January 14, 2011

Apology for "ugly" prayer remarks

A response to the item posted in Conservatives Attack "Ugly" Native Prayer:

Law firm apologizes for 'inappropriate' post on Yaqui man's prayer"I sincerely apologize to my readers, to the Yaqui tribe, to all tribal leaders and Indian people, and, specifically, to Carlos Gonzales who delivered the prayer," Meringoff wrote yesterday afternoon. "I regret my poor choice of words, and I have removed the post."

Powerilne is a personal blog but Meringoff's employer and colleagues weren't pleased with the situation. James Meggesto, a member of the Onondaga Nation who runs the firm's Indian law and policy practice, said he was "shocked, appalled and embarrassed" by the comments.

"As soon as I and the firm became aware of this posting, the firm took immediate action to deal firmly with this unfortunate situation," Meggesto said.

"We sincerely apologize for the blog entry posted by Akin Gump partner Paul Mirengoff on his personal blog, powerlineblog.com. Akin Gump is neither affiliated with, nor a supporter of, the blog," Bruce McLean, the chairman of the firm, said in response. "We found his remarks to be insensitive and wholly inconsistent with Akin Gump’s values. Mr. Mirengoff regrets his poor choice of words and agreed to remove his post.”
Comment:  It's one thing to criticize a religion or its tenets if you're debating a religious subject. For instance, the Mormon belief that American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel. It's another thing to gratuitously insult a religion for no particular reason.

I don't have a lot of use for religions, but I don't go out of my way to criticize their beliefs and practices. Calling a prayer "ugly" is a subjective value judgment that has no relevance to an intellectual debate.

As the article notes:Akin Gump is one of Washington, D.C.'s largest law and lobbying firms. Its 2010 clients included the Gila River Indian Community of Arizona and the Seneca Nation of New York.Can you imagine if you're an Indian client and you get Paul Meringoff assigned to your case? "Uh, could we have someone who doesn't think our culture and religion are primitive and 'ugly' compared to the white man's Christianity? Thanks."

This is a good example of the statement that words have consequences. Meringoff was free to post what he wanted...and his employers were free to react the way they wanted. They obviously thought his rant would strike their Indian clients as anti-Indian. So they "coaxed" him to take it down.

For more Christian vs. Native religious conflicts, see Christian Crees Tear Down Sweat Lodge and Catholics to Ban Indian Practices?

1 comment:

Mike said...

‎"Your religious calling was written on plates of stone by the flaming finger of an angry God. Our religion was established by the traditions of our ancestors. The dreams of our elders that are given to them in the silent hours of the night by the Great Spirit and the premonitions of the Learned Beings. It is written in the hearts of our people, thus we do not require churches, which would only lead us to argue about God, we do not wish this. Earthly things may be argued about with men, but we must never argue over God. Our belief is that the Great Spirit has created all things...for us all life is holy.
But you do not understand our prayers when we address the Sun, Moon, and Winds. You have judged us without understanding only because our prayers are different. But, yet we are able to live in harmony with all of Nature. All of Nature is within us and we are all part of Nature." -White Cloud- LakotaSee More