A story is gathering legs in Indian country in the wake of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. As my resent post stated I am not overjoyed with his death but he was a truly evil man. He needed to die and a small group of brave men were given a hard task and they completed their mission perfectly. Osama wanted the mass murder of anyone who did not bow to his radical religious beliefs. He was not trying to protect anyone or anything, his aim was to destroy and subjugate as many people as he could. He ordered mass murder of innocent people half way around the world in an effort to accomplish his goals.
The Pentagon and the Obama administration gave that evil man a code name. That code name was Geronimo. The mission started with a transmission from the SEAL team “We’ve ID’d Geronimo.” The mission ended with “Geronimo-E KIA” Within hours the Administration released a statement saying that Geronimo was not the code name for Osama but the name of the Operation to capture or kill him.
The CNN White House blog featured a historic black and white photo of Geronimo and the headline, “Osama bin Laden codename “Geronimo”, for the duration of the afternoon at whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com. There is currently a post with the title “Osama bin Laden mission codename ‘Geronimo” (emphasis added) with a timestamp of 4:46 PM, though some commenters express outrage over the earlier title.
Indian country is understandably pissed off.
How could something like this happen today with an administration that is so careful to not offend other cultures and groups and yet does not seem to understand that labeling an vial mass murder with the name of a respected native leader would be seen as offensive. The obviously understand now with them trying to spin the story and currently directing any questions regarding the issue to the Pentagon. The Pentagon is silent on the issue.
I know that some of my readers now are rolling their eyes and muttering. “What is the big deal? you have bigger problems to deal with than this”. I have seen comments on other blog posts and stories of people trying to say that the name was somehow an “Honor”.
I ask the question again. How could this happen. I know why and most will not like the answer.
We are trained from children to disrespect Native Americans. It is perfectly ok to play cowboys and Indians on the school yard. Going out in face paint and feathers on Halloween or to cheer on your sports team is acceptable, dressing up in paper feathers and face paint is encouraged every Thanksgiving at school. If children played master and slave on the school yard there would be an outcry. If a child went out on Halloween in black face that would not be acceptable, there are no sports teams that “honor” other ethnicities. No one plays at being a black slave or a freedom marcher on Martin Luther King Day. It would be seen as inappropriate and I agree. Sauce for the goose, tastes good on Native Americans, but not with any other culture in this Nation, why not? Why is it ok for us but not for anyone else?
On the surface this seems to be a small thing, but it is not. It is a symptom of the continuous abuse and neglect of Native people by the United States government and the Non-Native population. Appropriation, dismissal, and outright disrespect that would never be tolerated against any other culture is expected, cultivated, and cherished as an honored American tradition.
Yea there are bigger problems in Indian country. Poverty, health, abuse, addiction, violence, suicide…. All these things are created by a broken people. These conditions results from generations of physical and cultural destruction, neglect, and abuse. We are trying to heal but repairing generations of damage is not an easy thing to do. Incidents like the above only makes it that much harder.
The Obama administration and the Department of Defense know they screwed up, so much so that they are refusing to comment on it. They have the balls to go out and kill a mass murderer and psychopath but cannot even bring themselves to own up to a simple but damaging mistake?
What does it all mean to me? What does it tell me?
We do not matter.
When our great and strong historical leaders are equated with terrorists and psychopaths no wonder we are poor, sick, abusive, addicted and suicidal.
I promise to bring something more lighthearted and fun in a couple days… pinky promise even.