Thursday, May 5, 2011

Things That I Don’t Get

Apparently the Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding a hearing today because members of the Native American community are upset Navy Seals gave Osama bin Laden the codename “Geronimo”:
The use of the code name Geronimo to refer to Osama bin Laden has generated a fair amount of controversy. Mere days after the iconic phrase, “Geronimo EKIA” (Geronimo, Enemy Killed In Action) Congress is even saying that it will look into the matter, calling the name “inappropriate” and “devastating.”

To be fair, almost any name chosen for Osama would generate this kind of indignation. Bin Laden by any other name might smell as sweet, but call him a rose, and the flower lobby would be out in force. Call him Romeo, and the Anti-Shakespearean-Character Defamation League would be hooting and hollering and carrying on. Yes, Geronimo was a conscious choice, perhaps because the Native American leader was famously elusive, and there’s a hostile history there. Geronimo wasn’t even his original name. (That would be Goyahkla, “One Who Yawns.”) But say what you will about the history of wildly misappropriated terms for Native Americans — Washington Redskins, anyone? — the objection boils down to the fact that a code name for Osama that referenced anything with any redeeming qualities whatever would be drawing fire from some quarter.

I don’t know about that but I will say any group complaining about this is not going to find a lot of sympathy. Native Americans have plenty of legitimate complaints, and making an issue out of this trivializes everything else, if you ask me.

But hey, the Senate committee is having a hearing so what the hell do I know. But it seems like there would be better ways of making your point. Am I missing something here?