By Dawn Turner Trice
"I'm really disgusted with him," said Power, a longtime activist and member of the Dakota nation. "He's an intelligent man and I know he's probably kicking himself all over his office for saying it, but he should know better. It would hurt if he were white, but it hurts more because he's black. How can you be so stupid?"
She said that "injun" is one of two words--the other is "squaw"--that should never be used because they are throwbacks to a time when Native Americans were defined almost exclusively by negative stereotypes.
"Are we so unimportant that he couldn't have caught himself?" she said. "I would never use the N-word. I know not to. This man must know nothing about native people, that's what's so hard about this. Native Americans know everything about everybody else, but there's so little interest in knowing who we are."
From what I've seen, most Indians would say "redskin" is worst, "squaw" is second worst, and "injun" is a distant third. By describing "injun" in mild terms, most dictionaries would agree.
Given that Steele didn't direct his comment at Indians or refer to actual Indians, I'd say his offense wasn't serious. If it were me, I wouldn't spend a lot of time pressuring him to apologize.
If you're not familiar with Michael Steele, here's more on him:
Michael Steele: Should He Go Now...or Later?
By David Corn
The Republican consultant I was talking with paused. In anger. In frustration. In exasperation.
"Fool?" I asked. "Buffoon?"
"You name it," he said.