly outdated definition.

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      • I don’t know about JIm but I would love to see how you define equity and equality. Sounds like it would make a great post. To tell the truth I’m not sure how either equity or equality fit into your bathroom urinal example. Would be interesting to see how that example is fleshed out.

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      • I define equity as assuring that everybody is treated in a manner consistent with their needs and equality as assuring that everybody is treated the same. As such, equality is a subset of equity, as sometimes treating people according to needs is treating them the same… But not always.

        Regarding bathrooms, strictly equal treatment would mean urinals in all bathrooms or no bathrooms. This is not the typical situation, nor should it be, as men’s need for urinals is different than that of women.

        Some situations demand equality and some do not; all demand equity. But not all differentiations in treatment are necessarily equitable (e.g., the students zeroed in on the dress code, which is different for males and females).

        And, of course, there is the question of how to handle competing needs.

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      • I will assume your confusion is expressed in good faith and is not a canard, which is a big assumption to make. But here goes…

        I, for one, don’t really like calling other gay people “faggot” or being called one myself by another gay person. I find it unpleasant. However, it’s done often enough that I’ve grown inured to it. (Or rather, I was back when I spent more time at gay bars and clubs. I rarely hear it these days, when my nightlife usually consists of an exciting rotation of “Project Runway” and falling asleep on the couch.) We get to use it because, in a strange, counter-intuitive way, it acknowledges our shared experience and signals a sense of solidarity. “You and I are alike in this way that has set us apart from the mainstream, and has caused us similar problems. We will take from that shared experience something negative and, defiantly, make it our own. We get to take some sting out of the slur by using it ourselves and making it a joke.”

        You do not share those troubles. You did not earn the right to make those jokes with us, because you’ve never been that kind of punchline for straight bigotry yourself. Perhaps that strikes you as unfair, but since not having to worry about how people are going to react to you and your family when you sit down in a restaurant is also kind of unfair, it seems a silly thing to get bent out of shape about on your end.

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      • Interesting. I was reading the definitions of each before I posted and thought to myself. Seems like when equity and equality are used in social terms they are open to many interpretations and meanings. When a definition of a term has fairness in it I think there will be as many interpretations of that word as there are people asked what it means.

        Well off to work I go. Thanks for the response.

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      • You hit the nail on the head when you note that invoking “fairness” can be essentially meaningless.

        Going in a different direction, I often read the Little Red Hen tale with my PreK kids (that’s the one where the Little Red Hen does all the work to make the bread/cake and then all the animals want to help eat it once it is done; some interpretations have them getting a share and some have them left out in the cold*) and ask them what would be a fair ending. Their responses are all over the map, which I think shows that “fair” doesn’t really have a concrete meaning, but is highly contextual.

        Ultimately, that was what I tried to stress to my students: the goal is to treat people as well as possible, including yourself among the “people”, and being mindful of context. But I thought it important to challenge the idea that equality = fairness, as a quick look around the world tells us otherwise (e.g., we don’t let 5-year-olds vote or drive cars; we don’t let blind people drive busses; we don’t put urinals in women’s rooms). As noted above, not all differentiations in treatment are necessarily equitable or fair (e.g., we don’t let 20-year-olds drink alcohol; male students at my school are required to wear ties while females are required to wear skirts).

        * A modern interpretation turns the story on its head with the other animals conspiring to teach the Little Red Hen to be more independent and to not always rely on others.

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      • An orthopaedic surgeon of my acquaintance has a urinal in his home bathroom, the only one I’ve ever seen in a home. A urinal in a bathroom removes that room from the domain of “women’s bathrooms” by definition.

        Marcel Duchamp, that hilarious little man, took a urinal and want to call it a work of art, labelling his “Fountain” — but the Society of Independent Artists didn’t install this piece of art in the women’s bathroom. They didn’t install it at all. Various replicas have been installed in various museums. Unsurprisingly, several folks have tried to urinate in them. Form follows function, especially with bodily functions.

