September 22, 2015

Hortas in Starfleet

A continuation of the discussion begun in Thirteen Worlds in Starfleet?

"We'd love to have a Horta crew member, but they're rather unfriendly and ugly, don't you think? Besides, they don't have the necessary 'tools' to serve in Starfleet. They're better off in support positions behind the scenes."In the novels there was a Horta on Kirk's ship. Didn't need to beam down, he just entered atmo like a meteor.I don't think I've read that ST:TOS novel or novels. And I've read a good chunk of them. But there was a Horta crew member in DC's ST comic book, so I understand.

Nevertheless, the idea of a Horta crew member didn't reach Capt. Picard. Or the writers of his ST:TNG adventures.Picard is a skinhead, you know. :)I guess so!

Ah. The Horta character Naraht appeared in both the comics and Diane Duane's novels. I've read several of her novels, including The Romulan Way, so I've read about Naraht. I just didn't remember him from the books.

Another novel has an entire starship of Hortas. Which makes more sense than trying to mingle air- and rock-based crew members.

Funny how novelists think of such sci-fi ideas routinely but TV writers almost never do.

For more on Star Trek, see Is Captain Kirk a Conservative? and Miramanee in Star Trek Continues.

September 21, 2015

Thirteen worlds in Starfleet?

This image led to Facebook discussion about the Federation's diversity or lack thereof:

Only 13? Doesn't the Federation have hundreds of worlds?Unfortunately, Picard did not believe in integration.

They do, but the Enterprise only has representatives from 13 of them.
"We are proud to include crew members from the light-skinned humanoid planets. As for the Andorians, the Tellarites, and the Orions--not to mention all the non-humanoid species--alas. Through no fault of their own, they don't quite have the 'right stuff.'

"But fear not. Some of them have their own ships in Starfleet II, aka Starfleet Jr. Others are free to hitch rides via Starfleet Uber. We make sure all species and races have equal access to the stars."A lot of those people explore space on their own (like the Vulcans) so they don't "need" to be in Starfleet to explore space. Starfleet is an organization any member of the Federation can join, but they certainly do not have to join. Enterprise was an Earth vessel that Starfleet used to explore space, but in Picard's day it was used for diplomatic missions often and had many people on board who were not crew members. It had around 1000 people on board at any given time, but only about 2/3 were crew. So 13 worlds were represented in 750 people. That's pretty good! Go on any cruise today, and you probably wouldn't have that many nationalities at once on the same ship. Also, it was a TV show. lol :-)Every Starfleet vessel ever shown was an Earth vessel.Probably because Starfleet was on Earth. It does play a big part in who decides to join Starfleet, I'm sure. ;-)Which is why Picard said, "We are proud to include crew members from our light-skinned humanoid planets."

You're explaining the reasons for my initial comment, which I already knew. But you're not giving us any reason why a fictional universe should be so Anglo-American.Oh, well that's easy! The show was shot in Hollywood, and it was just easier to make them look that way to save on the budget. ;-)

TOS made a point of including people from all different nationalities in it, but they got a little lazy when casting TNG.
It would've been easy to find 10 Asian or African actors in Hollywood and make an Earth-based starship primarily nonwhite. So the real reason here is racism. Which is my point.That's a sad point, as Star Trek was one of the most progressive shows of its day.It's sad but true, alas. And 20-30 years later, when producers could've and should've known better, Starfleet was still predominantly white.

However, bigots like Kim Davis aren't welcome in Starfleet, so that's good.

13 whole worlds!

I just think it's funny that Picard would use 13 as the measure of Starfleet's diversity. Like, "The US military has members from 13 (thirteen) countries. The other 183 countries aren't represented, but you can't have everything."The U.S. military only has members from one country (the U.S.). lolIt has naturalized citizens from other countries.Yes, but they have to become U.S. citizens to serve, so they still represent the U.S.

This does raise an interesting point though! Worf was raised on Earth by human parents, and still considered himself Klingon, but I wonder if there are aliens that live on Earth and consider themselves Terrans (people from Earth)? They could have had people like that on the Enterprise too.

Point is that "members from other countries" doesn't mean "citizens of other countries." "From" mean they or their ancestors originally came from elsewhere. Obviously.

For more on Star Trek, see Is Captain Kirk a Conservative? and Miramanee in Star Trek Continues.

