Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Philistines on the Back Nine

In the last few years I've noticed a general trend away from use of the term "Indian" in reference to the indigenous peoples of the North American continent. It seems that they, on the whole, prefer "Native American." Sure: I'll buy that. Despite Columbus' best intentions we're still a long way from India.

In my experience its tough to admit you took a wrong turn after a 4-month voyage with nothing but flour-water to eat, so I'm sure it took some convincing before he admitted we weren't "India." It’s a good thing he didn't run ashore on Buford Highway or he might have stuck to his guns. I'm just saying: there's no sense in propogating the confusion.

I also notice some degree of resentment over our wholesale borrowing of Native American tribal terminology and traditions: "low man on the totem pole", "Seminoles", "Braves", and of course "Indians" to name a few of our misappropriations.

I don't blame them a bit for some irritation at our blatant theft of "Seminoles". If you screamed my native heritage at me in a drunken slur over and over again on television; I'd get tired of it too. Of course, now we've reduced it to "Noles!!!" which is even worse (although much easier to scream). I imagine a "Nole" is something like a furry, red, ground-dwelling hobbit in a headdress.

I would think "low man on the totem pole" would really be more of a private joke at our expense though. Representational effigy at the very bottom of a carved-up tree with your feet buried in the dirt can't be an ideal position in Native American cultural tradition. Its probably something really terrible. You're just a cubicle-dwelling office grunt, but you describe yourself as a man locked in the body of a cedar-trunk carved beaver for all eternity? You're right: that job sounds terrible.

So, as far as lingo goes I guess I'm with the Native Americans; but it isn't our use of indigineous peoples' names for our sports teams that’s the biggest problem - it’s that we single primarily THEM out for that dubious honor.

I say we pick and choose from more global national and political groups throughout history for our sports teams. What about the Turks? Nazis? How about the Hezbollah? Philistines? Zulus? Catholics?

Would you watch the Zulus take on the Sunnis in a grudge match skins game at Pebble Beach? I know I would.

Wouldn't you love to see the Philistines win the World Series in game 4 - live? No? Why not? 2000 years is a long losing streak. Why should the Philistines always have to lose?

You racist.

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