Articles

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The American Tribe

When the Yankees play baseball in the Bronx and the Knicks hit the court at Madison Square Garden, the two teams may belong to different sports, but they're both part of an exchange of taunts and slurs that no one remembers or cares about anymore.

The Knicks are short for the Knickerbockers, one of the derogatory names that English New Yorkers called the Dutch New Yorkers whom they had seized the city from. And the Dutch returned the favor by calling the Anglo newcomers, John Cheese or Jan Kees, which eventually became Yankee.

The English mocked the Dutch and the Dutch mocked English and then both terms became part of the city's cultural heritage and even a point of pride. Yankee may still have a derogatory meaning in the South and in Europe, but in New York, it's on every other baseball cap and the Knicks are on every other jersey; including some of the shorts that resemble the Knickerbockers of the Dutch.

This sort of thing happens a lot in a multicultural society. What used to be a point of insult, blends into the common cultural heritage. The minority teenagers wearing Knicks shorts and Yankees caps care as little about the Dutch and English slurs that got the whole thing started as they do about the Redskins, a term that is as equally out of date and nearly as obscure.

It shouldn't be surprising that most American Indians care as little about the Redskins or the Braves as we care about the Yankees and the Knicks. It's the white liberals descended from the Knickerbockers and the John Cheeses who don't seem to grasp that a minority group might not be offended by the same things that they aren't offended by.

Multiculturalism doesn't look a whole lot like the awkward bureaucratic words they are expected to tote around all day. It does look a lot like people calling each other insulting names until those names become part of the cultural background noise. That might not be the liberal ideal, but it's how things work in the real world.

The great battle over the N Word only resulted in the widespread use of Black, which means the same thing in English. The use of African-American is still confined to formal settings. The same goes for Native-American or any other name with more letters than is good for it.

American history is full of insulting names and nicknames whose meanings changed until they became part of the national vocabulary. And like the Yankees and Knicks, it goes to show that our language is shaped by argument as much as by consensus and that sometimes the mutual insults that we exchange are part of the process of finding common ground and learning to live with one another.

That understanding would have been simple common sense to anyone who grew up in the old urban melting pots, but is thoroughly alien to a liberal elite raised in white suburban neighborhoods and exposed to minorities for the first time in Ivy League settings alongside critical race theory and bouts of angry activism. Instead of learning how people get along, they learn to be the white knights riding to the rescue of minorities who they assume always need their help because it makes them feel good..

No Americans Indians actually need their help when it comes to the Redskins. It's just become a toxic reflex of linguistic witchhunters who are always out to fight the demon of intolerance whenever they can find it. And if they can't find it, then they push and prod until they bring it into being so that they can defeat it and win admiring cheers from the crowd.

The firemen of tolerance are also the arsonists of intolerance. They start the fires and then put them out. The debate over the Redskins is a classic example of setting a fire and then declaring that they should be able to do whatever it takes to put it out. Even if it means changing the name of a team they don't like, in a sport they don't follow, so that their Wikipedia entry can forever list them as the man, woman or undersea creature who helped put right a historical injustice that didn't exist until they started on it.

We could go into the historical origins of the Redskins name, which is far less intolerant than Yankees or Knickerbockers, but it would mostly be a waste of time. The history doesn't really matter. Language exists in the present and in the present the Redskins are an iconic invocation of a mythical history in the same way that every other Indian sports team name is.

Liberals nurtured on Orientalism and worries about cultural appropriation are uncomfortable with that; but that's their problem. It's perfectly normal for the old wounds to become the bonds of a new society. It's part of the healing process. It's post-racial and post-everything in a good way.

When people embrace hurtful names and transform them into a common identity, when New Yorkers of all backgrounds began calling themselves Knickerbockers because they associated it with the history of the city and when they jubilantly proclaimed themselves Yankees and when Redskins fans wear feathers, those are good things because they say that these things are part of our common identity. They don't divide us. They unite us.