September 20, 2015

Indian wannabes = sports mascots

A Facebook discussion of Indian wannabe-ism that applies to Susan Taffe Reed, Andrea Smith, and Rachel Dolezal:

I don't understand this huge need to be Indian. Why can't people say they're multiracial? As in, "I'm A, B, C, D, E, F, and Delaware." Not Delaware, period.

In my case, it would be English, Irish, Welsh, German, and other European groups. It wouldn't occur to me to pick one--say, Irish--and make that my identity. Much less tell other Irish people they need to accept me as one of them. I think Native Mascotry needs some serious study. It's like a mental illness.It's related to mascotry, I'd say. The same issues keep coming up--with Dolezal, Smith, and now Reed as well as generations of previous wannabes.

Namely, that people don't want to be white because white folks did nasty, icky things. Much better to be an oppressed but still noble minority like black or Native.

Now I'm on the good side, they can tell themselves, not the bad side. I'm like a virtuous Plains chief or the equivalent sports mascot. People don't fear and hate me, they love me!

Same thing goes on with the Germans and other Europeans who act as Indian "hobbyists." They don't want to be a modern Indian fighting to protect a sacred site or prevent suicide. They want to be a noble Plains Indian on horseback by a tipi. I.e., a living mascot.

Another clue is that no one ever claims to be descended from a Cherokee slave or scullery maid or fumble-fingered warrior. It's almost always "royalty" such as a princess.

Why? Because it's about exalting yourself, not connecting to the culture. If you were seeking a genuine connection, you wouldn't care about the status of your alleged ancestor. A peasant or a slave would be as good as a chief.

Wannabes = losers?

Another commenter had similar thoughts:Ok, let's be honest--it's not just that people don't want to be White because White people did bad things--they're trying to justify why they're not benefitting from the White privilege they're supposed to have. They know full well that if they're White, good things are supposed to happen to them--so why are they poor? Why are they sick? Why can't they get ahead? And they justification a number of these people get is that they must be part something else. they're certainly not going to say they're part black, because that removes them from the White privilege sphere altogether--but Indian, now that's close enough to White, but because Indians have gotten so screwed, it explains why they're being screwed. It saves them from confronting the system that's more than happy enough keeping a foot on their neck, and comforts them at the same time, believing themselves to be just part of a long line of oppressed Noble Savages.For more on Indian wannabes, see Native Scholars Demand Academic Integrity and Wannabes Obscure Real Indians.

September 19, 2015

The Dartmouth Dolezal?

Native Americans Blast Dartmouth for New Hire

The new director of Dartmouth’s Native American Program is causing controversy over her confusing—and possibly inaccurate—background.

By Samantha Allen
A week ago, Dartmouth announced that ethnomusicologist Susan Taffe Reed is the new director of the college’s Native American Program, boasting that she is “the president of the Eastern Delaware Nations.”

But the Eastern Delaware Nations (EDN) is not a federally recognized Native American tribe, it’s a 501(c)(3) that also allows “members [who] are not of Native American descent, but [who] join as social members.” And, after a searing blog post unearthed alleged death certificates of Taffe’s ancestors that show her family coming to the U.S. from Ireland after the Indian Removal Act, Native American alumni of the college are protesting the hire on their Facebook page. Native American media is also scrutinizing Dartmouth’s decision to hire someone for a student affairs position who seems less than forthcoming about her own heritage.

The issue, they say, is not necessarily the EDN’s lack of federal recognition but a refusal of transparency on Taffe Reed’s part that recalls recent cases like disgraced former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal and UC Riverside professor Andrea Smith, who continues to claim Cherokee identity despite backlash from Cherokee scholars and leaders.
And:Dr. Nicky Kay Michael, a Native American historian and member of the federally recognized Delaware Tribal Council told The Daily Beast that she is very skeptical of Taffe Reed’s claim to be from the Turtle Clan if she is unwilling to openly discuss her heritage.

“When you say those things, that’s a red flag,” Michael said. “If you are Delaware, you’re going to have to say who your family is. It’s not just a case of federal recognition; we want to know who you are. What family do you come from?”

As Michael notes, the Delaware tribes in the United States that currently have federal recognition originally lived near the Delaware River but relocated west under pressure from the government beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. The Pennsylvania-based Eastern Delaware Nations group from which Taffe Reed hails claims on its website that most of its members are “descendants of Native Americans who lived in the Endless Mountains Region of Northeastern Pennsylvania and resisted being removed” but many in official Delaware tribes, Michael included, dispute the notion that a substantial number of Native Americans stayed behind in the Northeast.

