July 03, 2011

Showband critics = "PC cockroaches"?!

In the same posting where the Corrigan Brothers supported the "Indians" showband, a debate broke out in the comments section. The instigator's name was Mojo Celtica and I gather she (?) is an American of Irish/Cherokee descent. Here's how it went:American insanity? It's not us. What's insane is that we tolerate these little roving bands of vocal PC cockroaches at all. The majority of Americans aren't like this. Those claiming offense aren't even American Indians (who would howl because I didn't say "Native Americans"). These PC-types are professional whiners. Ignore them. We do.Someone named Deejay NDN responded to Mojo:So now people think Native Americans as inanimate objects? We're living breathing PEOPLE who don't like being made fun of! That's it! STOP MAKING FUN OF US!Mojo responded to Deejay NDN:Okay Deejay, I can see you're angry an upset so I will address you seriously.

No one believes Native Americans are inanimate objects. Everyone knows they are living breathing persons and have feelings. You perceive this band as "making fun" and find it hurtful. I understand. I have a completely different perception. I believe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, even if they're being silly. We Irish are a merry bunch. Being an "aboriginal" from the Americas is cool. They would not have chosen people to emulate if they despised them.

I am acutely aware of the history of Native American genocide and don't have to Google. Destroying this little Irish band will not heal the wounds of the American past. Many different peoples around the world have suffered genocide and have moved past it–not forgotten it, but moved past it… so they are not crippled in the present by the atrocities of the past.

I could slap the green beer out of the hand of every Englishman on St. Pat's, but it's history–not to be forgotten, but not to be relived each and every day of the present.

There are many worthwhile projects designed to directly help aboriginal peoples that would actually make a difference, yet you devote your time and attention to this little Irish band halfway around the world that most people have never heard of. I think you are angry and hurt, but if this band were disbanded tomorrow, you would still be just as angry and hurt. I can only wish you inner peace, Deejay.
Rob weighs in

My response to Mojo Celtica:

You're incredibly ignorant if you think large numbers of Native Americans are protesting the band because they want to be called "Native Americans" rather than "Indians." Rather, they're protesting the band because it perpetuates racist stereotypes linked to weakened tribal sovereignty, losing court cases, reduced funding for services, etc. In other words, actual problems that affect Native health and welfare.

You can read more of the criticism here:

Showband criticism reaches Irish press
"Blacks" showband vs. "Indians" showband
Natives attack "Indians" showband

"I am acutely aware of the history of Native American genocide and don't have to Google."

That's nice. Meanwhile, your colleagues the Corrigan Brothers continue perpetuating the racist stereotypes of the "Indians" band. And thousands of Irish fans cheer these racist stereotypes.

"What's insane is that we tolerate these little roving bands of vocal PC cockroaches at all."

Yeah, we can see how sensitive and thoughtful you are. "Vocal PC cockroaches" = hundreds if not thousands of Natives on Facebook. Basically, every Native who saw the postings about the "Indians" band.

"The majority of Americans aren't like this."

The majority of Americans are ignorant of the racism and stereotyping they perpetuate against Natives. Just as you and the "Indians" band are.

"Those claiming offense aren't even American Indians (who would howl because I didn't say ‘Native Americans')."

So you did background checks on all the people protesting the "Indians"? Or you just fabricated these claims because they sounded good? The latter, I think.

In any case, you're wrong on both counts. Try Googling these points since you so badly misstated the facts. Educate yourself so we don't have to do it for you.

More from Mojo

Mojo mostly ignored my comments and continued:Perhaps my failure to understand is that my identity and sense of self is not based on any one ethnicity. I have a grandfather who was German, one that was Cherokee, my grandmothers both Scot and Irish, and I consider myself to be an American. I have their blood, but not their history. I didn't walk the Trail of Tears. I wasn't driven from Ireland to the US by starvation. My native tongue wasn't forbidden to be used by the British. You get the drift. I cannot fight a battle that's already over. I choose to live in the present, not the past. If you want understanding, then you must be willing to understand.

If I got cheesed off every time someone made fun of my sons wearing "dresses" (kilts), or hear about drunkards being thrown in the "Paddy Wagon," seeing leprechauns drawn with monkey faces (less than human), etc., etc., I would just be mad and unhappy all the damn time. No one offends me unless I choose to be offended. Generally, I choose not to.

Most of the arguments made here don't get past an eye roll. I have listened; however, to Deejay, who can articulate what and how he feels without being hateful and combative. The fact that he is living oppression in The Now helps me relate, feel compassion and want to help on a human level.