That was how the old multiculturalism worked. And it worked well. Even liberals remember growing up in a hopeful America that played by those rules where there was unfairness, but that unfairness was being ground down by common contact. That America is being strangled to death by the political correctness of a liberal elite that controls the mediums of national dialogue through its death grip on academia and the airwaves, but has no understanding of how people really live their lives.

The common American identity was based on the integration of the good and the bad, the loves and the hates, the resentments and the joys, it combines the high and low points of culture, it mixed together aspirations and slurs, baked it together into something strange and wonderful.

There is no American identity now in the public space. There are Americans, including those of all races who share a common identity, but they have been locked out by a coalition of angry white liberals and their minority allies who have hijacked the public space for a divisive fractured identity based on resentment and greed. Instead of finding common ground, they are always finding fault.

National unity has become outdated. Instead we are treated to a festival of resentments. Every identity is cut down and sharpened into a weapon. Identity politics is short on richness of culture and long on grudges. Not only is the national culture being torn down, but it's being replaced by phony micro-cultures whose only content is resentment over a thousand imagined slights. These cultural charades fill their gaps and lack of depth with more angry outcries and claims of oppression.

Liberal political correctness is obsessively consumed with the destruction of any common culture not mediated by their commissars. Their divisive efforts seem calculated to break down any areas where co-existence occurs because the great threat to their political power would come from the revelation that they are not the firemen of tolerance, they are the arsonists of intolerance, setting groups at each other and then stepping in to referee the results.

America doesn't need racial referees. It needs some breathing room and time for the force of history to do its work and grind down old grudges and resentments until they are as obscure as the origin of Yankees and Knickerbockers, both terms that have faded far enough to be subjects of academic dispute.

The Redskins don't need to change their name. Their liberal critics need to change their tactics and stop picking fights for their own political profit that they pretend are actually being fought for a minority group that never asked for their help.

If liberals really care about helping American Indians, they can start with problems like broken families, drug abuse, the adoption of Indian children and corruption within tribal society. But those are big problems with few easy solutions and nothing to them that will make liberalism's white knights feel good about themselves.

But let's not pretend that the Redskins debate is about helping American Indians. It's about the selfish egotism of the white knights whose Camelot was the corrupt Kennedy White House and whose round table is a Twitter hashtag where everyone denounces white privilege in unison while embodying it.

Meanwhile the Yankees and the Knickerbockers and the Redskins will go on playing as a reminder that old grudges die when we embrace the things that used to divide us and turn them from a Liberal fetish of resentments into a source of strength for the American Tribe.

44 comments:

American Genie said...

Methinks the "American Tribe" is getting the snot beat out of it, kemosabe.

American Genie said...

Methinks the "American Tribe" is getting the snot beat out of it, kemosabe.

Jay in DC said...

I'm trying to figure out how to drive web traffic towards you. You are on my VERY short list of incredibly knowledgeable, erudite, well-spoken, and eyes wide open authors. My heart breaks that your comments section is usually 20 posts long.

I am not even sure how I arrived here initially, but it was a link of a link. You are like most of the other people I read a word merchant of the highest magnitude. Your takedowns of the out of control left read me to much like poetry. Meaning you have all the moral justification, all the disgusting facts of the situation, and still manage to make it into a song for what's left of the sanity of Western Civilization.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I don't do much to promote myself. A lot of the time I have no idea how people end up here. Mostly it's people promoting me.

That said, I'm happy with the readers I have. And it's incredible that I have them considering that the site commonly features 1,500- 2,000 word articles on a near daily basis that aren't always all that easily digestible.

In a conservative blogsphere where most of the traffic goes to people who shout the loudest, it's nice to have a few thousand readers a day (hopefully) and even a dozen comments.

Anonymous said...

Only someone who has never been to "flyover country" would think that the average American was paying the slightest attention to any of this PC - BS. It may get a great deal of press in New Yack and Mordoor . But I will bet that less than 200 people in Kentucky , know or care.