        Nobody gets to relabel Equity and call it Fairness unless you want to make like Duchamp and have a little fun at the expense of the art critics. Equity is one of the fuzziest concepts in law. Federal courts have subsumed it into the rules of civil procedure. Judges are at considerable liberty to apply common sense to their judgments in civil court where criminal courts are bound by sentencing guidelines. Fair is what the judge says is fair. We don’t get to tell each other what’s fair any more than we can call a urinal a fountain or say we can install a urinal in a women’s bathroom. It’s the sign on the door which makes it a women’s bathroom, not the plumbing.

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      • Aitch, I’ve heard Roger make that exact same argument about liberal policy wrt blacks (except for the church part) too many times to believe I was dragging him through anything.

        I’ll concede, however, there was no need to drag him into this.

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      • Stillwater

        I just stumbled upon this thread.

        Even though I will argue that government redistribution and privilege creates unhealthy dependency, I disagree with the broader sentiments and political position of that quote.

        You found an opinion I would support (political handouts create dependency and rent seeking) buried it within an opinion I would not support from a political position which I reject . And then said I could have written it.

        If you wish to debate the political dependency thing I suggest we do so under a separate topic starting with a clean slate.

        Is that fair?

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      • That is, it’s a lot like my not minding when a fellow programmer calls me a geek but disliking hearing it from a salesman, except that there aren’t millions of salesmen just dying to yell “geek” at me.

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  12. I wonder if anyone at Pretty Bird Woman House cares?
    Talk about shit like this obscures actual problems,
    deflates the vim and vigor of the side who might
    actually think there’s something wrong with
    folks who think the only thing that a reservation is good for
    is providing nice women to rape.

    And that there’s something wrong with a system that allows
    stuff like this to continue.

    Something that’s more wrong than simply the rape itself,
    if that’s possible, which it is.

    For crying out loud, this is a lot less significant to someone’s
    life than the alcoholism rampant on reservations.

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    • Is it? Seriously, think about it.

      What’s the first thing soldiers do to their enemies in war? Come up with a slur for them. Dehumanize them. Make them “not like us”. “not real people, like you and me”.

      That’s what slurs DO. They dehumanize the other. Reduce them. Yes, me calling a black man by a racial slur is nowhere NEAR as damaging to him as me, say, knifing him. (Or calling a Native American a redskin to her face is nowhere near as damaging as raping her would be, to use your example).

      But when an entire culture — or even a sizeable chunk of it — cleaves to these slurs, these derogatory terms that signify “the thing which I am referring to is less than me, subhuman, not as good as me” — that’s what creates and perpetuates a culture in which treating them like subhumans is socially acceptable.

      Dropping n-bombs isn’t the same as segregating blacks from whites and separate drinking fountains or casual lynchings — but a society comfortable with such terms is a society that inevitably leads to such things.

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      • These are small ills, that cumulatively add up. I agree, they show there is a problem.

        But, really, when folks are burning down womens’ shelters to show their disagreement
        with the very idea that women might be accorded some succor after being raped?

        … yeah, I’d say we have bigger problems.

        And a LOT of the people you’ll spend time arguing with about the small ills, will be right onboard (possibly with pitchforks, rural folks ya know…) with fixing the big problems.

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      • Curiously, soldiers who fought each other have great respect for the men who were shooting at them. This has been true, time out of mind.

        John McCain, one of the longest-serving prisoners of war in American history, was seen to hug his tormentor. McCain’s a uniquely valorous human being, in that he not only survived a terrible shootdown and torture — but did not allow himself to be given special treatment when it was offered. He could have gotten out far earlier: he was an admiral’s son. He refused.

        McCain did break under torture, everyone breaks, I’m told. It’s just a question of when. I don’t like his politics but I admire his grit. He survived some dark nights. He was among the first American politicians to return to Vietnam. Even the Vietnamese admired him.

        Slurs and slanders are a dime a dozen. Wars do reduce the enemy to caricatures, but that’s just propaganda. But for those who’ve fought the wars, there’s a unique bond forged between the fighters.

        After the Civil War, a reunion was held at Gettysburg, both Union and Confederate veterans. A re-enactment of Pickett’s Charge was held. As the old Confederates marched out of those woods, many of them on canes, the Union veterans rose up from behind the stone wall, running forward, weeping, to embrace the Confederates.

