If We Must, We Must

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We simply must stop naming things after descendants of Pre-Colombian nomadic bands of Neolithic indigenous peoples. Never mind that the intent was to invoke fierceness, combatant ethos, admiration, and/or proud heritage. It is, apparently, wildly disrespectful to the antecedents of your team’s/weapon system’s/collage’s mascot’s/merit badge’s name.

So, in answering the Biblical question “if the eye gaze upon something offensive, should thee pluck out the offending eye?” with a resounding “Yes!”, the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, as well as the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, Boeing AH-64 Apache Longbow, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Bell OH-58 Kiowa, General Dynamics/Raytheon BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile, Florida State Seminoles, University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, San Diego State Aztecs, University of Utah Utes, and all those Division II and below schools known as Braves, Warriors, Apaches, Choctaws, and so forth (you know who you are), the Boy Scouts of America’s Indian Lore Merit Badge (and the Leather Craft Badge is sorta hostile toward Hindus – actual Indians – doncha think?), should all change their names to “fR?b3Ju*wUse4Ax#” which is not a word, name, object or deity in any known language of any known culture. No one’s offended, not even dyslexics or the blind (since the name is unpronounceable anyway).

And what on Earth do we do with Indianapolis, Indiana?! Illinois (local tribe)? Kentucky (Iroquorian word – pronounced KEN-tah-KEE – meaning “on the prairie”)? The Dakotas (Dakota Sioux)? Oklahoma (Choctaw word meaning “Red man,” which was close enough to “Indian Territory”)? And counties and cities, villages, towns and bergs too numerous to list here?

They aren’t “Indians” or even “AmerIndians”, they are “Native Americans” (for now – these labels change with impressive frequency). But then, so am I – born and raised in America. We need a better name for them – indigenous people maybe, but that doesn’t just roll off the tongue, does it? Oh wait, there is a word for what we’re talking about – members of the original population of a given region – aborigines. Do any teams/weapon systems/college mascots/merit badges/cities/states/counties/villages/towns/bergs have aboriginal-derived names? No? I think we’re in the clear.

Political correctness, like all attempts to label, collect and orchestrate social entities, will result in an evermore-detailed catalogue of people and their associations, such that we will have lost the innovative fuel of natural social evolution – reaction to spontaneous events. That takes a no labels, no pigeon holes, no specially grouped collection of independent actors bound only by their political organization (read: nation). The more we sub-divide away from each other, the less efficient we are at society-wide problem-solving.

The Founders had to balance that with the vastness of their geopolitical space, and the velocity of communication at a distance. Their solution was to defer power to the states – a more manageable scale, which would, in turn, defer power to the lower jurisdictia. A laboratory of the states, each of which was a laboratory of their people. Putting solutions as close as possible to problems.

That same logic doesn’t hold with politically pigeon-holing special interest groups, as you’re homogenizing the members as a condition of inclusion. You don’t get the turbulent atmospherics that drive innovation, you get single-issue rival factions.

I’m just taking the correctness police at their word – if naming things, intent being irrelevant, after aboriginal tribes and their warlords (Codename Geronimo? Really?) is hurtful and wrong, then we must correct all examples of it we can find. Maybe we shouldn’t name them all the same 256-bit encryption password, but if we don’t, somebody’s got a lot of naming to do.

4 thoughts on “If We Must, We Must

  1. Your examples of political correctness [aka] the “PC police” are definitely accurate in that they point out the absurdity of just how specious the supporters of the idea will go. Obviously these sports teams and organizations such as the Boy Scouts meant no disrespect to American Indians when they named their mascots and such. Braves, Blackhawks, Seminoles, Rainbow Warriors, Fighting Sioux, and yes–even the Redskins– were chosen because they symbolized positive aspects and respect for the bravery and fierceness displayed by these native American tribes. we agree on that.

    That being said, I think sometimes the “PC Police” accomplish some good outcomes when they raise hell about a group or culture that insists on clinging to a symbol that definitely offends many or even most people. My example would be the current controversy over the Confederate battle flag and what it symbolizes in South Carolina and many other southern states. I’m quite sure you won’t agree with me on this.

    • Actually, I do. What I found comforting is that Governor Haley acted before the administration could take it out of state hands. I agree with those who were saying that, personally, they thought the flag belonged in a museum, but it was an issue for the each state to decide. I’m sure that if the debate had lingered much longer, the administration would have mandated it.

  2. I’m surprised that we are in agreement. And yes, I too think Gov. Haley did a wonderful job in defusing a very volatile situation. Kudos to her. And now I hope the South Carolina legislature will agree too.

    The irony in this whole tragedy is that Dylann Roof accomplished just the opposite of what he had hoped to create. Justice served, I say.

    • Yes, his stated objective was to start a race war (echoes of Charlie Manson). Funny how all the race-baiting by people like Sharpton seems to be losing ground to the people.

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