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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Words Matter - Part 2 - The Military Just Loves Them Some Native Americans


A friend recently sent me this post on Facebook - "with all the recent banter...and continuing lawsuits...challenging the name of the Washington Redskins, I had not thought of this angle; 
but it actually strikes a very good point!
The federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters and used the code name "Geronimo" in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden; officially objects to the name of the Washington Redskins."
Most often my friend's and my on-going debates would be a better fit on my political blog - Red State Blue Collar - but I thought because this one dealt with words and the connotations of words, it would be more appropriate on this one. Because words do matter.
And, yes, just as my friend's post said, the U.S. Military has often named its planes and helicopters and weapons and even missions, such as Geronimo, after Native Americans. There are actually many more than just the ones listed here, over 20 of them - Black Hawk, Chinook, Kiowa, Cayuse, Creek, Iroquois, Choctaw, Shawnee,Cheyenne, Comanche and Arapaho helicopters as well as Huron, Ute, Seminole, Mohawk and Mescalero aircraft, along with the Navajo cruise missile. (Some of these are now retired and some were proposed but never used). 
Why do you suppose the American military has such a penchant for naming its proudest possessions after American Indians and is that reason a badge of pride or shame to the Native Americans thus "honored"? 
In my opinion, this is done because we still appreciate a view of Indians as bloodthirsty savages (as seen represented in countless old westerns) and that is the image we want to portray of our mightiest war weapons. Whooping, painted warriors on spotted ponies would race through your town to scalp you and rape your women and take your children to sell or enslave.
That's the same reputation we want our most wicked helicopters to have. We want our enemies to think there is no use trying to run and hide. We will find you and kill you. Our weapons are brutally conscienceless....just like uncivilized wild Indians. 
But you have to wonder why these naming decisions were made...because, in fact, though the poor Native Americans won some battles, their entire desperate struggle not to be taken over by the Whites was a rearguard action from the start. They never had a prayer of actually prevailing. 
So seeing how they were the big losers in the war between red and white in America, why would we name our ships and planes and missiles after them? 
You'd think we'd want to call them for the triumphant ones - us. Why not White Guy helicopters and Christian Caucasian drones and Pale Face Intelligence Aircraft? Why not Cowboy cruise missiles since in the game of Cowboys and Indians, the Cowboys were the good guys and always won. Oh, yeah, maybe the truth is contained within that sentence - the phrase "good guys". We were the good guys so we certainly wouldn't want those death-dealing weapons and aircraft named after us!  

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