- - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flush with success at drawing attention to themselves by condemning the name of the Washington Redskins as “racist,” the professional umbrage takers are expanding their crusade to the makers of household paint and military helicopters.

A New Jersey man, fired by Benjamin Moore Paints in March, is suing his former employer over the names of paint colors he says are racist. Clinton Tucker, who is black, claims he was sacked for complaining that the colors named Clinton Brown and Tucker Chocolate are racist. He says nobody at Benjamin Moore listened.

Charles Schalk, Mr. Tucker’s attorney, told the Daily Caller that the colors were named after his client. (But surely not “Confederate Red.”) The paint maker says Tucker Chocolate was named for St. George Tucker, an 18th-century law professor at the College of William & Mary chosen by James Madison to serve as a federal judge in Virginia. “Capturing the 1798 color requested by St. George Tucker for his home facing Courthouse Green,” the company’s website explains, “this deep brown is classic and understated.” The St. George Tucker House is one of the original Colonial houses in Historic Williamsburg. Our money is on the paint being named for the Colonial judge, not Mr. Tucker.

Benjamin Moore sold cans of Clinton Brown years before the aggrieved Mr. Tucker began working at the company. Yet why allow facts to get in the way of a good rant? This didn’t save Simon Waxman, managing editor of the Boston Review, from high dudgeon about the Pentagon’s custom of naming its helicopters for courageous American Indian tribes, which is how the Pentagon expects its combat helicopters to perform. In an op-ed essay in The Washington Post, Mr. Waxman took offense that the names Apache, Black Hawk, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa are given to helicopters.

Even if Dan Snyder were to change the team’s name, “a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians.” Asks Mr. Waxman, who seems obsessed with collective guilt and can’t decide who it properly belongs to: “Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished?” He then answers himself: “Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt.”

The military names aircraft carriers for presidents (USS Ronald Reagan), battleships for states (USS Iowa, and the USS Arizona on the bottom of Pearl Harbor) fast attack submarines after cities (USS Los Angeles) and destroyers after war heroes (USS John Paul Jones). Nancy Reagan commissioned the carrier bearing her husband’s name and thought it a great honor. Perhaps certain heirs and residents of certain cities and states have something to sue for.

Erasing the names of great Indian tribes from sports teams and helicopters in the sky might eventually destroy their memory. The greater injustice would be done to the Indians themselves. When the P.C. police paint the world a dull shade of nameless beige, the appropriate response will be a melancholy battle cry: “Hail to the Redskins.”