“They don’t ask our permission to use our name and then they appropriate our culture,” Michael said of the EDN. “What [Taffe Reed] did is she basically used this 501(c)(3) as a forum and then she wrote articles claiming to be Delaware.” Michael does not speak for the Delaware Tribe but she says that an official statement is forthcoming.
The head of a Native studies program doesn't have to be Native herself. But people are questioning whether she fibbed about being Native, which is an ethics issue regardless of her ancestry.

They're also concerned about conflating a nonprofit organization--one with non-Natives as members--with an unrecognized tribe. An unrecognized tribe has people living together with a shared culture and a documented history. A nonprofit like the Eastern Delaware Nations (EDN) Inc. generally doesn't.

For more on the subject, see "White" = Ordinary and Bland and Andrea Smith the White Savior.

September 18, 2015

Review of Rocky Road to Romance

The Rocky Road to RomanceThe author of so many spectacularly successful mystery novels featuring the inimitable Stephanie Plum, #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich displays a more playfully romantic side with The Rocky Road to Romance. Evanovich delights with a classic, pre-Plum contemporary romance novel that’s sure to please—a lighthearted tale of three-way love affair involving a radio “dog lady”-turned-traffic reporter, her handsome program director, and a huge couch potato canine named Bob.

From the Back Cover

Her tall, dark, and deliciously dangerous boss . . .

When the delightful, daffy Dog Lady of station WZZZ offered to take on the temporary job of traffic reporter, Steve Crow tried to think of reasons to turn Daisy Adams down. Perhaps he knew that sharing the close quarters of a car with her for hours would give the handsome program director no room to resist her quirky charms. He'd always favored low-slung sportscars and high-heeled women, but that was before he fell for a free spirit who caught crooks by accident, loved old people and pets, and had just too many jobs!

Loving Daisy turned Steve's life upside down, especially once he adopted Bob, a huge dog masquerading as a couch potato. But was Daisy finally ready to play for keeps?
The Rocky Road to Romance (Elsie Hawkins #4)Bark's Book Nonsense rated it 3 of 5 stars

I picked this oldie out of the bag of audios rattling around in my hatch because I wanted something fluff filled for my latest car read and that’s exactly what I got. If you’ve read any of her romances you’ll know what I mean. They’re fun while you’re listening but pretty forgettable once finished.

sarafem rated it 3 of 5 stars

As with most romance novels, I found it a little condescending and obnoxious that things moved so quickly and yet so perfectly. Suspension of belief is one thing, overdoing a fairy tale that makes me uncomfortable in the first place is a whole other.

Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars

The story contains many romance cliches which are stripped down to the bare essentials. None of the characters, including the dog, and few of the situations are believable, but they're fun. Several of these early works have a hero that falls in love instantly and decides he's going to marry the heroine.
Native aspects

Steve Crow is an Indian--a full-blooded one, I think. He's described as a classic bad boy with brooding good looks.

He and his family are oil tycoons, which suggests they're Osage Indians. Judging by how Crow buys a house and an SUV for cash, they're multimillionaires. Which makes his job as a radio station manager, worrying about traffic reports, a little unbelievable.

Crow never says or does anything "Native." Daisy meets his parents, but they're no different from other rich people. The most we learn about Crow's Native background is when he talks about visiting his grandfather. Grandfather lived in a trailer on the reservation, for some reason, and imparted words of wisdom to young Crow.

Anyway, Evanovich's portrayal of Crow isn't bad. As you'd expect of a handsome young rich man, he's cocky and spoiled--used to getting his way. His main attraction to Daisy seems to be lust, not love. All this is a refreshing change from the usual stoic veteran/warrior/tortured soul.

As for the rest of the book, Steve and Daisy both seem a little shallow, so perhaps they deserve each other. Steve's macho protectiveness, which he can afford only because he's rich, gets annoying. But parts of the book are, as they say, a hoot. Rob's rating: 7.5 of 10.

September 17, 2015

What if Britain had won?

Here's a subject historians and sci-fi authors have written about:

What if Britain had won the Revolutionary War?

