Following up on yesterday’s post, I sent Facebook messages to Ian Campeau and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and asked them if they’d care to explain exactly what it is that they offensive about a bunch of kids calling themselves the Redskins and playing football. . I’ve heard nothing back from either of them.
I did tell both parties that I would not be surprised to hear nothing back from them, not because they’re chicken, but because I’m just a stupid blogger (there you go, folks, bookmark this one for future use against me!) and mine is a blog that no one is yet reading. There’s really nothing in it for them, so why would they bother with an asshole like me?
A quick cursory perusal the Media Magnet section of this site will prove that I’m a lunatic with a long history lunacy (yes, I know cursory perusal is oxymoronic)., so, yeah, why bother with me, especially when you’ve won the day?
Campeau and the AFN will be aware fo the fact that there position is vulnerable if one chooses to frame the argument as a case of BIG Indians picking on a bunch of little kids – actually, I don’t kno anything about Campeau, so he may not be aware of that, but the AFN sure as hell an’t no PR dummies). And I am not going to accuse the complainants of picking on little kids, because to do so would be unfair.
However, Campeau and the AFN did pick a fight with the people who run the Redskins for the benefit of the little grid -ironers. The Globe and Mail piece about the folding of the Redskins pointed out that a large legal firm was acting, pro bono, on behalf of Campeau. What do you wanna bet that that unnamed law firm does a fair bit of business with the AFN?
The Globe piece also says that Campeau has raised this issue in the past, apparently to no avail. So, he goes to the AFN and the AFN says, “What the fuck? we can crush these little Redskins. Let’s do it.”
It’s a simple case of might makes right. Who’s playing the white man’s game now? Okay, that’s a cheap shot but it’s true, even if it is cheap. The fact is that the AFN plays the white man’s game all the time because might makes right is the global game. Indians who gripe about the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves et al. using indian names don’t have the resources to take those teams into courts of law. They’d get crushed, if they did. Crushed, not necessarily by decisions from those courts, but, rather, crushed by an opponent that can use it’s vastly superior financial position to tie them up in litigation that bleeds precious money that should be used for bigger and more important battles.
Also, given the enormous fan bases of professional sports teams, and the fact that most people are ignorant to the plight of North American Indians, they’d get little in the way of public support for such a missions, even if Johnny Depp was to bankroll them.
So, Campeau, and more importantly the AFN, decided to pick on the little Redskins. And they crushed the kids. Thus, they have a victory and a precedent. That precedent, however, did not come in the form of a decision by a body of administrative law.
The Redskins caved and that deprived the complainants of an important precedent setting victory that could be parlayed into future legal victories… if they did, indeed, win the case and the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal had the power to order the Redskins to change their name.
Campeau and the AFN, and their big pro bono legal team, rolled the dice, betting that they would be ale to crush a small football organization lacking the resources to fight the battle. They had nothing to lose, for, if they lost, they’d denounce the decision as another example of white man;s justice and move on.
But, let’s get back to my main point, which is that sports teams do not name themselves after indians in order to denigrate aboriginal peoples. New Zealand’s World Champion All Blacks rugby perform the traditional Haka before every game
The Haka is a ritual of New Zealand’s Maori people. There is no more awesome ritual in all of sports and the All Blacks do not perform it to make fun of, or in any way mock or belittle the Maori. It’s a tribute to the courage of the Maori, who, like aboriginals peoples the world over, were slaughtered and subjugated by conquering whitey. No disrespect is intended. Quite the contrary.
As promised in my first post on this issue, I emailed the Globe and Mail’s reporter, Josh Wingrove and asked him if he’d not bothered to askCampeau and the AFN what, exactly, is so offensive about a bunch of kids caling themselves the Redskins and playing football. I was amazed that Wingrove got back to me within five minutes and give him full marks for taking the time to reply to a pissant blogger. Wingrove told me that the Globe had previously reported that Canpeau and the AFN said that the term redskins is a racial slur. Call me an ignoid, but that was news to me.
I grew up in a housing project, in Thunder Bay, in the 70s. The project was a multi cultural wasteland of broken dreams and bitter reality. There were plenty of Indians in the project. If and when one of us non-aboriginals wanted to demean an indian kid, we would not call them a redskin. We would call them a wagon-burner, chug, or any one of a dozen more derogatory terms, all of which are no longer at the tip of my tongue. A redskin? Like, the Washington Redskins? No fucking way.
The Washington Redskins went to the Super Bowl in 1973, where they lost to the only team in NFL history to run the tables with a perfect season, the 17 – 0 Miami Dolphins. The ‘skins got to the Super Bowl that year mainly on the back of their running back Larry Brown.
Brown went t the Pro Bowl from 1969 – 1972. He was the league MVP in 72. He was a monster. Calling one of the indian kids a redskin in order to denigrate him was absurd. The Redskins were idolized, even by those of us who were fans of the closer-to-home Minnesota Vikings.
One of the indian kids in the project was a guy named Vernon The Angry Bear Linklater. Vernon was a BFI (BIG FUCKING INDIAN). He went on to become the Canadian amateur super-heavyweight boxing Champion. Ain’t none of us, with the possible exception of his siblings, were in the habit of calling Vernon a wagon-burner or anything else. Which is neither here, nor there, in the context of this argument. I only bring up his name to say that if Angry Bear were to tell me to shut the fuck up and support Campeau and the AFN, I’d do so, because I can still see him, in my mind’s eye, knocking the shit out of all of us while playing football – I learned might makes right the hard way, back in the projects.
Here, if you’re interested, is Angry Bear going mano-a-mano with none other than Lennox Lewis in 1983:
Unless Angry Bear tells me, with a big smile and a fifty pound clenched fist, to shut the fuck up, I’ll pick up on this story after I’ve done some wordwhoring to pay a few bills.
Actually, if i can get Lennox Lewis to be on my side, I’ll carry on even if Angry Bear objects.