Native American Offense

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La Shawn posts the results of a new survey on whether Native Americans are offended by the name of the Washington Redskins. I'd like to know the numbers on how many are offended by the term 'Native Americans', since almost every single Native American I have known prefers to be called Indian. Maybe that offends people from India or of Indian descent, but that just shows the complicated waters politically correct sailor must navigate. (I suggest that it can't really be done.)

According to the poll, 90% of Native Americans said the team's name is acceptable, and 9% considered it offensive. What was interesting to me was that the percentage considering it offensive goes up at higher levels of education. Here are more details on the breakdown:

The survey found little disparity between men and women or young and old. However, 13 percent of Indians with college degrees said the name is offensive, compared with 9 percent of those with some college and 6 percent of those with a high school education or less. Among self-identified liberals, 14 percent found the term disparaging, compared with 6 percent of conservatives.

It's not surprising that self-identified conservatives and liberals would show a statistical difference from the norm. It's the education gap that may reveal something interesting. I can think of three possible explanations. First, it might be that education provides information that allows them to see how offensive it is, when they can't see it as easily without that information. Second, perhaps education corrupts people into seeing something as offensive when they probably shouldn't see it that way. In other words, education is indoctrination by the thought police. Third, some factor that lies behind why people will get more education also lies behind people would find this offensive.

I can't think of what that underlying factor might be. I can't understand how intelligence or work ethic would lead someone to be more offended by a name. The first one seems completely silly to me, since facts don't reveal how the name 'Redskins' could be offensive. I can't believe Native Americans don't know their history well enough to know how the term used to be used. I can believe the average American doesn't, but coherent cultural units within the U.S. tend to know a good deal of their history, and those of Native American ancestry who identify with their ancestry enough to adopt the name for themselves are the sort who won't learn in high school or college what information is necessary to understand why some are offended by this. That leaves me thinking it's something on the order of the second explanation. Enough people go to college and learn that this is supposed to be offensive that it's statistically noticeable. It's not a large difference, but it's a difference. Maybe there's some third factor for those who go to college that makes that type of person more likely to be offended by this, but since I can't think of it I'm tentatively concluding that the second explanation is more likely, since a possible explanation is generally more likely than a non-existent one.

5 Comments

Thanks for the link.

In the post I link to, "I Am A Native American", one Indian said he won't let the government tell him who he is. Another explanation may be more in line with that kind of thinking. Think about it. A whole sub-culture refers to themselves as "American Indians", no matter how they originally came up with the name.

All of a sudden, probably in the 1960s, white, middle-class college students and their liberal professors decided that certain words were offensive and "racist", so they take it upon themselves to dump "Indian" and refer to this people as "Native American" because they were here before us.

As I wrote, I am a native American, too.

I am looking for a Native American parable that is a story of a grandfather describing a struggle between two wolves to his grandson. Would you happen to know this story and where I could get a copy of?

An Old Cherokee Story Two Wolves, One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

In one paragraph above "intelligence" is seemingly used interchangably with "education". I have found that the two are not the same. Higher education may be linked to taking offense along with some other Politically Correct ideas. Intelligence is found in many who are not necessarily formally educated.
Generally, If one is looking for a reason to be offended, almost anything will do.

I am a Native American and/or Indian.

Kim, I was actually rejecting intelligence as a plausible explanation while considering factors related to higher education, so I don't see how I was confusing the two.

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