Rich G said...

I suspect readers are somewhat reluctant to post comments because they don't feel they're in the same league. How could they be. I look forward to your blog everyday and share it with as many people as I can Especially well meaning liberals who could use a well articulated wake up call. If your stuff is hard to digest, then too bad. It should be mandatory reading, take a shot of orange juice with the castor oil if need be, but take it. its good for you.
This article resonates I've seen my kids elementary school name changed from the Steel Street Spitfires(1957) to the Stallions because war is bad, and the Central Redskins high school name changed to the Central Phoenix. I always felt uneasy about the name changes Now I know why Thanks

KGS said...

An excellent article Daniel, I agree with you take 99.9%. The only small point on which I disagree with you, is the repeated usage of 'multiculturalism' to define the ethnic collage of the many peoples who call themselves Americans. I prefer to call it a multi-ethnic society with one defining culture, an exclusive American one.

That said, if the NYT were a respectable (honest) paper, they would have hired you long ago for your writing and anlaytic skills, they are among the best, it's always a pleasure to read your material. Keep up the good work Daniel,

Anonymous said...

I too enjoy reading your blog. You are a bright star in a very dark night.

mindRider said...

In Holland at the moment we have a similar liberal stirred-up nonsense about the black assistants called Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) of Sinter Klaas (Santa Claus) Dutch style, a Catholic bishop who 1700 years ago apparently miraculously revived two kids murdered and salted by the Turks in the city of Myra. (The city where the saint died and from where his remains after a few hundred years where moved to Spain 900 years ago). Ever since the miracle he was considered the children's friend who on his birthday, December 5th, having come by boat from Spain a few weeks prior, to brings gift, distributing these via the chimneys on the roofs where he travels upon a white horse, to WELL BEHAVED children and who's assistants punish those that behaved badly, even threatening to take the latter to Spain in the bags in which they carried the gifts. The work of distributing is done by the black assistants. The gifts are usually accompanied by small notes written in rime and to be read by the recipient before the gift is opened. In the family circles the celebration takes place like often in the American version by students making an extra buck clad in rented bishop's clothes and accompanied quite often women assistants with black painted faces clad in Moorish clothe's, acting the Zwarte Piet part. For centuries this feast has been celebrated by all layers of the Dutch population and only recently the progressives are finding the blackness of the Peters racist and derogatory up to such an extent that it even reached the UN human-right section (the one with those countries that until 1960 actually traded in black slaves) who is going to look into this grave problem. I think the fact that a man dressed as a bishop acts as children friend could be more worrisome these days than the progressive left's trumped-up racism on All Jolson faced white women enjoying the good fun of a tradition.

MLR said...

Sultan for diversity czar!

American Genie said...

When people read your blog, Daniel, we have an uncontrollable urge to share it.

You do have a unique way of getting the point across without the shouting, and usually with far more accurate information than most blogs.

We appreciate you.

Blessings to you and yours. :) ♥

kirk said...

Daniel, I don't remember how i ended up at your site over a year ago, but i read your blog everyday and have only commented twice because there is hardly anything i could add to your brilliant essays. Thank you

roger in florida said...

Beautiful article Mr. Greenfield, thank you.
I believe that for most of the history of the US the majority of people had an "onward and upward" attitude that accepted our relative insignificance as individuals, we were most aware that to prosper we must fit with society and be in some way useful to our fellow citizens. There are exceptions of course, the great curse of slavery being one.
As we became wealthier as a society demands grew for society to fit us as individuals, I am thinking particularly of the 60s generation here. There should be no penalty for what amounted to destructive and anti-social behavior, this attitude spawned a massive industry of self absorption, narcissism, hyphenated Americanism, LBGT and various gender studies. once we studied what society found useful, now we study ourselves and express disappointment when society finds us worthless.
This is going to come crashing down though, no society can last for last for long with the attitudes so prevalent in the US today; we expect to consume without producing, spend without saving, borrow without repaying and enjoy leisure without working. This will not end well.

jw said...

wow. excellent post. nice counterpoint to krauthammer, with whom i usually agree.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-redskins-and-reason/2013/10/17/cbb11eee-374f-11e3-ae46-e4248e75c8ea_story.html

thank you

meema said...

