Some Short Thoughts

  • Those who think or write that the Washington DC football team’s name “Redskins” needs to be changed are the modern equivalent of those in the 13th century buying indulgences. Sporting team names are pretty far down on the actual list of problems in the daily life of indigenous Americans, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, suicide and so on. Those are issues much higher. Seems to me if you actual cared one whit about the native American you’d be acting on real issues not pretend ones. (for extra credit, cite last time you heard the term redskin used as a derogatory racial epithet. If you, like me, never have … gosh perhaps it isn’t actually a derogatory racial epithet).
  • Continuing that theme, of modern indulgences. The Redskin thing is a racial/racism indulgence or guilt expiation.  It is interesting to note that those same people who are pretending at concern for Native Americans with the Redskin thing are the same ones punting for SSM … what sin is that indulgence paying for?
  • On the other side of the coin (those against SSM), just remember “Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am first.” Gays can’t destroy marriage as thoroughly as heterosexuals are doing right now.
  • One hard fast rule of Internet punditry to remember, there is always, yes always, someone smarter than you, better informed than you, and better in whatever way you can imagine who disagrees rationally and logically with that strongly held opinion of yours. So the next time you call someone an idiot or stupid because they hold an opinion (especially political or religious) different than you, remember that.
  • American politicians should play more Go than Chess. A paradigm intrinsic to Chess is forking, putting the opposition into a corner where he only has two bad choices. Go’s fundamental paradigm by contrast teaches you how to quickly recognize a losing position and moving elsewhere.

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14 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Sporting team names are pretty far down on the actual list of problems in the daily life of indigenous Americans, drug abuse, alcoholism, poverty, suicide and so on.

    Perhaps, so what? From what I understand Native Americans consider the term deragotory so in that case, IMO, it would be rude to continue using it. In the previous example, you cited ‘Fighting Irish’ as a potential problem name yet to my knowledge there is no serious sense among Irish or Irish-Americans that the moniker is offensive.

    You seem to think that this is something other than old fashioned politness. That this is about some act of ‘charity’ towards indigenous Americans which is the premise of your false choice… I’ll paraphrase it as “If you wanted to do something nice for Native Americans, wouldn’t fighting poverty be a more effective use of charitable resources than changing the name of a sports team.” Of course I’d agree with that, but I’m not trying to do something nice for Native Americans. I’m simply being respectful. Being polite or respectful is the min. requirement for civilized society. Being charitable is the extra credit portion.

    The Redskin thing is a racial/racism indulgence or guilt expiation

    I have no guilt that I feel needs expiated towards Native Americans. Never to my knowledge have I been unfair or unjust towards a Native American either individual or group. Most people who you probably want to apply this to would likewise have little or no reason to feel individually guilty.

    This meme is a bit like people who say whites voting for Obama is just about ‘white guilt’. Well since white Obama voters skew heavily young this would be equally as silly. Whites who should feel the most guilt are generally the olders ones are they not?

    Seems to me if you actual cared one whit about the native American you’d be acting on real issues not pretend ones.

    Ahh yes, the false choice fallacy once again. Or to phrase it another way, “if only liberals weren’t thinking about SSM, they could save all the hungry children of the world.” If you really think that why are you preventing the solution to world hunger and poverty amonst native Americans by standing in the way of liberals who just want to have SSM (which you now admit doesn’t harm marriage) and a different name for a football team? Isn’t curing all the ills of the world a pretty nice thing to do and those two little things seem like a rather minor price to pay for such a bounty?

    You might respond that conservatives have better solutions to those problems. Not likely. consider in the last 5+ years please cite how many posts you’ve devoted to the ‘real problems’ of native Americans? I think the answer will be pretty close to zero.

    ■One hard fast rule of Internet punditry to remember, there is always, yes always, someone smarter than you, better informed than you, …

    Which is why Internet pundits are wise to read their comments section. Happy, as always, to be of service 🙂

    ■American politicians should play more Go than Chess

    I remember hearing somewhere that masters of chess are generally not all that more talented in life in general. Bobby Fisher’s unhingedness late in life seems to have tainted the idea that chess is the route to being a master strategist in life….but then perhaps those just an ancedote that isn’t applicable to the population of chess players as a whole.

