Some Americans truly have no shame. The elites, nonpartisan but mostly Democrats, are encouraging hell on the border to force immigration “reform.” That’s painful for the children but tolerable as long as it doesn’t inconvenience the elites. The photographs of children sleeping on the floor at shelters in Arizona and Texas would break Harry Reid’s heart if he had one. The children are there at the not so subtle invitation of Barack Obama.
Congress could get to work on actual immigration reform early tomorrow morning if President Obama, abetted by Mr. Reid and his lockstep Democrats, would compromise with Republicans on the crucial particulars of what to do about the tsunami of Hispanics washing over the border. In the Democratic playbook, amnesty, the third in a quarter of a century, is the only way to quiet hell on the border.
Like so much in Washington that passes for leadership to solve actual problems, the noise over the Redskins is about keeping a pot boiling. Pots on the boil can bring in lots of wampum. Poll after poll shows that nobody but a few American Indian activists are offended by the name “Redskins.” (The Indian activists are moving away from the term “Native Americans” because it accurately describes everybody, red, white or black or shades between, who was born here, and sharing outrage is wasteful.)
The term originated with the Indians. Indeed, Oklahoma, the state where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, draws its name from the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma,” meaning “red people.” Adopting “okla humma” as the name of the new state was clearly meant to honor red people, not disparage them, and in fact the names of most of the states, like many American place names everywhere, are Indian in origin. But if the Washington football club must become ‘Skins of indeterminate shade, surely Oklahoma must get a new name, perhaps “West Arkansas.”
If the elites actually want to do something for the American Indians — or “red Indians,” as our British cousins call them, distinguishing them from the original Indians of Asia, who come in various dusky shades — there’s plenty to do, and plenty of red Indians. The U.S. Government recognizes 5.6 million red Indians among us, in 566 separate tribes in 35 states.
They suffer a poverty rate of nearly 24 percent. Many are alcoholics, and suffer rates of cirrhosis of the liver 368 percent higher than other Americans, diabetes 177 percent higher, and suicide 65 percent higher. In Alaska, young men, many of them Aleuts, are 9 times as likely to kill themselves than all American young men, and native Alaskan women are 19 times as likely to die by suicide.
Actually doing something useful to help the descendants of the people who got here before the rest of us is not as likely to make the papers or the television news as a parade of the phony outrage of a fraud. No one has a greater talent than the elites for driving out the real and the important with trivia and the piddling.
Harry Reid, who sounds as if he is no longer altogether responsible for some of the things he says, affects to be acute and sensitive to the slings and slights aimed at the poor, downtrodden and insulted. He got 50 members of the Senate to sign a letter, addressed to the National Football League, demanding the Redskins change their name.
But he’s the Democratic majority leader who praised Barack Obama for his “light” skin and his lack of “Negro dialect, unless he wants to have one.” Poor Harry. He’s afflicted with a mouth considerably bigger than his brain.
The National Annenberg Election Survey once asked 768 voters who identified themselves as Indians whether they regarded “Redskins” as offensive, and 90 percent said no. A poll by Public Policy Polling similarly found that only 18 percent said the name should be changed.
But that’s hardly front-page news, or grist for self-righteous pundits and columnists trying to escape the sports page. Such findings have no power to get Harry off the sofa or tempt the elites to pose with their piety showing. The Indians would no doubt welcome attention from the elites, paid to the diseases and neglect killing their young. But a gift from the elites is easily taken back when it becomes inconvenient. The elites are only Indian givers, after all.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.