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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Wednesday, June 26, 2002
8:21 PM

Curiouser and curiouser...The Bush Administration, that is. And Democrats, and a Palm Springs newspaper.

Here's a Washington Times story by Matthew Cella on the Administration opening an investigation into whether the use of Indian names at a 4-H camp in West Virginia violates anybody's civil rights:

The Bush administration has begun a civil rights investigation into the use of American Indian symbols and tribal names in West Virginia's 4-H Club chapter. The Agriculture Department began investigating yesterday a complaint it received last year from a West Virginia parent whose daughter had attended a 4-H summer camp in 2000. The results of the unprecedented investigation will be forwarded to the Justice Department, which could end federal funding for the state's 4-H program.

The Agriculture Department investigates discrimination complaints. Who knew.

Also, the family that filed the complaint is white.

I'm feeling dizzy.

That was yesterday. Now this one today is about reaction from a variety of sources from an Arizona Republican congressman to John McCain to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle saying heck, doesn't bother us:

"I would think they would have a sense of pride that 4-H is using tribal names and stuff as a means of recognizing Native Americans' close adherence to nature, their support of our environment," Mr. [Sen. Tom] Harkin [D] said. "It seems to me that's a sense of pride for Native Americans. If it's done in the spirit of recognition of our heritage and of the contributions made by Native Americans, who could object to that?"

Cognitive-Dissonance-O-Meter: rapidly flashing.

Reporter Dave Boyer continues:

Kate Burbank, who leads the 4-H chapter in Roane County, said she welcomes the investigation. "If we've been doing things wrong or in violation, then we want to know about it," she said. Mrs. Burbank, 55, has been a 4-H leader for 33 years in the county and was a member for nine years when she was a girl. "We don't feel like we're doing anything too wrong," she said. "We've had Native Americans in our program, and they were fine with it."

My impression on the banning of Indian names is that it's largely a left-wing cause, just another arrow in the quiver of what David Horowitz calls the Hate America Left. One exception for me: The Washington Redskins. That's too much for the sensibilities of my Eastern ears. But in general I don't see any more of a problem with, say, the Atlanta Braves than I do with the Boston Celtics.

Neither do most American Indians, according to the Sports Illustrated poll some of you may recall from the spring. I can't find the SI poll, but there are references to it all over the place, including this Concord Monitor piece and John Miller in NRO. He says:

Here's the most important finding: "Asked if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames, 81 percent of Native American respondents said no. As for pro sports, 83 percent of Native American respondents said teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters, and symbols."

Be careful not to read those bar charts upside down, by the way. Here's an editorial in something called The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, Calif., against the use of Indian mascots, that gets the poll exactly wrong:

According to the March issue of Sports Illustrated, 83 percent of Indians nationally want professional sports teams to stop using Indian names. How many times and in how many ways to they need to deliver that message?

Judging from the actual results of the poll, a lot more times.

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