Mood Indian — a different perspective

In this post, Scott (with an assist from Joe Malchow) reviewed the latest installment in Dartmouth’s Indian wars. One highlight was the apology by athletic director Josie Harper for the inclusion of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the upcoming hockey tournament at Dartmouth. I agree with Scott that her apology represents politically correct sensitivity run amuck.
However, I have a somewhat different perspective when it comes to the letter by Dartmouth’s president James Wright (reproduced in this post) comdemning offensive behavior directed at the college’s Native American students. While I find much to disagree with in Wright’s letter (for example, his suggestion that if someone says he’s offended by behavior, the behavior must have been offensive and should stop), this column in the student newspaper describes behavior some of which, it seems to me, can quite reasonably be viewed as offensive to Native Americans.
I very much doubt that this behavior is attributable to racism. More likely, it represents a backlash against the kind of political correctness exhibited in the athletic director’s ridiculous apology. Indeed, while the Indian no longer is permitted to symbolize the college, his banishment has become the symbol for much of what many college conservatives and traditionalists think ails Dartmouth.
Nonetheless, offensive behavior is offensive behavior, and it does not strike me as inappropriate for President Wright to have expressed concern over some of the conduct about which some the college’s Native Americans have complained.


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