By James Giago DaviesFor the first half of the 19th Century Britain was a brutal power, but by the start of the 20th Century, slavery had been outlawed, the monarchy lost actual power to Parliament, and became just a figurehead, and social reform resulted in better education, better working conditions, for the White population in Britain.

Likely these reforms would have taken place in America.
The outcome for Indians:The big question becomes, by the 1870’s, would the British Army have treated the Lakota better than the U.S. Army did?

Given how they were acting in South Africa and India at the time, the answer is probably no. The reserve system in Canada gives a fair indication of how reserves would have been set up in British controlled America. It’s not a great improvement.
The present-day situation:There would be a much more robust infrastructure, and modernized electrical grid, better public transportation, high speed rail crisscrossing the nation, making for far less dependence on fossil fuels. Health care would be free. Education would be free.

Money would not dominate politics to the degree it does now, corrupting Congress, subverting democracy. The Lakota would have received fair restitution for the Black Hills, and the badly implemented BIA programs, would run much more efficiently because many of these programs would be a right of every citizen.
Comment:  For more on alternate histories, see Reivew of Aquila in the New World and Native Stereotypes in Life of Brian.

September 16, 2015

Trump promises white male rule

Here's why Donald Trump is leading among the predominately white, male voters of the Republican Party:

Donald Trump & white America’s anxiety: The political throes of a forgotten country

Liberals, don't kid yourselves: "The Donald" is not just a media creation. He's a tribune of our past—and future

By Elias Isquith
He’s a demagogic ethno-nationalist of the kind that’s succeeded before in American history, especially during times of great upheaval and dislocation. Think of him as our Huey Long, our George Wallace.

Besides a genius for self-promotion, what Trump has in common with those two men is this: He appeals to a large swathe of Americans who have not only lived through massive social disruption—the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement, respectfully—but who have had their fundamental assumptions about Americanness, and therefore themselves, challenged in the process. When his fans speak of “taking” their country back, they are not being tongue-in-cheek. They are deathly serious.

Although their complaints are often unsympathetic and their solutions are frequently barbarous, they are not exactly wrong. Republicans are, on the whole, older and whiter than Democrats. They’re also more religious, more discriminatory in their sexual mores (or at least their professed ones) and more likely to live in rural areas. For the vast majority of their lives, the American mainstream has been white, Christian and at least suburban, if not rural.

But it’s been 50 years since President Johnson liberalized U.S. immigration law, and the younger generations (Millennials and Generation X, especially) are different. They’re less white, less religious and less rural. They’re more supportive of big government in the economy and small government in the bedroom, too. The country that Trump’s supporters grew up in really is evaporating. And they’re coming to find that many of their basic assumptions of what it means to be a “real American” are no longer allowed.

Like Long and Wallace before him, what Trump offers these people is not only a return to a glorious past, but also a reassurance. Specifically, Trump’s vision of a nation purged of immigrants—both documented and otherwise—and cleansed of “political correctness” suggests to these voters that America-as-they-knew-it is not historically contingent. And that the transformation of the country was not an inevitability. He promises them, in effect, that they will not be so easily swept aside.
How the GOP primary became a race to channel America’s racist id

Donald Trump inaugurated a disturbing new era in politics, wherein dogwhistles have given way to overt racism

By Eesha Pandi
Donald Trump’s success isn’t all that mysterious and it isn’t particularly new. He’s trafficking in the fear of a shifting American demographic. The story here is not necessarily the racist and anti-immigrant message anchoring Trump’s ideology. Instead, it’s the fact that so much of the Republican electorate is with him, and that other members of the GOP are unable to challenge his message for fear of losing that base.

More than half of Trump’s stump speech is a finely tuned anti-immigrant screed about the importance of building a wall, and getting criminals out of the country. He picked a fight with Jorge Ramos, beloved reporter for Univision and American citizen, at a national press conference last week. After that exchange, one of Trump’s supporters threateningly told Ramos to “get out of my country.”

Under “Positions” on Trump’s campaign website, there is only one issue listed: immigration reform. He is the anti-immigration candidate, and he’s winning his party’s primary.

The rhetoric of the Trump campaign is bombastic. He touts how tough he’ll be on China, how his business success inoculates him from needing to trade favors with lobbyists, how he’ll be humane as he deports 11 million undocumented immigrants, their families and their children. He reminded us, at the press conference in which he ejected Jorge Ramos, that “Hispanics love me!” All the while, he promises “make America great again.”