The voice in the wilderness never speaks what the majority wants to hear, no matter how clarion or true. But as difficult and often lonely as it is to be the one who is willing to be rebuffed and/or ignored, the reward is nothing the world can ever understand. And so, the voice speaks anyway, for the sake of the few.

On behalf of the few, thank you, Daniel.

“It is impossible to make people understand their ignorance; for it requires knowledge to perceive it and therefore he that can perceive it hath it not.” ~ Jeremy Taylor

Anonymous said...

The sultan is read by many at freerepublic.com (under "latest posts"); his work is rated highly for concepts, rhetorical style, and insight !

Anonymous said...

Wise words, indeed!

Anonymous said...

It's common for me, after I finish reading Sultan Knish, to want his words chiseled in stone.

Anonymous said...

They start the fires and then put them out, in order to gain acclaim as heros. They want savior status so bad that they will manufacter the scenario that will produce it. A similar phenomenon: Münchausen syndrome by proxy?

Anonymous said...

I can't articulate any better what others have said about Daniel's brilliance.

I would disagree with the writer who said he should be hired by the NYT because that rag isn't worthy of such insight and brilliance, and isn't interested in the truth.

I grew up in the 50's in a city outside of Detroit which at that time was a city of great diversity and warmth. My neighbors and schoolmates were Arabic, Armenian, Jewish, black, Asian, and white. Fortunately, the liberal totalitarians didn't exist then, at least not in this city, which means we all got along quite nicely.

Elaine

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Thank you everyone. I don't know what to say. But I do appreciate comments, of any sort, because they let me know that someone read this.

An article with 2 comments tell me that no one is interested in the content

Anonymous said...

Glad that Daniel knows he is source of hope for everyone seeing mass lunacy in the form of government and media and feels alone. They want that.

I wonder if phrases like Teaturds, Teabaggers, etc...will one day be the names of sport teams. They will have the positive connotation of people who don't give up and fight as individuals in a common cause. In the end what team will want to call themselves the race hustlers.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

What I find amazing is that you write excellent articles almost everyday, you consistency is incredible. People write op-eds once a week that are good but you Daniel are at a different level

Doug Mayfield said...

'...liberal critics need to change their tactics and stop picking fights for their own political profit that they pretend are actually being fought for a minority group that never asked for their help.'

But they won't stop. Not ever. Because their goal is not helping people or settling disputes reasonably.

The Left hates and fears all freedom, but particularly freedom of speech. Obama and company routinely try to import restrictions on freedom of speech under the guise of UN resolutions, trade agreements, whatever lame excuse they can find to impair our ability to speak our minds.

Their real goal is eradication of freedom of speech, which they correctly view as an impediment to imposing their socialist tyranny on this country.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Greenfield,
I read your articles every day,if you miss a day I have to remind myself that you could be busy or have other commitments ,I send them to some liberal family
members but no reply, Anyway I love every one of em.
Your the best.Annie

Anonymous said...

better than all the crap you'll find in the sports section of the new york times

-- spanky

Anonymous said...

Enlightening as always. I will make it a point to comment after each of your articles I read from now on. Even if just a bravo or amen. Just please don't stop.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

thank you

Classical Lib said...

So, I read your post and like most of the post that I read here I am moved by it's clarity of purpose and prose. I share it on Facebook, as I have many friends and family members who are Redskin fans. They are having a rough season with the play of the team and this controversy. I wanted to come back and express some appreciation to Mr. Greenfield for his ability and I find that the comment section is a veritable love-feast.

