Time Magazine Snubs Indians Again
Every Native American can probably name 10 Indians that deserve to be on Time's list of most influential people. The problem is nobody asks them. Out of sight out of mind does not lead to a cohesive means of communications. White and black editors see who is around them in their own little world and Native Americans are not a part of their world.
I wish there were more influential Natives. But I don't have a problem with Natives not being on the list. We're talking about the 100 most influential people in the world. Heads of state, of religion, of multinational corporations. Newsmakers and celebrities whom millions of people listen to and emulate. Does any Native person really compare to that?
Stevens or Cyrus?
Consider Ernie Stevens Jr. He's been a great leader for the Indian gaming industry, but how many people does this industry affect worldwide? Not that many. If he hadn't existed, would the industry be substantially different? I doubt it.
Or consider Elouise Cobell. She brought a great scandal--the lack of payments on trust fund accounts--to light. But so far there hasn't been a definitive court ruling requiring payment. And even if the US did pony up billions of dollars, how many people would it help? A few hundred thousand? That's less than 1/10,000th of the world's population.
Giago compares Stevens to Miley Cyrus:
It doesn't matter whether the influence is good or bad, consequential or inconsequential, short- or long-lived. If millions of people are following you, it doesn't matter where you're leading them. You have influence by definition.
Giago makes a mistake
If you look at Time's list, I think you could argue against most of the people on it. If I were making the list, it would consist mostly of world leaders and CEOs with a smattering of inventors and celebrities. No way would I include Robert Downey Jr. (who isn't really a millionaire playboy industrialist) and leave off Pope Benedict XVI. But I doubt I'd add any Natives.
Actually, Giago has overlooked one Indian on the list: Evo Morales. As Time put it:
Let's look at the numbers. There are roughly 50 million Indians in the Americas. Most of them--about 95%--are in Latin America. These Indians comprise slightly less than 1% of the world's population. (50 million = 1% of 5 billion.)
If you went by the statistics, you'd expect to find one Indian, a Latin American, in Time's 100. Lo and behold, that's exactly what you find. Far from being biased, Time has fairly and accurately gauged the relative importance of Indians.
Who's the most influential?
Unfortunately, Time didn't rank the people in its list. Humorist Joel Stein explains the problem:
To me this seems like a valid approach. The number of times we talk about people is a rough guide to their influence. As someone who does have a mathematical background, I approve of Stein's effort.
With that in mind, here are Stein's top 10:
George W. Bush
Kevin Rudd (Australian PM)
Not bad. According to Stein, a Native is the sixth most influential person in the world. Morales is the third highest world leader, the second highest non-Caucasian (after Obama), and the highest person from the "Third World."
Of course, one could argue with this ranking also. Clinton, Obama, and McCain won't have a significant world influence unless they're elected president. Blair is out of office. No one from Australia has significantly influenced the rest of the world.
For more on the subject, see The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons.
Below: Someone can be influential even if he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.