The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Listening to the right people

 


Thank you Bob Costas. You've finally helped me better understand an issue that has had me scratching my head for several months now.

During the Sunday Night Football telecast on NBC between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins earlier this week, Bob Costas did his weekly soliloquy. Of course we are all fourtunate to have the benefit of his remarkable genius. Not only does he know all, but fortunately for the rest of us, he tells all.

Early in Costas' remarks he said something like - as best as can be determined, only a small number of Native Americans are insulted by the team name "Redskins." He later concluded that the term Resdkins is an "insult." He was less harsh on nicknames such as Inidans, Braves, Warriors and such.

There you are Leyton Warriors and Ogallala Indians - you're safe for now. You've been cleared by Bob and Bob knows best. Careful though. The fever may spread.

The only thing I really find insulting is for Costas to be telling Native Americans what they should and should not be insulted by. How could he manage to say, on the one hand, that Native Americans are not insulted by the term and on the other hand calling "Redskins" and insult?

So Bob thinks the Native Americans should be insulted? if, as you say Bob, they are not insulted, then should they be? Does your wisdom go deeper than that of Native Americans? Should they be substituting their feelings for yours?

This is the third, and hopefully last time, I've used this space to explore this topic. I know I've been fair. I've had a sincere interest in trying to understand the issue. I don't like insulting individual people or races. I try to see the good in all. True, I've been insulting to Bob Costas here. Oh well. I found his remarks and arrogance so absurd it's hard for me to be me here.

There is one thing about this issue that has puzzled me most. Just about every time I've heard someone advocate for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the team name, their remarks have been prefaced by a poll or an understanding that Native American's don't seem to be offended. Then how did it become an issue at all? It's like trying to find out who first invented the joke, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

A week earlier I heard the issue being discussed by a panel on ABC's "This Week" without David Brinkley. They were all unified in their opposition to the team name Redskins. All seemed to acknowledge that Native Americans were not insulted by the name. I just can't get past that. Who are they to be telling Native Americans what they should and shouldn't be insulted by?

Last week I wrote that I wouldn't be insulted by remarks made against my religion, home town or ethnic heritage. I recognize that WASPs have had it easy in our history. Most often we've been doing the insulting and not been the insulted. But I'm not embarrassed by that history. I personally haven't tried to offend anybody and I don't feel part of any subculture of WASPs. I'm an American - same as you. An individual one to boot. So I don't have an emotional attachement to this issue - only an intellectual one.

But please don't tell me I sould be insulted by jokes or insults about Long Island or Manhassett, NY or Sidney. If you're insulted feel free to be. If you're insulted by such things, let me know. I don't like hurting anyone's feelings. If Native Americans are insulted, I want to hear from them - not Bob Costas.

I can't help but think what was once a snow pebble is now rolling down hill and getting larger and larger. Sooner or later Native Americans and the rest of us will be bowled over by a giant boulder of political correctness. A small group of holier-than-thou's, who know better than the rest of us - including the supposed aggrieved - have nudged this this pebble off a steep cliff and now it's coming straight for us.

It's an easy sell - especially to the most ignorant and least curious. That's not an insult to the many millions who have many more important things on their minds than this issue. For those whose time is occupied by raising children, careers, time with friends, charity work and a 1,000 other more important matters - we understand their lack of attention to this issue.

But the ignorant are the easiest targets for this kind of a subject. For millions the only contact they may have with this matter is "Redskins," "Insult," "Mean," "Racist." Americans are, by-and-large, good people. We don't want to offend or hurt.

But I fear It won't be too long before the tide of public opinion will have swayed so far against Snyder he'll be forced to capitulate as a matter of good business. The giant snowball may even grow so large as to run over Dalton and Ogallala, whether Native Americans are insulted or not.

I think we ought to have enough respect for the Native Americans to leave this issue to them. It's up to that group and that group alone to guide us here. Lets not allow the arrogance of those who feel they know better than all of us to set the tone. Forget about Bob Costas and know-it-all panels on "This Week." I know their hearts are in the right place, but their heads are out to lunch.

 

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