By Dave ShawMany non-native American individuals find the controversy of the use of Indian mascots in sports such as baseball or football to be a ridiculous claim that “whites” are intolerant of any individual different from them. Some view this as “super-sensitivity” to things that are “relatively harmless” in nature. Others may empathize with members of American Indian tribes but may only do so as to not look like part of the so-called racists. Still, others may lack enculturation and experiences such as the ones experienced by the European woman mentioned in our textbook. In the text she recites numerous occasions in which a simple gesture used everyday by her in this society had serious miscommunications and consequences. The touching of the head to show affection is considered the most disrespectful thing imaginable to the Micronesians, something this woman found slightly difficult to adjust to during her time there. The use of American Indian mascots, in my opinion, is something that has been yet another target in the age of “political correctness” that helps further the point of how apologetic this nation has become. The use of an Indian chief as a mascot for a team called the Indians is perfectly logical. Would it make sense to change the team name to the Cleveland Native Americans? Does the motion of throwing a tomahawk as a rally for a team whose logo happens to be a tomahawk really seem insensitive?An individual who meant no disrespect whatsoever most likely started these particular things, and another person saw the gesture or logo and the idea spread. I highly doubt that the individual starting the “hatchet chop” had the thought in their mind “If I do this on television, then maybe I can hurt the feelings of the American Indians and show how much I hate them.” Bending over backwards to appease an individual or group of individuals is both idiotic and absurd. Sensitivity towards others means that a people will do all they can to see that any atrocity that was previously suffered will not be repeated. It does not mean that you should bend over backwards and say over and over how sorry we are and to offer material items as compensation. In truth, doing so belittles the point of making an injustice understood. In order for an individual to be sensitive to something found offensive by another, they must understand why it was deemed offensive to begin with. Offering something such as American Indians not having to pay taxes or slavery reparations to Africans for what their ancestors went through implies that things can be made better simply through transfer of material possessions. My opinion always has been, and always will be, that if you want true sensitivity then you should teach about the injustices done to the people of the world and teach why they are wrong, not what can be done to appease their descendants. History is in the past and it can never be changed, but it can be learned about to ensure that it is not repeated. Offering privileges or monetary settlements does nothing to prevent future atrocities. In fact, it makes individuals who may already have a preconceived notion of a race even more angry and hateful than they would be if it were simply ignored. My views on this matter would not change simply because they would decide to change the color of the mascot for the team. Nor would they change simply because an individual raises a complaint. This nation has done things that have been deemed wrong and it is unfortunate that those lessons needed to be learned the hard way. However, allowing an individual special privileges simply because your ancestor moved their ancestor to another place will do more damage than enlightening the citizens of this nation to the reasons such actions were insensitive and wrong.This article is part of a series on prejudices against minorities in America. This week, we focus on American-Indian. The author lives and works in Terre-Haute, Indiana.
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