    Maybe what really matters (at least among teen boys) isn’t so much the hobby or pasttime but finding something that distracts them from destructive behavior for a good decade or so. Things like chess function by getting them to sit around causing no trouble until they grow out of their worst impulses. In that case xBox might be one of the greatest things ever to happen to child rearing in world history.

  2. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    First,

    From what I understand Native Americans consider the term deragotory so in that case, IMO, it would be rude to continue using it.

    Cite? … or why do you “understand” that? From what source.

    Second … the point you seem to miss is how far down this issue is likely on the Native American’s list of things which need fixing, given that poverty, drug abuse &c are so rampant.

    Third, “I have no guilt that I feel needs expiated towards Native Americans.” says a person from the party that supports reparations to American Blacks for slavery 150 years removed. Never to my knowledge have I been unfair or unjust toward any group, but the Left seems fairly certain I’m a racist. Now, if I thought they had a point, I might become over sensitive towards terms used as a form of indulgence/expiation. Hmmm. Wait.

    Whites who should feel the most guilt are generally the olders ones are they not?

    Says the guy who never heard the Churchill liberal/conservative quote.

    Not likely. consider in the last 5+ years please cite how many posts you’ve devoted to the ‘real problems’ of native Americans?

    I paid to have my daughter sent on a mission trip to a reservation in Montana. Just because I don’t celebrate the things I do for charity doesn’t mean I don’t.

  3. Boonton says:

    1. If you demonstrate that NA’s aren’t offended by the term then I’d have no problem with the team’s name. As for its rank on ‘things that need fixing’, who cares?

    2. “Third, “I have no guilt that I feel needs expiated towards Native Americans.” says a person from the party that supports reparations to American Blacks for slavery 150 years removed.”….. I missed that bill being passed and signed when Dems had both houses and the white house either under Clinton or Obama.

    3. “Says the guy who never heard the Churchill liberal/conservative quote.” Well when there were numerous Civil Rights marches who was on the other side? People who would be old today if they are still alive. Or are you saying some type of karma has caused higher death rates against whites who supported racism leaving only ones who supported civil rights today….sort of like in 1970 something like 75% of people said they voted for Kennedy in 1960 when Kennedy won by a tiny margin. My point remains, white guilt applies only to whites with something to feel guilty about. I’m sure there are a few young whites who are racists but no many these days.

    “I paid to have my daughter sent on a mission trip to a reservation in Montana.”

    You mean your daughter has done stuff to address ‘real problems’ for Native Americans then. why have you wasted your precious blog posts on SSM when you could be raising consciousness? BTw, it might be interesting to ask her what she thinks of the whole Redskins thing.

  4. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    why have you wasted your precious blog posts on SSM when you could be raising consciousness?

    Let’s see. In my post, I noted that those who “Those who think or write that the Washington DC football team’s name “Redskins” needs to be changed are the modern equivalent of those in the 13th century buying indulgences.” So … you write (where?) that this name should be changed?

    If you demonstrate that NA’s aren’t offended by the term then I’d have no problem with the team’s name.

    I’m sorry. You’re the one advocating change. You need to demonstrate this matters.

    As for its rank on ‘things that need fixing’, who cares?

    I see. You want paint the Titanic while its sinking because, who cares about prioritizing problems? Uhm, everybody should care about priority.

    Well when there were numerous Civil Rights marches who was on the other side?

    The Southern Democrats why? And I was in nappies (and K-6 at best) as were you.

    My point remains, white guilt applies only to whites with something to feel guilty about. I’m sure there are a few young whites who are racists but no many these days.

    Well, I guess you are in a lonely crowd. Seems like a consistent meme on the left is that Tea Party supporters are all racist.

    it might be interesting to ask her what she thinks of the whole Redskins thing.

    Ok. I will ask here if anyone mentioned it when she was there.

  5. Boonton says:

    I see. You want paint the Titanic while its sinking because, who cares about prioritizing problems? Uhm, everybody should care about priority.

    Problems prioritizing is an optimization problem which looks at not only how important a problem is but what would be required to solve it. If given a choice between changing the name of the Redskins and eliminating all drunkenness on reservations and lifting all out of poverty, I’d choose the second any day of the week. Changing a name, though, requires next to no energy and can be done overnight while those problems may not be solveable even with ten years of effort and several billion dollars.

