Native Americans, Female Acquaintances and Racist Bastards

Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1902

Samuel Langhorne Clemens 1902

There’s a Washoe Indian, Washoe Native American, hell I don’t know what to say anymore, who is protesting the renaming of a cove on Lake Tahoe after Samuel Clemens.  Seems Sam camped there 150 or so years ago and might even have started a fire while cooking his dinner.  As far as I can tell from the news stories, it’s one Indian, or one Native American, that seems to have a problem with Mark Twain being a racist.   According to the Washoe Native American, 150 or so years ago, Clemens referred to the local Indian population as “diggers”. 

When is this going to stop?  Let’s see, Mark Twain was a humorist.  That is akin to a modern day comedienne.  Ever heard any modern day comedienne make a “racist” comment?  Wait, I guess it’s only acceptable for a comedienne to make racist comments if they are of that race.  Anyone read the book “Tom Sawyer?”  Naming a character “Injun Joe” sound racist to you?  I’m surprised we haven’t pulled the book from the schools.   Maybe EVERYONE that lived 150 years ago might be identified as a racist today.  Maybe?

Better examine all the buildings, towns, highways, bridges, airports, whatever, named after Washington or Jefferson.  They were both confirmed, admitted, slave owners.  Ah, but they were good slave owners, right?  Better blast off the images on Mt. Rushmore.  Racist bastards.

Sam Clemens called the Native Americans that lived around Lake Tahoe, diggers, because they foraged for roots and berries.  Or so it is assumed today.  Who knows?  Who the hell cares?  Oh yeah, that Washoe Native American who doesn’t want the cove renamed to Clemens Cove or something because he was a racist.

How can you seize the property of someone in the United States because they are accused of being a racist?  Yet it’s happening right in front of you, and most of you think IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!  I can’t imagine how the owner of an NBA team can possibly be a racist, and I’m not going to spell that out for you, but you can’t take the team away from him.  He owns it, the franchise is his property.  Maybe you can ban the team itself from the NBA, but they’re not doing that.  The Clippers were in the finals though, can’t ban them from the league.  They lost though.  Wonder what would have happened if the Clippers were in the NBA Championship.  Those players don’t want to play for a racist, they can quit, go play for a team that isn’t owned by an old white guy. 

Do I think Donald Sterling’s comments were indicative of a racist?  Sure they were, but he said them to his “girlfriend” in private, who taped them for whatever motive, and went public.  You think she had an agenda?  Is anyone looking at the racist character of this girl?  How about the moral character?  How about her character in general?  Do we care?  You think we have any more “private racists” in this country.

The NBA imposed a lifetime ban on Sterling, and fined him $2.5 million dollars because he told his girlfriend, in a private conversation, to stop bringing black guys to the Clippers games.  In the league’s response, “girlfriend” is “female acquaintance,” and “blacks” is of course, “African Americans.”  Got to make sure you use the current politically correct term for everything these days.  Sterling has the longest tenure as owner of an NBA franchise; 33 years.   He isn’t paying the fine and he will assuredly take the league to court.

I remember watching the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington (OMG ) Redskins when Howard Cosell made the infamous comment about Alvin Garrett, a wide receiver for the Redskins, “Gibbs wanted that kid, and that little monkey gets loose doesn’t he?”  Tuesday morning the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference demanded Cosell apologize for his racist comments.  The media storm commenced.

Howard said, “I respect and admire Alvin Garrett.  I was bragging on him with affection and I used a word I use when playing with my own grandson.”  He refused to apologize.  And Alvin Garrett, he wasn’t upset by the comment at all.  He said he was honored that Cosell called him out during the telecast.

Howard had made “little monkey” comments on several other on-air occurrences:  August 29, 1972, September 23, 1972, during a baseball broadcast in 1982, and that Redskins game in 1983.  Not one thing was mentioned about the earlier three references, but Rev. Lowery was watching the game, I guess, on that Monday night in 1983.

howard cosellI think it was pretty obvious that Cosell’s comments had nothing to do with racism.  Cosell was an adamant supporter of civil-rights for athletes in the 1960s when it clearly wasn’t a popular stance.  He was close with Muhammed Ali, and supported Curt Flood, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Arthur Ashe, to name a few.   I just don’t think Howard was a racist.  He was a lot of things, obnoxious perhaps, but racist wasn’t one of them.  Yet you can find that incident listed as one of the top 10 worst cases of racism.  Gimme a break.

The Rev. Lowery, said, “It was a slip that reflected a thought.”  WTF.  What does that mean?  He wanted Cosell to be “man enough” to apologize for his reflected thoughts.  Cosell ended up being man enough to tell him to take a flyin’ flip.  And just so you know, Cosell wasn’t fired from Monday Night Football because of the “little monkey” comment.  He resigned at the end of the 1983 season.  He may have been partly forced-out, but I think there were personal reasons as well.   Still that monkey metaphor has been used by xenophobes for centuries, and maybe, just maybe, Howard should have known better.

There is any number of examples like this throughout recent history, most started or exacerbated by the Press, but Mark Twain being a racist…of course NOT.  They didn’t even know what a racist was in 1861. They certainly didn’t define it the way it is today.  Just like a “Native American” was an “Indian” back in 1861, and someone from Mexico was a “Mexican.”   But was Mark Twain prejudiced?  That would be a lot harder to prove.  Based on his writings I would have to argue that he was not.  He might call a Native American, Injun, but so did everyone else in his time.

Lieut. Richard Henry Pratt founder and superintendent of the Carlisle Indian School 1879.

Lieut. Richard Henry Pratt founder and superintendent of the Carlisle Indian School 1879.

The word racism wasn’t even in the language until 1902, and it was in reference to the Native American culture, not what we think of the word today.  The rest of the theory, espoused by Richard Henry Platt, was if you killed the Indian, you saved the man.  In other words, remove all semblance of the Native American culture from the man, and you get a white man.  Preposterous, yet Congress approved a boarding school in Pennsylvania for Native American children trying to do just that.

So name the damn cove after Samuel Langhorne Clemens and tell the Native American to get over it.  It was 150 years ago.  WTF.  



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2 responses to “Native Americans, Female Acquaintances and Racist Bastards

  1. Shannon

    Well said!

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