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      • I do not believe the arson at Pretty Bird House was ever solved. Standing Rock Reservation is an anarchic rat’s nest where nobody’s in charge and everyone’s got some mandate.

        Domestic violence is a huge problem within the native American community. A good deal of it is hushed up. Of course, nobody talks about the lack of decent governance on The Rez or lack of law enforcement or the fished-up tribal courts or the casino corruption, all that cash sloshing around in buckets. Our native American brethren are not exactly Noble Savages and it’s high time we quit carrying on as if they were. They’re people like us.

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      • Blaise,
        yeah, sure, nobody talks about casino corruption.
        I know a guy who helped do a ton of the research on that subject.

        Yeah, some of it’s internal, but a good deal of it comes
        from white people outside the reservations.

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      • Yeah, yeah. Let’s blame the White People. Not quite done with the Ethnic Slurs, eh? These tribal councils, they’re just fuller o’ saints than the basement of St Peter’s in Rome is full of popes. And those native guys, if they beat on their wives and murder them and The Rez sits there with one thumb in its mouth and the other thumb up its collective ass, we can blame that on the White Man, too. Not that the tribe wants to cede any powers of arrest to the county mounties or the local constabulary, no ma’am. None of that for us. We’re sovereign nations. You betcha.

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      • Blaise,
        You’ll forgive me if I save the accusation of wife-beating until I see the bruises.
        Sure enough, I see plenty around here.

        But I think we’ll both agree that something needs to be done, inside and out.

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      • I’m not the one dragging in Sob Stories about the Pretty Bird Woman arson. Most battered women’s shelters have some security, knowing these wife beaters are likely to exact revenge on the helping agency.

        The Rez is a farce, a gigantic pity party, a swamp of self-pity and learned helplessness, poverty and crime. There’s no justice, there’s no democracy, there are beatings aplenty, murders too. Nothing gets done about them. Try Googling up the name Annie Mae Aquash, see where it takes you.

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  13. I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say about the Redskins, but I do find the knee-jerk conservative comments to be pretty funny. It says a lot about the mentality that has come to dominate the right.

    I remember the earlier PC wars of the 90s, when some professor would use the word “niggardly” in a classroom and the Multicultural Student Union would storm the administration building and demand that professor be fired. Maybe it was just the absolute absurdity of what the left looked like at that time, but conservative voices certainly held the mantle of reasonableness. At that time, the strength of the conservative opinion on political correctness was that conservatives rightly opposed moral relativism. That is, they understood that once politics just becomes a blind power struggle, with no objective moral, ethical and qualitative measures to serve as a guide, we are all lost.

    Today it seems that the right has abandoned that objection to moral relativism and embraced what can best be described as a neo-reactionary ideology. Where conservatives once had interesting things to say about the evolution of American culture, now it’s mostly stuff like “how come there’s no white history month?”

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    • Yeah, that was probably one of the biggest massacres in Pennsylvania, killing twenty Indians in the course of several attacks, with the whites being thrown in jail for it. It kind of makes my point.

      The worst Indian massacre in Montana history was an outrage that saw 170 Indians killed. Most states are like that, suffering a few hundred dead in their worst ever massacres, aside from the Trail of Tears which was a horrible screw up that wasn’t meant to kill anyone. Try putting that in the context of European history. Imagine a Europe where the worst battle in all of France or Germany, over the course of two centuries, was a hundred or so people killed instead of tens of thousands on the flank of a battle that people barely remember, which occurred during the course of a campaign, which occurred in the course of a war.

      Then when you look again at what was going on in North America, it starts to seem like the only thing here were occasional gangs of sci-fi nerds who would do a drive-by shooting once every twenty years, with a big throw-down involving a couple hundred people every fifty years or so. There were bar-brawls in Europe that were worse than that.

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      • Sure. If you look at the number of deaths in the U.S. resulting from the Indian Wars that took place in the latter half of the 19th century, the number of deaths is in the thousands. And it is certainly not difficult to find a 40 or 50 year period in Europe with a number of deaths that dwarfs the U.S. total. However, if you look at the totality of what happened to the Native American population across the Western Hemisphere from the time that Europeans arrived, you get a bit more of a dramatic story.

        And then once you add the effects of the African slave trade, the comparisons begin to change a bit.