    In other words, today you are faced with at least two problems. One is your own mortality. The other is what to eat for dinner. Clearly you’d probably seriously consider trading dinner tonight for immortality. But you don’t have that choice, so you do what you can on the immortality front (try to exercise a bit, get any mysterous moles that appear checked by your doc, avoid smoking, drinking etc.) and spend some time seriously thinking about a nice dinner.

    The Southern Democrats why? And I was in nappies (and K-6 at best) as were you.

    Ahhh yes, the ones who became Republicans. I agree, those that are still around should feel guilty. So how does that squre with your indulgence theory? The idea of an indulgence was forgiveness for a sin or trangression. Those who haven’t sinned have no need for such things. At least in the case of racism, I’m not inclined to feel the need to buy any indulgences in any form.

    BUT suppose I did. In that case I would be obligated to address whoever I wronged. If I cheated a black person ten years ago, say, I don’t make up for it by voting for Obama today.

    I think the name should be changed simply because it’s the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter that there might be more pressing wrongs in the world. So what? If your daughter saw someone drop a $5 bill you’d say she should return it. If she told you that whether or not she returns it won’t help all the people who are dying in Syria’s civil war, you’d say so what? And the fact that she should return the bill is not an ‘indulgence’ to make up for some past wrong she did. She should do the right thing whether she’s been the world’s nicest person up to now or the world’s worst.

    Seems like a consistent meme on the left is that Tea Party supporters are all racist.

    Weren’t you contending they were Democrats for the longest time? Regardless I’ll reply to actual positions and statements serious people make, not what imaginary liberals in your mind think or say.

    Ok. I will ask here if anyone mentioned it when she was there.

    I asked you to ask her what she thinks of it. No doubt she has an opinion herself and having spent some time with Native Americans might even have a thought or two about how they might perceive the issue.

  6. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    I offered that these were indulgences, and it seems that the left more than the right is trying to rectify something (what I don’t know) regarding race. Hence the need for indulgences, possibly.

    Nothing you’ve responded with indicates why this is an issue of interest.

    Weren’t you contending they were Democrats for the longest time?

    I started contending that they were not exclusively republican, and furthermore that their objections (wanting spending curtailed and smaller government) should be things that actual democrats (especially as they allege to trace their roots to classical ilberalism) should be on board with. I’ve also pointed out that the biggest objection is that Democrats have this notion (which is founded in fallacy) that they are a party of the “common man” and therefore populist (common) movements should be within their tent. Hence the allergic reaction that movement Dems have with the Tea Party.

    I think the name should be changed simply because it’s the right thing to do.

    Why?

    I asked you to ask her what she thinks of it.

    And I responded with what I thought was a more logical question if you think this an actual issue that actual American Indians feel strongly about (or even care one way or another).

    . Changing a name, though, requires next to no energy

    Actually it requires a substantial amount of reworking of physical signage, advertising rework, art work and so on. Oddly it costs you nothing. Which makes your support of the idea somewhat suspect, i.e., your pretense that it costs next to is kind of like the Democrat preference for spending other peoples money.

    I see you haven’t been able to cite any actual people who think this is objectionable. The Washington Post had an article about a political movement Democrat (who is also an American Indian) who is pushing this issue to get in the spotlight, further his career, and get famous. Is that who you listen to?

    Emily (a) doesn’t think the name is a big deal (b) doesn’t think anyone she had met there would care and (c) never heard anyone mention anything like that.

  7. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Oh, you’re a film buff. Did you see Smoke Signals? What do you think the characters portrayed in that film would say. How about “meh?”

  8. Boonton says:

    I offered that these were indulgences, and it seems that the left more than the right is trying to rectify something

    An indulgence rectifies, or attempts to rectify, a sin or trangression by an individual by the individual performing some good not directly connected to that original sin. For example, you cheated on your wife but you endowed a new wing of this wonderful Church with your riches.

    So here your analogy seems to falter. Certainly the left thinks avoiding the use of the term somehow rectifies something did wrong to Native Americans. I don’t think you can argue that the name change is being requested as part of some unrelated wrong…say the way the English treated Catholics under the Virgin Queen or something like that..

