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"Indian Head" Nickles

Posted 01-18-2013 at 03:05 PM by RestlessN8iv
As a truly cynical being, the moments in which I am truly baffled by the sheer idiocy of my fellow humans are somewhat few and far between. With that in mind, my hat goes off to author, and journalist, Thom Nickels.

A few days ago Nickels released a column via the Huffington Post in which he basically defended the racially insensitive (at best) sketch put on during Philadelphia’s annual Mummers parade. During the sketch white paraders participated in which Mr. Nickels himself described as “a few drunken white men danced in a circle wearing makeshift American Indian headdresses.” link

In the column titled “Thou Shalt Not Wear a Native American Headdress” Nickels makes his objection to the “outrage” very clear with all the grace and tact of a cross burning.

He accuses “the ‘politically correct’ crowd” of being “on the warpath” over the Mummers sketch. The comment was a display of casual racism worthy of a dementia ridden grandfather who panics a little every time a brown or black person gets within 100 paces of his house…”because they want our women”. The worst part is, he is just getting started:

“An important thing to remember” Nickels wrote “when viewing the comic brigades is Jonathan Swift's famous line: ‘Nothing is above satire.’ This may be hard to swallow in our super hypersensitive age when good comedy sometimes takes a back seat to (yawn) sanitized political correctness. Unfortunately, we live in an era when people become ‘outraged’ at the drop of a hat and at all the wrong things.”

I understand, Mr. Nickels. Things must be no fun for you now that we inferior races got up the audacity to demand that we be treated with some degree of dignity, or at the very least be regarded as human beings and not silly caricatures that exist solely for your amusement.

Mr. Nickels continues,

“Consider this: where was the outrage when President Obama signed the NDAA into law, which gives the government the right to arrest any American citizen and deprive them of legal representation after that arrest? Isn't this what they do in Red China, and what used to happen in Soviet Russia? Instead, people are ‘outraged’ because a few drunken white men danced in a circle wearing makeshift American Indian headdresses.”

Mr. Nickels, If you feel so strongly about the NDAA perhaps your efforts would be put to better use condemning that injustice than trying to defend another. You know, since you can apparently believe people can be outraged about one and only one thing at a time.

Mr. Nickels continues by reminiscing about his own games of cowboys and Indians as a youth:

“Let's back up a little.

Wearing Native American headdresses used to be a rite of passage for most American boys. My childhood Boy Scout troop, for instance, had many halo and straight-up Native war bonnets that we wore during Scout Jamborees in Maryland along the Mason-Dixon line. Dressed up, we built campfires, put on war paint, and hunted one another down in a great Native American fantasy that usually ended in a great bonfire and a circle dance. (Today, a bonfire would be outlawed as ‘dangerous’ and war paint as ‘unacceptable.’) Such ceremonies taught us to be respectful and to honor the American Indian. These rituals were the high point of camp life, so much so that for the longest time I wanted to be an American Indian. Pretending I was American Indian was such an intense childhood obsession I'd take my bow and arrow, spear and halo war bonnet and lead charges against my faux cowboy or Calvary friends on the steep hills behind my house in Chester County. I didn't care that I was the only kid playing the part of an Indian because I saw the American Indian as a scared underdog in an unjust war with the land-stealing Calvary

The girls in my Chester County country neighborhood would often don a headband with one feather sticking straight up in the back. They played Native squaws. In those days, nobody thought that outdoor theater like this was disrespecting Native culture. If anything, the opposite feeling was usually present: by our dressing up as American Indians, we felt we were honoring our true American ancestors in a special way.”

First of all, Mr. Nickels you may want to do a little research on the word “squaw”. I also find it very interesting that you would refer to the Boy Scouts of America, as it is an organization to which you, being an openly gay man would not be allowed to join today. This is the organization you invoke? This is the shimmering and bright example of what you think America should be? Furthermore is it any wonder that in your youth, (a time when the word “colored” still flew) it was completely okay to degrade the multitude of cultures that made up indigenous America and trivialize it into a game or the kids? After all, you’ve got to be carefully taught to hate, and fear.

Being an American Indian I see no “honor” in what you and your scout troop did. If Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery you and your troop as well as the individuals in the Mummers sketch could at least have made some attempt to imitate American Indians accurately. In your dances around the bonfire did you learn any traditional Indian dances, and what they represented, or did you whoop around like idiots? Did you learn the history of the war bonnet and what it represents to the Indian people? Did you wear war paint with an understanding of what each color, pattern, or design represented? Did you ever stop to think that it wasn’t just land that was taken from Indians, but also our identity our culture, and our traditions which were not only whipped out of us in the days of “kill the Indian save the man” schooling, but perverted, and demeaned by people like you who wanted to be an Indian despite having no clue about Indian culture.
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muskrat_skull's Avatar
Eek, this reeks. Thanks for bringing this up. This is so wrong on so many levels. I don't care for his language either, I have a real problem with it. I don't even like saying the word squaw, because of the bad association it has for me personally. My skin is crawling, not so much about what was done as about his handling of it and his attitude in general.

You always have such good posts. I hope you keep writing!
Posted 04-11-2013 at 04:25 PM by muskrat_skull muskrat_skull is offline
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