July 11, 2020
Back in the good old days I went to summer camp. Camp Thayer in Braintree, Mass. The good old days. Before people were offended by nearly everything it seems. Anyway, our age groups at the camp were named by Native American tribes. The Sachem… Blackfoot… Comanche… Hopi… Iroquois. You get the idea. It never, not once occurred to me that the use of these names was being disrespectful. To the contrary. I came to think of those tribes as special. They had meaning in my life.
Being or not being offensive is a tricky business. It’s a numbers game. In 2016 an ESPN survey found that 9 out of 10 Native Americans were OK with the name Washington Redskins. That 10% became easy to ignore. So how much is enough to be truly offensive? I’m offended by eating contests. Should we ban them? Probably not. I’m offended by the New York Yankees? Should we shut them down? Almost certainly not. Almost.
It should be simple. Just do the right thing. But by whose standards? Mine? Yours? Trump’s? It seems simple. It’s not.