May 06, 2011

Apologists try to spin codename

Although I've mostly reported what Indians have been saying about the codename "Geronimo" for Osama bin Laden, non-Indians have been trying to spin the controversy. Here are some of their arguments and my rebuttals:

Walker:  Apaches take a stand for GeronimoSo, was the name chosen because of the evasive skills Geronimo and bin Laden had in common—or because the name has become symbolic of bravery and fierce determination in the military? I would prefer to believe the latter. Maybe we'll find out in time.Neither, since we have several quotes referring to bin Laden as "Geronimo." And if "Geronimo" were the mission rather than the target, the "reasoning" still would be offensive. "To kill a savage terrorist, we named the mission after a savage terrorist."

Code names, stereotypes and SpongeBob missilesSome speculate the code name was selected because Geronimo and his small band of Apaches was able to avoid capture by the U.S. cavalry by hiding out in the mountains. Some say the code name reflects the stealthy approach used by Seal Team 6 to conduct the bin Laden operation.

Others just point out that military code names are chosen randomly. The Defense Department said no disrespect was intended.
Well, which is it? Only one of these reasons is true, at most. What you're implicitly saying is that most of the apologists, and maybe all of them, are wrong.

Until you can come up with a single reason and support it with evidence from the Obama administration, you shouldn't bother trying. You're just guessing and it's pathetically obvious.

GeronimoThe code naming of bin Laden probably had more to do with Geronimo being one of the more famous outlaws that evaded the US Military for decades, not any direct comparisons of the actual person. Also the term “Geronimo” is commonly used to describe a daring action. It also may have simply been random, like most code names.Apparently this writer had a pleasant daydream about where the codename came from. The elusive argument is bogus, as is the random argument. And again, it has to be one or the other, not both.

If the US wanted to convey daring, it could've used an alternative codename. General George Washington was daring, so let's call it "Operation Washington." If you believe this ridiculous line of "reasoning," why not?

If you don't know the military's reasoning, which is clearly the case, just say so. But spare us the worthless speculation.

Codename: Geronimo—The Blogosphere ReactsThey used his name because whatever else you want to call him he was a brave warrior and a tough fighter and our paratroops wanted to emulate him in that regard. So it is actually the exact opposite of what these clowns think. “Devastating” and “Inappropriate” indeed. When we stop celebrating the military prowess of Native Americans by eliminating all references to warriors, braves and chiefs the natives will be completely invisible and totally forgotten.Since no one has stated the military's reason for choosing the codename, again, you're imagining the reason. And it's asinine to think we need stereotypical names and images to remember Indians. If eliminated every Native stereotype in America, we'd still have millions of reminders of our Native heritage.The accusation that the modern US military is “Anti-Native American” is absurd if your paying any attention. Native Americans are referenced in the military for dozens of things, most of the time positively. The US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division proudly displays a Native American warrior on its unit patch. Most modern helicopters are named after Native American tribes. There was even a Marine Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan named Geronimo.Comparing Indians to deadly soldiers, lethal weapons, and other killing machines is no compliment. Many Indians are offended by and reject such comparisons. If you're paying attention, that is.

"We didn't mean to call you a terrorist"

Code Geronimo

Was the choice of operation names an insult?

By John Hayward
It’s inconceivable that anyone connected with Operation Geronimo intended the name as an insult to the Apache or his descendants. To assume otherwise comically underestimates the eagerness of official America to avoid offending segments of our population that have their own Senate Committees. We may never know for sure, but I suspect the name was chosen because it’s so familiar. If there was any deeper significance, it may lie in the courageous way our SEALs ended a very long hunt.

No one in their right minds thinks the sniveling coward who answered for over three thousand murders last Sunday has anything in common with the eternal avatar of the Apache warrior spirit. The U.S. military doesn’t name its weapon systems after “Native American icons and cultures” as a gesture of contempt. Sports teams are not given Indian names because the fans look down on Indians. His great-grandson may choose to disagree, but I don’t see any disrespect in writing the fabled name of Geronimo into American history one more time, as part of a great victory for freedom, and justice for so many murdered families.
Ah, the magical power of intent. If people don't intend to be insulting, offensive, and racist, they aren't insulting, offensive, and racist. So the examples we see every week of racism and stereotyping are all in our imagination.

And of course most people don't intend to be racist--or so they say. And we can't prove otherwise because we can't read their minds. So Indians and other minorities have no reason to feel insulted. These minorities may be dung-eating, devil-worshiping beast-men, but hey, I was just kidding, so they can't blame me for their reactions.

Finally, a Native friend of mine vehemently opposes Indian mascots but says the "Geronimo" codename is irrelevant. I guess his argument is that mascots are an example of institutionalized racism while the codename was a one-time aberration. To that I'd say: Wrong. The codename is the tip of a centuries-old iceberg of submerged racist thinking. In the military alone, we see myriads of examples of the same institutional racism: Indians as warriors and killers--i.e., savages.

We see it everywhere else, too. Nicknaming a sports team "Redskins" is the same thing as nicknaming a military mission "Geronimo." Americans use the same stereotypical thinking to arrive at the same stereotypical result.

To reiterate: An Indian as a one-dimensional foe/fighter/warrior/savage/killer is no compliment. Being given any one-dimensional label is a insult to three-dimensional people, people.

As for the issue's relevance, the codename has generated more responses from tribal leaders and organizations than any issue in memory. It has appeared in major media outlets--e.g., the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. It was the subject of a Senate hearing. Anyone who thinks it isn't important to Natives doesn't understand what's important to them.

For more on the subject, see Advocates Criticize Codename at Hearing and Apaches Demand Apology for Codename.


Anonymous said...

Oh, so how was Free Comic Book Day? Did you participate? My store had it alongside a Magic prerelease, and a kid got two of the most valuable card in the new set. So apparently pay $30, get $100. Awesome. I wish my investments returned a 200% profit within minutes.

Anyway, it's bad, because even against enemies a lot more sympathetic to Indians than bin Laden, we've been completely loyal to the U.S. What, exactly, does this mass murderer who used to work for Reagan have in common with Geronimo?

If they have to name him after an Indian, name him after a Pawnee, since they helped the U.S. spread democracy across the Great Plains by killing as many people already living there as possible.

dmarks said...

" him after a Pawnee..."

Once again blatant racism of tribe against tribe rears its ugly head here. It does not happen too often, but it does happen. Early frequent examples include Russ Bates' hatred of all people Cherokee and all people in other tribes that supposedly crossed the Kiowa in historic times. I've even seen all Apache people villified by a modern Native as villanous scum in comments at "Newspaper Rock".

Does anyone have any doubt that the

"Please note that Pawnees and other American Indians are living people with a present and a future as well as a past. Pawnee history is interesting and important, but the Pawnee Indians are still here today"

There's no bashing of them in this site, which is run by non-bigoted Natives.

Click here for a picture of Pawnee president Marshall Gover... whom Anon above would have us believe likes to kill as many people as possible.