March 24, 2009

Former Noc-A-Homa = (oxy)moron

Ex-Braves mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa talks tepee

‘Political correctness is an oxymoron,’ former stadium fan favorite Levi Walker Jr. contends Now: “Political correctness is an oxymoron, like ‘pretty awful’ or ‘military intelligence.’ The first indication is that it starts with the word ‘political.’ That tells you there’s something wrong. It leaves no room for discussion, negotiation, equality. Political correctness is my way or the highway.”

Then: “As soon as I became Chief Noc-A-Homa, I felt my neck stretching over a chopping block. I knew somebody wouldn’t like it. … All those people in the Native American movement were calling me Uncle Tom, sellout, turncoat and all these other names. The tomahawk chop. They protested it. But why didn’t they protest the tomahawk missile? It’s more deadly, capable of going in a door or a window and killing everybody.”
Comment:  Walker actually has a point when he says "political correctness" is an oxymoron. It's hard to call an intellectual point correct when it's subject to political pressures.

But he blows it when he says people can't discuss a "political" issue. What he means is that he can't discuss the issue of Chief Noc-A-Homa because he doesn't have a leg to stand on. He'd get his butt kicked if he tried.

In other words, Chief Noc-A-Homa is incorrect, period--a phony stereotype that has nothing to do with real Indians. And the criticism of Chief Noc-A-Homa is correct, period--not "politically correct." The critics have nailed the Chief for his stereotypical portrayal of Indians.

This allows me to call Walker an oxymoron. He's a real Indian, presumably, but he pretends to be a fake Indian. He's a real fake Indian or a fake real Indian, which sounds oxymoronic to me.

Tomahawk chop vs. missile

As for the Tomahawk missile, it's a weapon, genius, just like a tomahawk. The name doesn't tie the missile to any particular tribe or culture, so no one is particularly upset about it. Indians are generally proud about their role in the military and any connections to it.

Unlike the tomahawk chop, the missile isn't in everyone's face on national TV during the baseball season. Soldiers aren't comparing themselves to Indians and saying they're going to chop their enemies with Tomahawk missiles. There's no association with Indians except the Tomahawk name itself.

I for one have criticized the use of Indian names for military craft. It's the same problem as associating Indians with braves and warriors. It stereotypes them as being warlike and nothing else--i.e., one-dimensional.

But even *I* don't think it's a major issue in the stereotype field. Once we get rid of all the stereotypical team names and mascots, then we can worry about stereotypical helicopter and missile names. Until then, they're a low priority.

Below:  The Chief Noc-A-Homa logo, which looks nothing like a chief or an Indian from Milwaukee or Atlanta. But who cares, because all Indians are the same, right?

I can't tell if he's laughing, shouting a war cry, or braying like a donkey. Can you?

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