Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Neal Wooten Headshot

Boy Is Their Face Red

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

My Facebook friends are once again on the warpath. What has their knickers in a wad this time? It's those goofy Native Americans complaining about sport team mascots again. You know, like the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, or my favorite ball team: the Atlanta Braves. My friends just don't get what's to be offended about, and frankly, the consensus is, if they're not offended by it, no one should be.

My great-grandmother was Cherokee, but I've never considered myself American Indian. Other than reading several books about the Cherokee, I've never gotten involved in any of it. I did plan once to attend a rain dance, but it was cancelled due to inclement weather.

But I get it. From the time Columbus arrived in 1492 until the year 1900, 95 percent of the American Indians in the USA were killed either by disease brought by the white man, or directly by white soldiers. Men, women, children, and babies were killed, tortured, raped, as they were removed from their homes and forced to live a sub-human existence on reservations. The horror of the Trail of Tears alone is unimaginable.

So, yeah, I understand why some of them might be upset that the one thing they were left with - their identity -- was also taken to be used as a profitable logo for several professional sporting teams.

One friend argued that Washington's mascot is an honor to the Native Americans. But shouldn't Native Americans get to decide for themselves what is or is not an honor? Would an expansion team called the Nashville Negros be an honor to African Americans? Would a soccer team in Germany called the Berlin Jews be an honor to the Jewish community?

All of my friends on Facebook complaining about this are Southern white Christians, which is a group that rarely is offended by anything. That's sarcasm of course. While being offended might not have been invented in the Bible Belt, we sure as hell perfected it.

A few things that offend most Southern white Christians are: Pro-choice, birth control, Charles Darwin, anyone quoting Charles Darwin, evolution, science, scientists, science data, other people's welfare checks, taxing rich people, the global warming hoax, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, sex education, vegetarians, vegans, gun laws, gun limits, gun debates, democrats, anything Clinton, Stephen Colbert, John Stewart, David Letterman, Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, the Dixie Chicks, gay people, gay couples, gay unions, gay marriage, gay weddings, gay pride, gay parades, gay books, gay magazines, gay movies, gay actors, gay supporters, the term "gay old time," and any words that come out of the mouth of President Obama.

Maybe that's why they are offended by people being offended - it's theirs. They built that. Even the friend, who said Native Americans should be honored by the Washington Redskins' name, added that people today get offended by the most trivial things. I know he's right, because this same friend was totally put out when I posted a picture of my Christmas present, an Iron Bowl shirt that read "Iron Bowl Beat Down." Being a Crimson Tide fan, that was too much for him to bear. So one shirt making his team look bad is okay to be offended by, but a sports team wearing jerseys and helmets that demean an entire culture... well, that's just overreacting.

Personally, the sport teams' mascots do not offend me. Neither was I offended by Al Jolson's Blackface. On the flipside, however, I can understand why some people were. These things just didn't hit me on a personal level.

Chances are the professional sports teams using Native American mascots will not change their names any time soon. Most of their paying fans would be more offended and when it comes to making decisions for companies like these, the almighty dollar trumps moral discernments.

But even if they did, if the Washington Redskins one day became the Washington Renegades, or the Atlanta Braves became the Atlanta Rebels, would that really be the end of the world as we know it?