November 05, 2011

Andy Rooney dies

Andy Rooney, Who Once Sparked Controversy in Indian Country, Dies at 92Andy Rooney, resident curmudgeon from iconic CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes, has died at age 92. Rooney once caused a stir among American Indians when he suggested that Native Americans who made money from casinos weren’t doing enough to help their own people. (’s Rooney obituary reminds us of this fact.)

But perhaps more galling was this passage from a 1992 column written by Rooney in which he addressed the controversial nickname of the NFL’s Washington Redskins:

“The real problem is, we took the country away from the Indians, they want it back and we’re not going to give it to them. We feel guilty and we’ll do what we can for them within reason, but they can’t have their country back. Next question.”
Comment:  To me, the next line in Rooney's commentary is the worst one:While American Indians have a grand past, the impact of their culture on the world has been slight. There are no great Indian novels, no poetry. There's no memorable Indian music. Their totem poles do not rank with the statuary of Greece and there's no Indian art, except for some good craft work in wool, pottery and silver. Their genius was for living free in a wild state...without damaging the ozone layer.You can read responses to this stupidity in Andy Rooney's Commentary on Indians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The casino part is hilarious. Do we expect white businesses to "give back"? No. In fact, it's illegal for a corporation to give to charity unless it makes a huge deal out of it for political gain, as to do so would not maximize profit.

But the other issue is, the statuary of Greece versus totem poles. Surprising, considering most people base their stereotypes on plains Indians. A traditional Sundance effigy is naked, but otherwise not very Greek, being fertility figurines and all.

More objectively, traditional Lakota medicine was that diseases were caused by tiny animals. Such a concept was new in the 19th century, and it's important to remember that Western medicine looked nothing like modern medicine (a.k.a., medicine that works) until Rudolf Virchow's time.