I still don't believe the dissolution of a show band is the answer. For however distasteful… ‘If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.' ~ Noam Chomsky
Deejay NDN responded:The Indians aren’t imitating us. That’s the point. They’re making fun of us. What they’re doing is a misinformed stereotype of what Non Aboriginal people think we should look like. This is what’s so damaging. This is what’s racist.Mojo continued:@ Deejay: My issue with the show band is one of freedom of speech and expression. Not because I am a fan or am Irish.

I also have; however, an issue with oppression, and I am also concerned that people in your area "struggle for basic human necessities like drinkable water" and that "the suicide rate of aboriginals under the age 24 is 78.4 per 100 000".

Imagine if the publicity generated by this show band controversy instead highlighted these problems? What if all the energy expended in debating costumes were instead combined and directed at solving these issues and actually helping real people?

As Rob, The Diplomat, observed above, there are "hundreds if not thousands of Natives on Facebook." Why not harness the power of those people and enlist others to engage issues you can actually do something about? Beating this stereotyping thing to death could last forever. Tell us where to go, what to do, and how we can help right now.
Rob replies to Mojo

All the "honoring" and "flattering" arguments are pretty darn silly. Does anyone seriously think the "Indians" showband could perform at a genuine powwow without getting booed? Let's book them for the next tribal summit in Washington DC and see how tribal leaders respond. Who wants to bet on the outcome?

What matters in these situations isn't the "intent" of the offenders. It's the reactions of the offended. Your "belief" that you're flattering Indians is irrelevant, Mojo, since Indians have told you otherwise.

The magical power of intent

The problem with white/Indian comparisons is that Germans, Scots, and Irish aren't oppressed in the United States anymore. Native Americans are.

As I'm sure you know, discrimination against Irish Americans was widespread in the 19th century:

Irish American--discrimination

I've never heard of these Irish (or blacks, or Latinos, or Asians) laughing at the palpable prejudice against them. I bet they protested just as Indians are doing now. They stopped protesting only when the prejudice went away.

Almost everyone participating in this action is also involved in other causes. It's called multitasking. It doesn't take much effort to criticize a showband between projects.

These activists understand the link between prejudicial images, beliefs, and acts. When people think Indians are primitive savages, they're less likely to take Native issues seriously. If stereotypes don't influence them, why are they so ignorant about Native life today?

You say you know about the genocide, but do you know about the water and suicide problems? Do your fellow Irish know about them? Do they know anything other than their stereotypical beliefs about Indians? Because it sure isn't obvious from the writings of Stephen Maguire or the Corrigan Brothers.

This protest is raising the profile of Indians in Ireland. Who knows how many people it will inspire to read, visit, or contribute after discovering Indians aren't an extinct race of savages? You seem to be learning something; so is everyone else.

You want things to do? Spend five minutes a day reading Pechanga.net, Indianz.com, or Indian Country Today. "Like" their pages on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Learn what Indians think and want and they won't demand more of you.

Finally, I'm not sure anyone who uses the term "vocal PC cockroaches" should take a superior attitude. Clean up your nasty rhetoric before you worry about anyone else, okay?

More thoughts on "PC"

No one is saying the "Indians" band should disband, Mojo. We're saying they should stop using the stereotypical Indian names and images. They can perform under any identity they wish other than "Indians."

Sure, they have a right to "express" themselves. So does every racist who uses an offensive slur. But people also have a responsibility to other members of society. If you're going to indulge in stereotypes, you'd better have a good reason for doing it. Exploiting people for profit isn't enough of a reason for racist behavior.

Funny that you accused critics of trying to silence the "Indians." That's exactly what you did by labeling the critics "PC cockroaches," of course. That's what "political correctness" means these days: "I don't like your charges of racism so I'm going to call you the problem. I hope that'll shut you up so I can continue to enjoy racist images and acts."

"Political correctness" = silencing criticism

With your support for Aaron Paquette's reply, I guess you've backed off your foolish claim that the critics are non-Indians who care only about political correctness. Oh, well...better late than never. Maybe you'll think twice before you speak next time.

For more on the subject, see Irish Band Is Just Harmless Fun? and Most Racist Musical Group Ever?

Below:  Mojo's impression of Natives who dare to oppose racism and stereotyping.


Jaine said...

Good response Rob

Anonymous said...

Jane, maybe you ought to look at the REAL discussion rather than Rob's twisted viewpoint.


dmarks said...

That's not a real discussion. Info-Wars routinely presents hoaxes as if they were truth.

Jaine said...

anonymous - I did look at the page and I still think Rob made a good response.

I have been following this on a few sites and I agree with Rob's viewpoint (though not always his methods ^_~).

Anonymous said...

@ Jaine (sorry for the previous typo) Thanks for looking at the thread and your polite response!:o)

dmarks said...

There's a Native who commented on there that the band members would get maimed or killed if they went to Native reservations. I wonder if he was watching too many old Western movies or something.