    It also breaks down because if it’s an offensive term to Native Americans, then it’s use being wrong is irrelevant to any other wrongs or problems Native Americans may have. In other words, it’s wrong for your daughter not to return the $5 the woman drops in front of her. Even if that woman has deadly cancer and your daughter is the world’s greatest oncologist….it’s wonderful if she cures the woman of cancer but that has nothing to do with her alerting her to the dropped $5 bill. Whatever ills Native Americans have, whether inflected wrongly upon them or simply ills they have, that doesn’t make it right to use the term.

    Now you present a false choice. Either we change the name or we, say, cure poverty among Native Americans. If really presented with this choice, I’d say curing poverty ethically trumps the name change. Likewise if the only way your daughter will cure cancer is to indulge in petty theft, I’d say allow her to indulge in petty theft. You hint this with:

    Actually it requires a substantial amount of reworking of physical signage, advertising rework, art work and so on.

    Is all this work and money about to be spent on curing poverty but is now being locked away to fund the mechanics of name changing?

    The Washington Post had an article about a political movement Democrat (who is also an American Indian) who is pushing this issue to get in the spotlight, further his career, and get famous. Is that who you listen to?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Redskins_name_controversy indicates that many Native Americans do seem to consider it offensive and, oddly, a sizeable portion of the general public who support the name nonetheless think Native Americans have a right to take offense at the name (which is odd since I doubt 59% of the public would say it’s ok to purposefully offend Native Americans simply for the sake of offending them, but public opinion has never been consistent or stable). I recognize that I could be wrong and if you convince me that Native Americans do not generally find the term offensive then I’d say keep it.

    I’ve also pointed out that the biggest objection is that Democrats have this notion (which is founded in fallacy) that they are a party of the “common man” and therefore populist (common) movements should be within their tent.

    I’m unclear what you mean by populist. Do you mean popular? Consistently scoring supermajorities of voters rejecting the Tea Party would seem to put that assertion into serious question no? Am I just supposed to accept your word that the Tea Party represents the ‘common man’ and is a populist party?

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    An indulgence rectifies, or attempts to rectify, a sin or transgression by an individual by the individual performing some good not directly connected to that original sin.

    That’s right. Which is what I suspect. That the furor behind this is because of guilt or as expiation for something else.

    Certainly the left thinks avoiding the use of the term somehow rectifies something did wrong to Native Americans.

    This is the premise I doubt.

    It also breaks down because if it’s an offensive term to Native Americans

    Which I also doubt.

    Either we change the name or we, say, cure poverty among Native Americans

    No. My choice is about not doing irrelevant things.

    Is all this work and money about to be spent on curing poverty but is now being locked away to fund the mechanics of name changing?No. The point was to counter your pretense that this change is inexpensive. It is, indeed, inexpensive for you. That however does not make it inexpensive for everyone. A Chicago eatery was offering a “Holy Ghost Burger” with unconsecrated communion wafers as part of the burger. Is that less or more offensive … let us allow for argument that it is more? Why is Mr Obama and the left not leading the charge to “change that name”. Hmm?

    I’m unclear what you mean by populist

    From wiki “Populism is a political doctrine where one sides with “the people” against “the elites”.” Good enough definition. My assertion is two fold, (a) the Tea Party is a populist movement and (b) Democrats feel that their role is to defined the lower classes from the elites and populist movements outside their ranks is something they find hard to swallow.

  10. Mark says:

    Booonton,
    Indulgence of course has the other part of the meaning. Indulgences were purchased to atone for sins by acts not directly connected to the sin. They were also attacked by the Reformation for being an ineffectual and largely irrelevant attempt to atone for said sins. My use of the term was intentional. If you think you are atoning for past sins w.r.t. the American natives … this is ineffectual and irrelevant. They have serious problems. The name of the DC football team is not one those problems.

  11. Boonton says:

    A Chicago eatery was offering a “Holy Ghost Burger” with unconsecrated communion wafers as part of the burger. Is that less or more offensive

    Beats me, I suppose Catholics might be ok with it since the wafers are unconsecrated (to get very upset might end up minimizing consecration) so may view the whole thing as affectionate….or they might view it as offensive. If offensive I’d advise the owner to ditch the burger name.

