In an article entitled “Complicated People, Complicated History” writer Eric Metaxas wrote that humans are complicated and so is the history they make.
“This applies to Columbus, George Washington, Martin Luther King, and every son of Adam and daughter of Eve,” he wrote. Thinking people …“should appreciate this fact and leave the simplistic myths to the ideologues.”
Apparently half the U.S. Senate is filled with simplistic ideologues. Don’t they have more important things to do? Incredulously not.
It was reported last week that half the U.S. Senate urged National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to change the Washington Redskins’ name. In an obviously politically-motivated letter to the NFL, the senators wrote that the name “Redskins” is a racist slur.
America — its history and its people — is far from perfect. As a human endeavor, America can’t be perfect. All we can hope for is the will, wisdom, means and grace to continue to strive for the perfection we can never achieve. Striving for perfection, though, shouldn’t mean eradicating our history.
Half the Senate (only Democrats signed the letter) doesn’t seem to understand the complexity of our history or the folly of their letter to the NFL. While it might be a flawless policy in an unattainable perfect world to change the name “Redskins,” or any other word or idea that offends, it is overly simplistic to do so.
Admittedly I’m a WASP, a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. So except for that I’m a male and, as a male, incessantly beat up over “being from Mars” and for the whole “it’s a man’s world thing,” I have not felt the sting of discrimination.
Unless you count Christian — a group of which I am also a member — a religious sect discriminated against for eons. So let’s count Christian at least for now. Christians have been persecuted — and continue to be in some places — harder and longer than “indigenous American peoples” (we’ll call Indians “indigenous peoples” from now on because the label “Indians” was applied ignorantly by the white man centuries ago).
Look. I understand many Americans were discriminated against — sometimes violently — and the legacy of that past can continue to harshly affect them. And being a WASP, while I can empathize I can’t really know. Among others, American Indians comprise one group with a rightful claim to discrimination.
Of those groups with such a claim, though, many don’t whine about being “dissed,” discriminated against, dismissed, disadvantaged, discouraged, dishonored or whatever “dis” you want to apply here. They could have. But most see little point in wallowing in self-pity. But there are some who seem to revel in being eternally disadvantaged. And others (like half the Senate) who like to make political leverage from the indigenous peoples’ historic disadvantage.
Nonetheless, if we’re striving for simplistic responses to indigenous peoples being dissed, why stop with the Redskins? Why not pursue ingenuous changes over which the Senate actually has some control (as opposed to a private football team’s name over which they hold no sway) like the military? Why not forbid the use of the names of the military’s Iroquois, Apache, and Cayuse helicopters? Why no whirlybird offense?
And while the Senate is at it, why not forbid the use of indigenous American people names for military units like the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Air Support Squadron-1 (the “Chieftains”) or the Army’s 2d Infantry Division (“Indianhead”)? Or force a change to ships named after indigenous American people tribes like the USNS Navajo and the USNS Sioux?
Why not? Because half the Senate would offend thinking (and voting) people everywhere with the Senate’s simplicity and stupidity.
Maybe the Senate should start a letter campaign to change the name of the Potomac River. And God forbid Oklahoma’s name (Choctaw for “Red People”) should remain in place.
And while we’re busily attempting the impossible task of eradicating offense, as a Christian I’m offended about the use of the Saints, the Padres, and the Demon Deacons. But you’ll rarely see a Democratic senator criticize a Christian religious slur like they’re so quick to jump on a so-called racial slur.
As an animal lover, I’m offended with the use of the Tigers, the Stallions, and the Golden Bears too. If anybody has a right to be angry about being dissed by humans, it’s animals.
In New York’s Chenango County is a town named Oneida, which is Iroquoian for “Land of the Bull thistle.” By far, the best letter-writing campaign would be to call for renaming the Democratic half of the Senate “Oneida.”
But those are pretty ridiculous, unthinking, simple, ideologue ideas, right? Right.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.