This begs the question: To which golden age of American greatness is Trump harkening? The answer of course is, it doesn’t matter. Trump’s message isn’t actually about the past, it’s about the future of this country: Who will live here, and how? Who will have power, and how? Will the fact that white people will be minority in America change the power structures within our social, cultural, political and legal institutions? These are the questions that Donald Trump is aiming to answer, and these are the fears he is so effectively stoking.
Trumpism Is All About Racism, Xenophobia and Coded White Privilege

By Mark KarlinOkay, Donald Trump is a brash, brazen, bumptious, sexist billionaire who appeals to a bilious, bigoted segment of the US population. Some argue his followers love Trumpism because Trump himself blares out loud the thoughts rattling inside their own heads. Trump, according to this theory, allows the haters who might ordinarily feel inhibited about expressing their intolerance to blatantly bask in feelings of white superiority.

This is coded into Trump's now-iconic campaign slogan that simply says: "Make America Great Again." What a loaded four words those are. Ever since Obama's election, this expression--or variations of it--have been the rallying cry for making America "white again." After all, many Republicans still don't believe Obama was born in the United States. (The "birther" movement was essentially about denying a Black man residence in the White House.) This is the context in which Trumpism and the "Make America Great [White] Again" appeal has spread like wildfire among whites who feel that the United States should be a nation of white governance and privilege.
And:Trump is engaging in the most base and sordid form of racist appeal--and it is working to attract and energize bigoted whites, closeted or otherwise. There's a reason David Duke called Trump "the best of the lot."

The "Make America Great Again" slogan makes people like Sarah Palin, who admires Trump, feel right at home. That is because the return to a mythical era of US "greatness" is really a coded desire for the nostalgic image of a majority-white, white-dominated, white-ruled society. It is a thinly veiled statement that roundly rejects a robust democracy that embraces diversity. It is an appeal to make the US resemble the so-called "founding fathers": in general, white, male, propertied and wealthy.

Donald Trump’s white male fantasy: You’re one lucky break away from being me

Trump isn't selling a policy agenda. He's selling the idea of power and status and those who feel it slipping

By David Rosen
The available polling suggests Trump’s strongest supporters are predominately white Republican men, middle-aged or older, with low educational attainment and either working class or lower middle class backgrounds. Some polls have suggested they are less religious than the typical Republican voter, somewhat more likely to live in the Northeast or the Midwest and may be Tea Party supporters or sympathizers. Despite what we don’t know, we do know that they are attracted to Trump because of his willingness to speak his mind and his sharply anti-immigrant views.

There are two particularly interesting things about this slice of America. The first is that if you ignore their contemporary party preferences and turn back the clock about 60 years, this is the same demographic segment that was at the heart of the New Deal coalition. By the 1980s, voters who fit this profile came to be called the “Reagan Democrats” as they fled the Democratic Party. By the late 1990s, many of them were voting straight ticket Republican. Political strategists and pundits have given them a number of colorful monikers–from “hard working white people” to “NASCAR dads”–and have made a fetish out of winning their votes, even in elections when they probably weren’t up for grabs. The truth is that these voters, especially the ones living in rural and ex-urban areas, have been a key constituency in the Republican Party’s base at least since President George W. Bush took office.

Most of these voters are old enough to remember a time when white working men–and their organized proxies in Washington–sat at the pinnacle of American life. Many of them still long for that long-gone age when being a white man meant you were on top of the world. And while these voters are nowhere near the bottom of America’s contemporary social hierarchy, they don’t see it that way. The entire trajectory of their lives has been the experience of relative decline in power, wealth and social status in relation to other groups–as women, people of color, gays and lesbians and other groups have won greater social acceptance and rights to which they were entitled but previously denied. At the same time, a similar shift has been underway on the global stage, as nations around the world–from China to Japan to Mexico–have become our competitors in the global economy. Add to that several decades of wage stagnation, exploding inequality and the disappearance of good paying jobs, and it’s clear that the white working class has experienced the past half-century as a steady and uninterrupted loss. It’s easy to see why they feel like losers.

