September 27, 2012 by Erik Ritland
The Arrogance of the Cult of the Politically Correct
CNN’s website posted an article this week about a Massachusetts Senator whose opponent accused her of taking advantage of her “minority status” as a “Native American.” I look past the pointless mud-slinging to get to the real problem: that people still use the self-righteous term “Native Americans” when the people of the tribes that originally inhabited America prefer “American Indian.”
A blog on cnn.com this week posed this question: “Elizabeth Warren: Is she or isn’t she Native American?” Warren, who is running for Senate in Massachusetts, is accused by her opponent, Republican Scott Brown, of taking advantage of her “minority status.” As far as the story itself goes, it’s obvious that Brown’s accusations are typical, sad, grab-at-straws mud throwing meant to sway voters who are too stupid to see through it.
What stuck out to me, though, is the writers use of the term “Native American.” It has been well-known for years that the indigenous people of America prefer to be called American Indians, not Native Americans. Any person born in America is technically a “Native American.” The decision to change from “Indian” to “Native American” was not the idea or choice of any Native American group. Instead a group of pasty white Americans, no doubt feeling a little white liberal guilt, took it upon themselves to re-christen the “Indian” people a name that they divinely chose: “Native American.”
The people of America’s original tribes understandably took offense to this. First Columbus gets it wrong and calls them Indians, and then hundreds of years later a different group of obnoxious white people decides for them that they should now be called something different. Many American Indians are so used to being called “Native American” that they just shrug it off but, ironically, it is more offensive to call them that than it is to call them Indians.
But that doesn’t stop press outlets like CNN, among many other places in our culture (most notably the public school system), from still using the term. It’s not like anybody’s worldview other than theirs matters, right? What a life. Can’t we just leave our American Indian brothers and sisters alone? Haven’t we done enough to them already?
The Fox News website had an article this week that listed several celebrities and discussed their political leanings. Whew, thank God I know now! I may have, God forbid, seen a movie that stars a celebrity who is audacious enough to believe different things than I do, or buy a song written by some bigot who dares to question the divine conclusions I’ve come to. Now if only the CEOs and owners of every restaurant came out and did the same thing, à la Chick-Fi-La (pronounced “chick-fill-ah”), then I could know where to eat and where not to.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.