That gave me one of those feelings that you get when you get something right and although you knew it all along it is the fact that many others were right with you. It gives you a good feeling and makes you feel a little better about the world as a whole!

Please keep up the good work!

mrs adela bradley said...

It was by way of the Jew-hating Lawrence Auster's recommendation I came here.

The arsonists of intolerance fiddle while Rome burns. In your other essay on the issue, you mention how black is the Redskin fan base. While the PC Prigs up-in-arms over a name are unfazed by the Indians,' or anybody else's, real problems, this particular assault aims to alienate black people from American history and culture. A lot of black folks not only root for the Redskins, but where I come from many also claim kinship, actual or symbolic, with the Indians. You can see a little of this in John Sayles' 1996 movie "Lone Star," where the Elder Otis Payne is fascinated by the history of blacks and Seminoles in Rio County Texas.

The PC bullies don't care any more about black Americans' real problems than they do the Indians'. A black lesbian filmmaker, originally from the Midwest but now living in the South, for example, chooses not to confront the devastation decades of welfare programs have wrought on the black family, or how gangs have risen in her native city to fill the void left by absent fathers, but the perceived homophobia of the traditional black church in the South. Rather than look at how the de-emphasis of tradition and convention has ravaged the black community, this affirmative action carpetbagger uses her platform to undermine what bulwarks against social dysfunction remain.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

She's also working within the viable marketplace. Her marketable skills is her "identity" and its use in challenging entrenched institutions that have non-liberal values.

Dealing with the damage of the welfare state or gangs would be tricky and a hard sell. Even if she did it, she would have to find a way to spin it so the real villains were corporations and/or Republicans.

Anonymous said...

<<<<<<<<<<<and I learnt something today,thanks.

mushroom said...

I read regularly and rarely comment because I don't want to distract anyone or get into arguments. I will at least say, Amen, in the future. Bob's references to you at One Cosmos directed me over here a while back.

Thank you, Daniel, for what you do so well.

Anonymous said...

I read your posts nearly everyday. I rarely ever comment. However, I will say that your God-given ability to succinctly provide clarity to current issues is without a doubt beyond measure. Thanks for all your insights. God Bless.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

glad you're around Mushroom and comments are never distracting

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a true story. A childhood friend of my father became the principal of Thurston high school in Springfield, Ore. in the 1960's. Their mascot name was the "Thurston Pansies". Can you imagine a more degrading team name? His first directive was to immediately change the name to the "Thurston Colts" .

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I appreciate that Annie

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I have to wonder how that name got started

Naresh Krishnamoorti said...

Had I known that you judge the level of interest in your blog posts by the number of comments they get, I would comment much more frequently. Sometimes your post is so perfect, that there's nothing left to say or do, but to post it on my Facebook timeline.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

I appreciate the shares too. But I tend to think that the articles that stimulate discussion are the worthwhile ones

Anonymous said...

Daniel, everything you write is worthwhile. Your blog is the first one I read every day. I share your insight with everyone. But you must realize that a lot of people just can't digest anything that is so thoughtful and deep, particularly the young people who were raised on 30 second soundbites and now can't get beyond 140 character Tweets.

Elaine

Anonymous said...

I would suggest to Krauthammer that perhaps HE should change his last name for fear of offending "German-Americans". Isn't "Kraut" a pejorative term?

Anonymous said...

That is not necessarily true. I find each day's piece to be interesting regardless of the topic. You choose your subject matter well. I rarely comment though. ~arasina~

mrs adela bradley said...

Her academic gig qualifies as work in an "entrenched institution." She's a professor and filmmaker about like Oblabla's a constitutional scholar. So, it would be a long time, as in most likely never, til she was starving if she took some risks.

Hard to say what's more infuriating, the mediocrity being churned out by these smug adolescents or the good that isn't because their sorry asses are occupying the chairs rightfully meant for their betters.

Post a Comment