So when Trump says, “We don’t win anymore,” as he did twice during the first GOP presidential debate, he’s complaining that white men no longer call all the shots. He’s playing to the racist, misogynist and xenophobic resentments harbored by these downscale voters. His confrontational, shameless, never-back-down posturing is more than just a quality these voters want in a leader–it’s a live demonstration of what it’s like to live in a world where you never have to apologize for anything, no matter how much it hurts or offends other people and other groups. Trump is what it looks like to win.
The polls confirm what pundits are saying:

Nationwide Poll: Majority of Republicans Have Nakedly Racist Worldview—Trump Has Found the Way to Unleash It

GOPers are living in a dangerous right-wing fantasyland—and are just fine with that.

By Steven Rosenfeld
Not only did PPP find that a majority of Republicans believe the birther lie—that Obama was not actually born in Hawaii—but 51 percent of all Republicans polled want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, which is granted to any person born on U.S. soil. Of Trump’s supporters, 63 percent want to eliminate that right, and a majority said undocumented children should be deported.

“I’m not terribly surprised by the birther numbers or the numbers about Obama’s religion,” said Tom Jensen, PPP director. He said the numbers are consistent with what he’s seen in GOP polls in recent years, and matched another new poll from Iowa where about 35 percent of the state’s GOP electorate are "birthers."

But what is surprising to Jensen is how Trump’s candidacy has made Republicans more willing to publicly admit their xenophobic or racist positions.

“Trump has sent a message that it’s okay to be racist,” he said. “So maybe some racist attitudes you previously held, or were not allowed to say in public, now one of the leading presidential candidates is saying them and not apologizing at all.”
Comment:  For more on Donald Trump, see Trump Lovers = White Supremacists and Trump Lovers Champion "White Power."

September 15, 2015

Acadian singer's stereotypical music video

Natasha St-Pier faces backlash over First Nation-themed music video

Some say Acadian singer's music video is rife with stereotypes depicting First Nations peopleNew Brunswick entertainer Natasha St-Pier has brought attention to her Acadian roots with her new music video, Tous Les Acadiens, but the attention hasn't been positive.

The video, which includes 34-year-old St-Pier sporting a full headdress, dream catchers and the singer paddling a birch canoe, has been criticized by René Cormier, president of the Société nationale de l'Acadie (SNA).

"Despite all the efforts we do, we continue to convey these kind of clichés," Cormier told Radio-Canada on Monday.

Rife with stereotypes depicting aboriginal culture in Canada, the video also includes children in paper headdresses dancing around a teepee.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see and Rod Stewart's Daughter in a Headdress.

September 14, 2015

Red (Wolf) flags

A Twitter exchange on Marvel's new Red Wolf:

Lita Nadebah Beck ‏@LitaBeck Sep 8
Re: Marvel's #RedWolf, I think it's worth pointing out that character from made-up tribe is no win for diversity #RepresentationMatters

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Sep 10
@LitaBeck I question the Veregge cover too. Looks like a stylized version of new costume with painted mask, bear paws on half-naked savage.

Lita Nadebah Beck ‏@LitaBeck Sep 10
@bluecorncomics Have you seen the alternate cover? This book is like stereotype Mad Libs: Red Wolf Can Keep His Shirt On

No, I hadn't seen it, I responded. Not much of a costume, but it's the kind of clothing Indians such as Geronimo wore in 1872. A Facebook commenter added some thoughts:The issues with Red Wolf so far: 1) Northwest artist advising on a character Marvel has strongly stated in press releases is ingrained in the Southwest (this is not a insult against Jeff Veregge because he's a great artist, its just he hasn't shown qualifications for the type of story Marvel has been advertising). 2) "Does he wear warpaint to bed?!?!" --Lee Francis, meaning the design is a little cliché and not updated very well (see Equinox from Justice League Unlimited for a good portrayal of a Native superhero costume). 3) Marvel's new "diversity" hires seem gimmicky so far and there is apprehension they will not stick to the promise of a more diverse future. 4) So far the character and story are just boring and not very exciting. Maybe when his own title comes out in Dec it will be better, but for now it's just "eh."It's good that Native artist Veregge is involved. But he's doing covers more than anything else, so I wonder how much input he'll have. If any.

Since they seem to be playing Red Wolf as a generic Indian, I wouldn't rule out Veregge's offering useful ideas. I also wouldn't rule out their ignoring him unless he makes his points forcefully. Backed by a willingness to go public or even quit if they do something worse than "wearing facepaint to bed."

