By NEAL FARMER
My great-grandmother was a Comanche. My father used to say a scar on his neck was from when another Indian shot him with an arrow. (He was kidding.)
A lot of my relatives formerly denied that they were American Indian because there was an extreme prejudice against Indians throughout the early and mid-1900s.
Some embraced their heritage, as I had a late aunt who wrote a story on a former chief of the Alabama-Coushatta tribe near Livingston. Others did not talk about it publicly, like my dad. I ran across a letter he received in the 1960s from a governmental agency in Oklahoma saying that he could get money because a part of Oklahoma City was built on Indian land. He never answered the letter.
I am 7/8ths Scot-Irish and Anglo Saxon (we think), just to let you know about the rest of the heritage – although like most Americans I am not really sure. But I do know that I am part Indian because I am usually wasted after two alcoholic drinks of firewater. The Indian apparently trumps the Irish in me.
So it was with great interest that I read a story in late June that said the Washington Post had conducted a survey with Indians, who are called Native-Americans in the story. (My family has always said Indian.) Some interviewed were members of a tribe and some were not, but all identified themselves as Indians.
The main question was whether it is proper to use Redskins as the mascot for the NFL’s franchise in Washington D.C., and then asked if it was OK to use Native American imagery in sports.
The Post survey was conducted in 2016 and re-appeared after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in mid-June (more on that later). The Post survey said 90 percent of Indians do not care that the Washington franchise is called the Redskins. The survey is at https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/sports/poll-native-americans-attitudes-toward-the-washington-redskins-team-name/2034/
At the risk of writing a serious news column for HS&S, the controversy and the Post survey were brought to the forefront when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the word “Slants,” a name for an Asian rock-fusion group that specifically made fun of their slanted eyes and a name that was created by the four-man group, was not offensive, did not violate the First Amendment and could be used. The Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, and others had joined into the suit.
The Wall Street Journal followed up with a story on June 21, called Saving Chief Wahoo, MLB’s Cleveland Indian mascot: https://www.wsj.com/articles/saving-chief-wahoo-1498084781
The musical group’s statement, found at http://www.theslants.com/statement-on-recent-scotus-ruling/, said that the U.S. Trademark Department was “justifying the denial of rights to people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, and political views, simply because they disagreed with the message of these groups. To that end, they knowingly used false and misleading information, supported by questionable sources such as UrbanDictionary.com, while placing undue burdens on vulnerable communities and small business owners by forcing them into a lengthy, expensive, and biased appeals process. The Supreme Court has vindicated First Amendment rights not only for The Slants, but all Americans who are fighting against paternal government policies that ultimately lead to viewpoint discrimination.”
For the second time, the U.S. Trademark Department had denied the Washington Redskins their logo, and lost the decision with the Supreme Court ruling. The Redskins’ name and logo can remain.
“I am thrilled,” said Redskins owner Dan Snyder. “Hail to the Redskins.”
When I was a teenager, I had read a survey that said 80 percent of American Indians did not care that Indians were used as mascots. When I was a little older, I read that it was 60 percent who thought using Indians was fine. Now it is 90 percent. Let that sink in. Even if you are not Native-American, it is easy to see that a small, vocal group is trying to speak for a vast majority. That’s almost like saying the New York Yankees represent pro baseball. The horror. The horror.
And if using Indians as a representation is so ghastly, why is there an American Indian statue on top of the Capitol in Washington D.C.?
The controversy, as most well know, also is at the college level.
Stanford University used to have an Indian mascot, but changed it to the color, Cardinal. I think that was fine because it was an internal decision. However, McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, was nicknamed the Indians, because the first school president had lived with Indians. Comanche, Kaw and Kiowa tribes supported McMurry in keeping their native nickname. But the NCAA stepped in and made the school change its name – they chose War Hawks – or among other things they would not be able to host NCAA post-season events. McMurry was one of 18 NCAA colleges that they required change their Indian-related mascots.
There are other stories of support for Indian mascots. Florida State has a group of Seminoles that the school poles before it performs native acts. The San Diego State Aztecs have an Aztec council that the school runs ideas through.
But why are some made to change? Florida State and San Diego State are big. McMurry is small. You do the math.
So, getting back to the fun-themes HS&S columns you have known and loved, the only thing I see as offensive with “Redskins” is what they have done to the people who play quarterback there. I mean, if OSHA had any balls, they’d motor outside the Beltway in D.C. and over to the Redskins facilities and fine the hell out of them. (Just kidding.)
The only place worse on quarterbacks is the Cleveland Browns, as if you didn’t already know that.
ALL-STARS – Wowsers. A national thing went the Astros way. The All-Star Game vote has been released and Houston has three starters for the July 11 gala in Miami. They are Jose Altuve at 2B, Carlos Correa at SS and George Springer in the OF.
Astro pitchers also included are Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, but probably not as starters. And Keuchel probably will decline to attend due to his lingering neck injury.
Altuve makes his fourth-consecutive ASG and his fifth in six years. It is the third year in a row for him to start.
The only other times Houston had three starting position players were 1994 with Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Ken Caminiti, as well as 2004 with Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman and Jeff Kent, according to Root Sports
PAULINO FALLOUT – Rookie pitcher David Paulino has been suspended 80 games for performance enhancement drugs. It’s a blow to Houston’s already depleted pitching staff. But it also causes more questions.
Was it a mistake by taking cold medicine that he did not clear with the Astros’ doctors? Or did he cheat? If so, how many other Astros are cheating? Paulino had Tommy John surgery in 2013, so he may have over-reacted by trying to strengthen his arm by living better chemically.
Because of Houston’s MLB-leading record, look for those who inspect PEDs to swoop down on Houston. I hope it is only one player involved.
JUST WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN THE LOT IS FULL? – A man drove inside the basketball arena at the University of Missouri and did significant damage. http://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/man-allegedly-drives-his-car-inside-mizzou-arena-does-100000-worth-of-damage/
NERD ALERT: Here is a trailer for the Justice League movie. It appears to fulfill all of our dreams, in that Superman is not really dead. (Gasp.) http://screenrant.com/justice-league-trailer-2-comic-con-superman/
CLASSICAL NOTES – Try Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The best recording is Van Cliburn, but that is because I am prejudiced. In 1958, during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Cliburn – then 23, who lived in Fort Worth – stunned the musical world and won the inaugural Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow. The judges called Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and were concerned about their lives if an America won the contest, even though Cliburn had an 8-minute standing ovation. Khrushchev only asked if the American was the best there, and when they said yes, reportedly said: “Then give him the prize.” Cliburn had a tickertape parade in New York City after he won, the only time that has happened to a classical musician.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Remember that fireworks are dangerous and sometimes illegal. Now, go have some fun!
– Stolen from a friend on Facebook.
HOTTIE OF THE DAY