    Why is Mr Obama and the left not leading the charge to “change that name”.

    Well since he isn’t leading the charge for the Redskins name change I’m not clear why he would lead the charge for the name of a single burger.

    From wiki “Populism is a political doctrine where one sides with “the people” against “the elites”.” Good enough definition. My assertion is two fold, (a) the Tea Party is a populist movement and (b) Democrats feel that their role is to defined the lower classes from the elites and populist movements outside their ranks is something they find hard to swallow.

    So what political party or movement in the US self-identifies itself as siding with ‘the elites’ versus ‘the people’? Ages ago there used to be a Federalist Party which you might say fit that bill (possibly the Whig party too). I suppose William F Buckley Conservatism was somewhat elitist but these days I don’t think you can identify a single political party or movement that is elitist.

    So since that’s the case I can turn your question on you, why isn’ the Tea Party supporting the Democratic Party?

  12. Boonton says:

    If you think you are atoning for past sins w.r.t. the American natives … this is ineffectual and irrelevant. They have serious problems.

    This wouldn’t be an indulgence then. Remember an indulgence is not directly connected to the underlying wrong.

    Say you cheat on your wife, you buy her flowers. Buying her flowers may be ineffectual compared to the affair, but it’s not an indulgence since it’s an attempt to directly offset the wrong done to a party.

    An indulgence would have to be disconnected from the wronged party. Hence you cheat on your wife and you make a huge donation to an orphange. A classic example may be the mafia boss who makes huge donations to his church and puts his names on various charity projects. That would be an attempt at an indulgence. The mafia boss who gives money to the widow of a man he wrongly killed would not be an indulgence.

    whether an indulgence is effective or not is not really relevant. I could see how an indulgence could be effective. For example, your daughter shoplifts a candy bar, you make her spend a weekend manning a soup kitchen. In that case the ‘indulgence’ is probably more than the ‘sin’ and it’s an indulgence since the shop keeper is probably not being feed by the soup kitchen. But it’s easy to see why the Reformation attacked indulgences since the clerical authorities had an incentive to set the ‘price’ for sins very low since they had a material benefit to ‘sell forgiveness cheap’.

    In this case you can’t call changing the name an indulgence if you think they underlying wrong has anything to do with Native Americans. You can say the name change is trivial compared to the many wrongs done Native Americans. Fine, but like giving your wife flowers after an affair harms your marriage that wouldn’t be an indulegence….just a small acknowledgement of a wrong.

    To establish this as an indulgence you’d have to show that advocates for changing the name (and I’m unclear why you think they are all Democrats or that Democrats are all supportive of a name change) are trying to atone for some non-Native American related sin (bashing Wall Street types too much? for example.)

  13. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    This wouldn’t be an indulgence then. Remember an indulgence is not directly connected to the underlying wrong.

    I see. Calling a football team the Redskins is connected to “past wrongs”. You can explain how, say, the trail of tears is connected to football. I’m all ears on that one. Or you could explain how this is actually connectd.

    To establish this as an indulgence you’d have to show that advocates for changing the name

    Because by and large I don’t think (Mr Obama for example, who has actually remarked on this, gives a rats arse about the American Indian plight or feels any guilt at all over the Trail/Tears. So why does he feel this is an issue? As I said, I think it is important because of matters entirely unrelated to the American natives. What issue? I don’t … that’s why I was asking.

  14. Boonton says:

    I see. Calling a football team the Redskins is connected to “past wrongs”. You can explain how, say, the trail of tears is connected to football. I’m all ears on that one…

    And what would your burger example be connected too? Making up for injustices to Burmese Buddhist monks?

    Clearly the question is whether the name is a wrong to Native Americans and whether it’s an indulgence to past sins against Native Americans or simply a desire to not be offensive to Native Americans.

    Is football connected to Native Americans? No. Is the term ‘Redskin’ connected? Of course. Did you think the controversy wasn’t about Native Americans? How did you know? Did someone have to tell you it wasn’t about animal rights, or Syrian rebels or Japanese whaling?