Friday, November 08, 2013

On the Washington Redskins.

Not opposed to Matriculation - even for women.

Fr. Rutler is a wonderful man. 

He makes everyone look stupid.

I love reading Fr. Rutler, as well as listening to him.  He is just so darn erudite, ain't he Trixie?  What?  Really, whenever he speaks or writes, he reminds me of how stupid we've become - even the highly educated, high school graduates and the certified Community College professionals and those grads who never got out from under, amongst us.

Fr. Rutler's essay in Crisis is one of the best commentaries I've read on the brouhaha over the Washington Redskins.  So many of us can be swayed by media and popular opinion, while language has deformed through manipulation by political activists and social engineers - I think it is safe to say many of us really do not know what we are talking about half the time. 

Ignorance of etymology.

That's it!  Ignorant Redskins all.  (He said 'ignorance'.)  Seriously, Fr. Rutler goes to the root of the problem - ignorance of language and vocabulary.  Discussing the Redskins:
There was real lack of understanding behind complaints about the trademarked name of the Washington Redskins professional football team, as racist and demeaning. That was shot down in District Court, the Court of Appeals, and finally by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009. One of the original complaints came from a Native American who was one year old when “Redskins” was registered as a mark in 1967. I myself have no case against calling Native Americans “Native Americans,” and I am well aware that the Lenni Lenapes were tilling the land on which I was born for possibly eleven centuries before my natal day. In 1684 a Scots settler, perhaps a Gordon for all we know, said they were “gentle, kind and good.” That was in New Jersey, and anyone born in New Jersey is radically native to America, so I claim the name for myself as well.
Now the case against the Washington Redskins has been revived, and it is an echo of stirrings from the 1970’s when a group of “college activists” forced Dartmouth to change its symbol from an Indian to a Pine Tree, even though pine trees lack athletic prowess. At the time, to the embarrassment of mostly pale-faced campus “activists,” chiefs of tribes across the nation said in a survey that they wanted to keep the Indian. Dartmouth was chartered by King George III in 1769 “for the education & instruction of Youth of the Indian tribes in this Land in reading, writing & all parts of Learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing & christianizing Children of Pagans as well as in all liberal Arts and Sciences; and also of English Youth and any others.”  
The term “Redskin” was a translation of the Peau-Rouge neologism of the benign and longsuffering French Jesuit missionaries. It was also self-referential, and the chief of the Sauks, Quashquame, was recorded in 1825 as referring to his “Red Skin nation.” James Fenimore Cooper popularized the term in allusion to native people he thought “comely” and never as an insult. Not infrequently did various sachems refer to Europeans as “red men” because of how they were sunburned by an unfamiliar outdoor life. - Fr. Rutler, Crisis Magazine
More interesting factoids from the article:

The term savage:
“Savage” is not a high compliment and certainly can be pejorative, but it is properly understood with detachment in the sense of its Latin source silvaticus, meaning wandering and wild, which would apply today to the typical undergraduate, whose vocabulary is much more limited than that of any of the Algonquian language groups.
The term tar baby:
Ignorance of etymology fuels the fire of such people, and consequently there is the foolishness of banning the term “tar baby” from storybooks even though it has nothing to do with race.
The term niggardly:
There is the actual instance of the forced resignation of a mayoral aide in Washington, D.C., for using the word “niggardly” with reference to the city budget. A member of the city council, who objected that the term was racist, was weak in his grasp of Old Norse, origin of the root word nigla, which means “fussing pedantically over nonsense.”
The term gay:
Things got complicated when the shocked city councilman was called “homophobic” by members of the “gay community” which defended the mayoral aide as one of their own. Even the good word “gay” has become freighted with new meaning, and I expect that the Gordon Highlanders may next object that the Scottish folkdance, “the Gay Gordons,” has become misinterpreted. This is not helped by the fact that it is danced counterclockwise. Julian Bond, as head of the NAACP, an organization that has managed steadfastly to keep its official name, sensibly said of the niggardly incident: “You hate to think that you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding.”

"I knew that."


  1. While he might be correct in the word's etymological origins, he is ignoring the very weighty history of usage; this term has been, and continues to be, pejorative. If you take into account the continued stigmatization of Native Americans, his defense of a pro sports team becomes morally derelict. He needs to find his way back to the real world, I think.

    1. My dear daughter-in-law is half Cree and absolutely loathes the fact that us palefaces feel they need to defend her- finds it, although well meaning, condescending and demeaning.

  2. I bet he's one guy you are not fond of. ;)

    I wonder about Cher, how she feels about all of this. "Half Breed" - imagine living with that.

