May 04, 2012

NAJA criticizes "disrespectful" Warren puns

The Elizabeth Warren case has encouraged the racists and stereotypers to come out of the woodwork and attack Indians again:

Gross Disrespect in Headlines

Native American Journalist Association Reacts

By Levi Rickert
NAJA is disappointed that coverage of US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's claimed Native heritage has resulted in a series of disrespectful headlines and puns that show disregard for Native Americans and our history.

A recent article posted by Michelle Malkin with the headline "Sacaja-whiner: Elizabeth Warren and the Oppression Olympics" paired partial references to multiple Native American names with ways to ridicule Ms. Warren's ancestry claims. Ms. Malkin wrote: "Call her 'Pinocchio-hontas,' 'Chief Full-of-Lies,' 'Running Joke' or 'Sacaja-whiner.'"

Ms. Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, has been forced to respond to reports that she listed herself as a minority professor in the past. She maintains that she's of Cherokee descent.

While allegations surrounding her claims are unsettling, making fun of Native names that have history, respect, and honor is worse. The names are being belittled by Ms. Malkin for a joke that many Americans had a laugh at.
Comment:  We've already seen two examples of this kind of "joking" in Megyn Kelly Mimics Stereotypical Indian and Warren Column Uses Native Stereotypes. There's a whiff of disrespect for Indians as well as Warren here. It's as if people are saying, "These primitive savages--Pocahontas, Sacagawea, Sitting Bull--died out centuries ago. How dare anyone bring them into a modern political debate?"

This is similar to the puns made about Obama's name--linking him to Kenya, Africa, the Middle East, and terrorists. It's equally racist and stereotypical. Whites don't get linked to Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin--unless they're presidents who invade other countries or curtail constitutional rights, perhaps. But minorities are presumed to be tied to their ancestors in another place or time.

It's a way of delegitimizing them--of saying they're less American than the rest of us. The comparison is never with Jim Thorpe or Will Rogers--i.e., someone who might be considered a modern Indian. It's all about placing them in the distant past where their issues and concerns are no longer relevant.

You can bet most or the people doing this "joking" are conservatives. Liberals are writing about Warren too, but their columns are respectful. They're addressing the issues, not calling people names.

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