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      • And it is certainly not difficult to find a 40 or 50 year period in Europe with a number of deaths that dwarfs the U.S. total.

        You can find days in Europe that match the US sum total. Take the Battle of the Somme, where about 34,000 people were killed on the first day, and the fighting went on for almost six months between a million participants, and this was just a big battle of an ongoing war that went on for almost four years.

        Then you go and read about huge US/Indian wars, such as the Sioux wars that spanned an area bigger than most European nations like France and produced several hundred dead, instead of several hundred thousand dead.

        One of the largest engagements ever fought on the Great Plains was the First Battle of Adobe Walls, with Kit Carson employing artillery and everything else he had against a large force of Comanche and Kiowa. The fighting raged for six to eight hours and the US suffered six dead, and we’re pretty sure we killed at least one Indian, and possibly killed or wounded up to sixty of them, though those claims may be exaggerated.

        The Second Battle of Adobe Walls, a major fight that occurred ten years later, went on for four days and twenty people were killed, 4 US hunters and 16 Indians.

        That’s how big the difference is between European battlefields and anything happening in the Indian wars.

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      • That’s why I proposed expanding your view beyond the Indian Wars to the totality of interactions between European settlers and the native population.

        Also, I’ve never really understood the point of excusing one set of bad actions by comparing it to worse actions. Does that work in the real world? Can someone be acquitted on a murder charge by bringing up some other guy who killed more people than he did?

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  14. The term ‘redskins’ comes from the early 1700’s, when King Phillip paid a bounty on scalps. 50 pounds for scalps of men 12 and over, 25 pounds for scalps of women 12 and over, and 20 pounds for scalps of children under 12.

    Removing the scalp was bloody work, so red skins. Blood red skin. Paid on every member of the Algonquin tribes.

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  15. Correction here; that’s the “Phips” proclamation.

    I grew up in what was called “Phips Canada” in the original land grants from King George. I now live in it’s neighboring land grant, Sudbury Canada. As if nobody else lived here, and the land was the King George’s to give away.

    My childhood home was originally called Rockomeko; the place where members of the eastern Algonquin tribes gathered before leaving for The St. John River Valley in Canada. These tribes were aligned with the French, and received cruel treatment at the hands of the English; particularly the bounty, for there were few of them left after the epidemics of small pox in particular. My father’s mother comes from these people, intermingled with French traders and trappers. My mother’s family were aligned with the English, receiving land in payment for fighting in King Philips War.

    So ‘redskin’ is part of my history; a brutal part. It is like flying a confederate flag or tattooing a swastika on your chest.

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  16. “And treating it like anything but a small victory is untoward”

    Who’s treating it as anything other than a small victory? Certainly not the original post.

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      • I had a sneaky suspicion your criteria for “treated as important” was gonna include “single person somewhere, no matter how whacko or passionate, believing that it’s important.” Dude, if that’s right, you already won the bet.

        At great risk to your reputation, I might add.

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      • Dunno. I’m not the one interested in gambling on what the range of reactions to Name-Gate might be. I’m sure it’ll be full spectrum, tho. I mean, we had people on this site arguing that white males aren’t privileged wrt to blacks and women, everything imaginable is on the table. I just find your efforts to wager on outcomes – vaguely defined, natch – which are entirely expected sort of amusing.

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      • I would say first of all that we’d have to exclude responses from anyone either whose job or primary interest in the matter relates to sports/sports media/sports culture etc. Obviously in those quarters, a fair number of people are bound to say this is important. That’s just a first pass, though.

        I’d also point out that just in this mini-thread there’s no clarity on what we’re talking about. First you all were talking about whether it’d be anything more than a small victory. Then, as if it were precisely another name for that characterization “anything but [which I take to mean “more than”] a small victory” the question became whether people would treat it as “important.” But, of course, who would deny the possibility of small victories that are important? We’re not clear what we want to agree this shouldn’t be sen as being. Luckily, it’s not very important what this would be seen as being by those whose ethnicity the name doesn’t make reference to.

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      • If it shows up in a major newspaper quoting people (“official spokespeople”) who say “this is important”, does that count?