    1. You know many moons ago (1985 to be precise) I was in boot camp. My drill sgt asked me "boy is your daddy white?" I replied in the affirmative . "Is your mama white?" I replied " no, drill sgt she's hawaiian". He said , "you know whwt that makes you? A pineapple-half breed!". True story. He was black. Was it racist? I didn't think so. Are hula dolls that mimic sacred hawaiian dance in car windows racist? No, they are fun kitsch. In german there is a perjorative "kanak" which means swarthy, dark skinned etc . "Kanaka" means peoplle in hawaiian. Should I take offense if a german were to call me a "kanak" when I am one. My mother (a kanak) is right again regarding all this politically correct bu**sh*t. I'll use her words for such folks, "they need to get a life"

  3. Pejorativity ( is that a word ?) is fungible.

  4. Sound and fury signifying nothing. Would blacks or whites be offended if what the term describes, skin, was added as a noun to the descriptive adjective? I can't call myself a proud whiteskin because it is an accident of birth and heritage, but I certainly would not be offended if the whiteskin was substituted for Caucasian. (Although tanskin would be more accurate.)

    All I can say is there are a lot of obsessive/compulsive people out there making issues about idiotic things. It's so much easier than dealing with substantive issues like the in utero murder of blackskins, whiteskins, yellowskins, and redskins.

  5. I have only deep veneration and admiration for the ever erudite Fr Rutler. I wish there were legions more like him.

  6. Servus - you are just like Cher.

    Fr. Rutler isn't fond of Medjugorje you know. At least that's what I've noticed on the inter webs. ;)

    He was kind of mean to Christopher Hitchens as well.

    I enjoy listening to him and reading his stuff.

    I like him but I'm kind of gun shy when it comes to 'venerating' priests. ;) ;)

    1. Before I found the faith I was guilty of venerating Cher, but now I'm much healthier and I venerate prolific catholic bloggers.

  7. I know! Cher and I could maybe sing halfbreed together sometime. Well, I'm with Fr Rutler on Medjugore and the gospa. As for venerate : to feel or show great respect for someone. I didn't know he was mean to Mr Hitchens

  8. Cher isn't Native American. That was just a bit she and Sonny did on their show. I can't remember exactly what her European heritage is.

  9. Hey, you're right. Found this on the site MentalFloss:

    "Over the years, plenty of Hollywood stars have fudged their resumes and claimed to be American Indians. Today, Kara Kovalchik is shaking the roots of those family trees to see just how authentic those claims really are.


    Prior to 1973, Cher's biography always listed her father (John Sarkisian) as being of Armenian heritage, while her mother, Georgia Holt, was of Irish and German extraction. But when Cher's single "Half Breed" started climbing the Billboard charts (it would eventually hit number one), suddenly she remembered that she was 1/16th Cherokee on her mother's side. That biographical revision probably helped stem protests from the Native community when Cher performed her hit in a full feathered headdress on an episode of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. (Watching this clip now, Cher's costume seems pretty tame, but back in 1973 I clearly remember my dad's and brothers' tongues rolling out of their mouths like unfolding red carpets when she rode out on that horse.)"

    Read the full text here:
    --brought to you by mental_floss!

  10. I did know about Cher's heritage. I'm kidding with my replies - but you guys know that.

    The Hitchens reference was to that dinner some years ago when Fr. R told him he'd either die an alcoholic or in an insane asylum - I can't remember the quote exactly, but it always cracked me up. I know - I shouldn't laugh.

  11. When reading this article it reminded me of the Biblical-verses in Romans 14:21-23, "It is good not to eat flesh, and not to drink wine, nor anything whereby your brother is offended, or scandalized, or made weak. Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Blessed is he that condemneth not himself in that which he alloweth. But he that discerneth, if he eat, is condemned; because not of faith. For all that is not of faith, is sin." (from the Douay-Rheims Bible). *Of faith: By faith is here understood judgement and conscience : to act against which is always a sin. I thought of those Biblical-verses making a comparison to if one says the word "niggardly" with Black-people who might take offense, then I'd most probably refrain using it. Though I know black young-people and other young-people use it with each other as a sort of "term of affection", it might not be so with someone "white" using the word, even is he doesn't mean any offense by it. But, then again, it is wonderful to know the origin of the words and if possible to let people who might otherwise be hurt or offended by it, know of it's original use. I suppose one has to use pray sometimes, follow our conscience too; not every situation is the same, you know? And as st. Teresa of Avila would say, "A little knowledge is a good thing". To which I would say, "amen"!!. I HOPE my thoughts make some sort of "good-sense" and God bless you Terry and ALL yr. readers who visit here!.


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