Violent vigilante?

Then there's the issue of the writer. As I tweeted:

.@LitaBeck Another Red (Wolf) flag: writer Edmondson is allegedly a right-winger who's anti-gay and harasses women. On Nathan Edmondson, Marvel, and the Cycle of Harassment (Updated)

I continued my commentary on Facebook:

Now it would surprise me even less if Red Wolf is a ruthless vigilante a la the Punisher while other Indians are downtrodden, faceless, or invisible.

This led to a discussion with comics critic Greg Burgas:I read about this a few days ago, and the key, as always, is allegedly. Being conservative isn't a crime, nor is disparaging anyone verbally. What's frustrating about this is not that Edmondson is a scumbag (I'm sure he is), but that the people accusing him of being a scumbag are saying, "Trust us, we're right!" But why should we? Is this a whisper campaign just because you don't like the guy or his politics? Why will absolutely no one go on the record? I know the reasoning for that--that companies will blacklist those who speak up--but that's problematic, because then we're just supposed to trust the word of people whose ulterior motive we don't know. This is very frustrating, and I hate thinking it's a smear campaign, but every article I've read about it offers absolutely no evidence except, "This is what we've heard but we can't verify."Being conservative isn't a crime, but a conservative is a poor choice to write the most mainstream comic book about an Indian since Scalped. Especially since the violent vigilante tone they're hinting at is similar to the approach we saw in Scalped.

That's my main concern here. Harassing women is serious but, as you say, there's no hard evidence. And it'll have less effect on the Red Wolf comics than a general right-wing philosophy.Oh, I agree. I haven't read a lot of Edmondson's work, but he seems like a poor choice for something like this, unless he's simply going to write him as a "ruthless vigilante," as you point out. He seems to write middle-of-the-road action stuff, with a pro-military bent, which makes him a good writer for 1980s action movies but perhaps not the guy you want writing this.And regardless of Edmondson's alleged right-wing philosophy, what are his qualifications for writing about Indians? His claim that Red Wolf is from another dimension and doesn't need a historical background?

That should be an immediate disqualifier, not a clever qualifier. Yet Edmondson will get to define Indians in mainstream comics for the next decade the way Jason Aaron did for the last decade.

If Marvel wants to experiment with a Native comic book, how about experimenting with a Native writer too? I could suggest dozens of Native writers who would bring a fresh approach to the comic a la Ms. Marvel.

Or perhaps Marvel is thinking, "We'll experiment with a Native comic book, but only with an established writer who'll give us an established take. Sort of a Clint Eastwood/Jason Bourne/Punisher thing that has nothing to do with real Indians but is sure to be popular."

In that case, we should be slamming Marvel as much as applauding it for its weak and ambivalent choices. Which is what I'm doing here. ;-)

For more on Red Wolf, see Marvel to Relaunch Red Wolf and Same-Old, Same-Old Red Wolf.

September 13, 2015

Company Says Indian Mascots Are Reason They Can Sell Headdresses

By Sheena Louise RoetmanNovum Crafts, according to its website, is a group of indigenous artists from Bali who make and sell “authentic looking replicas” of Native American headdresses, or war bonnets, which sell from $69 to $139.

There a couple pages on the website that address cultural appropriation and the meaning of a headdress. The example of the Seminole Tribe of Florida's co-signing of the Florida State Seminole mascot, as well as Saginaw Chippewa's now-revoked permission for Central Michigan University to use Native mascots, are specifically cited in these explanations.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington NFL team are all also specifically identified and used as justification for appropriation.

The site explains that the teams that use this imagery are simply “implying: ‘We will win! We are the braves, we are chiefs, we will fight until you are defeated.’ How is it offensive to attribute such desirable characteristics of bravery, valor, honor and courage to known objects or symbols from the Native Americans?”
Comment:  This company is mildly interesting for a few reasons:

  • They own I never thought about who might own the URL, if anyone.

  • They give a long, specious rationale for misappropriating and selling headdresses. They know they're violating Native beliefs but do it anyway.

  • They claim to be a collective of indigenous (Balinese) artists. But there are hints that the models, the photographer(s), and perhaps the owners are located in the US. If Asian workers are involved, they may be hired hands.

  • For more on the subject, see Los Angeles Magazine's "Going Native" and Hockey Ad Features Stereotypical "Indians."