        I mean… it’s very easy to look at pretty much anything and say “is that all there is?”

        What measurement would qualify as giving us reason to raise an eyebrow at the “half empty” people rather than the “half full”?

        “Impromptu parades”? Riots? Crucifixion re-enactments?

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      • however, I will concur with your sentiments in small part as I just learned the issue of the Washington NFL football team name was a question in last evening’s Virginia gubernatorial debate.

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      • Jaybird,

        Once again, you appear to have some position, but are entirely unwilling to make clear just where that position is and are asking others to do the clarifying for you. To me this all reads as, Let others put themselves on the line so I can attack their positions, but I’ll keep my position vague enough so any attack can be deflected as misinterpretation.

        I think that’s a really shitty way of engaging with other people, and I think anyone who continues to try to substantively engage with you is making a fundamental error in assuming that you are actually willing to be engaged in that way.

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      • Once again, you appear to have some position, but are entirely unwilling to make clear just where that position is and are asking others to do the clarifying for you.

        I’m not certain that Jaybird’s position is relevant, though.

        To me this all reads as, Let others put themselves on the line so I can attack their positions, but I’ll keep my position vague enough so any attack can be deflected as misinterpretation.

        That’s going with a long-underlying and common theme around here that the exchange is a debate, with positions, and attacks.

        Which is a totally fair assumption on a lot of threads, sure. We’re all pretty good at dicking around over who owes the burden of proof on those sorts of threads.

        But when someone says, “This is a big problem!” and someone else says, “Eh, I don’t see this as the same size problem that you do.” and then the first person responds with, “Why isn’t this a problem”… well, actually, it’s on the first person to explain why it’s a problem, and how big of a problem it is, because the first person is doing the assertion in the first place, right? Even if we were having a debate?

        And if we’re not having a debate (and from the standpoint of Jaybird’s comments, I’m thinking he’s willing to concede, okay, this might be a problem so go ahead and make the change), it’s still kind of on the first guy to communicate what exactly he (or she) is trying to accomplish.

        Sometimes asking for clarification is a dodge to get the other guy to accept the burden of proof, so that you can nail them when they put crap out there.

        Sometimes, though, asking for clarification is just attempting to further your understanding. “You have a position. It doesn’t quite make sense to me. Can you explain it?” is also often responded to with, “YOU EXPLAIN YOURSELF FIRST, MISTER!”

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      • Eh, That’s OK as a first response, but the more you continue to insist that others are wrong, the more necessary it is that you defend your own position.

        And of course it’s OK to ask for clarification, but when others do try to clarify, and ask you also for clarification, but you continue to critique their clarifications without providing your own in response?* Throughout an extended discussion keeping all the responsiblity on the other and acceptng little to none yourself? I don’t think your justification covers that case.

        *The generall you, not you, Pat C.

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      • Or let me put it this way. If I’m going to get into an extended argument with others about why I think they’re wrong, I’m going to put myself on the line to whatever extent I’m asking them to put themselves on the line. And I’m not going to bother to hide my disdain for those who aren’t likewise willing to put themselves on the line as much as they expect others to.

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      • James, the fundamental problem (which Stillwater admirably pointed out) was that “a big deal” is, fundamentally, a matter of taste.

        There are people out there who would see changing the name as “a big deal” while there are others out there who are merely vaguely aware that there is an “NFL” out there for the Americans who don’t know what “football” implies to more than 90% of the planet.

        Indeed, a case can be made that, no matter who gets elected president in 2016, an appropriate response would be “meh” if not “that’s not a big deal”.

        How would one go about measuring a matter of taste? How would we go about saying whether something is or is not a big deal? See my shrugging as acknowledging that “a big deal” is about as subjective as anything else and hammering down something subjective is… well. Not likely to be fruitful.

        That said, it does seem to me that there will be some groups (surely speaking on behalf of others) who will explain that this is, indeed, a big deal and comparisons to other things that, historically, have been categorized as “a big deal” will be made by these people.

        And yet, as Stillwater points out, it’s perfectly reasonable to respond to these claims by saying “big deal”.

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      • Noted. I have no idea how to respond, other than to say I think our minds are wired so differently we might as well be alien species to each other in our attempts to communicate.

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