Football, Frank Baum, Glenn Beck, Hypocrisy, Oneida, Propaganda, Racism, Recursion, Washington redskins
The accusation of hypocrisy can be a very effective means of facilitating the same. Case in point? This little gem from Redskinsfacts.com. I hesitate to post it, because the link will take you to Blaze TV, which is Glenn Beck’s little neck of the net, but well… professional bigots must at times be answered, even if it means giving petulant children more attention than they deserve.
Glenn Beck is in rare form in that video, trying to turn “What’s up my Cracker?” into a thing. It is neither clever nor insightful, though I suppose he thinks it some sort of social commentary. What his use of the phrase does do is help us understand that some folks never outgrow the adolescent desire to piss off the adults in the room, and that those people frequently find their way into the heart’s and minds of those addicted to right wing political porn. You can also hear some bizarre comments about Hitler’s non-existent children in that video along with something about an alleged apology for his actions. There is nothing in the clip to suggest that Beck and company know this little trip through Godwin’s Law is utter bullshit. Rather, they appear to figure this narrative is true, because, well that’s what must have happened, right?
…which is pretty much how history works in the world of Glenn Beck.
All that aside, Beck’s main point (to the extent that he has one) is that the Oneida Nation of New York is building a casino to be named after The Wizard of Oz. What makes this disturbing is its author’s history of racism. L. Frank Baum advocated the complete annihilation of Native Americans. yes he did. They are right about that. Beck and Company find it absurd that a tribe which has been critical of Washington’s football team would honor the work of a racist. In fact, they find it quite hypocritical.
As you can see above, so do the folks at Redskinsfacts.com.
It pains me to say this, but they do have a point. Whatever the merits of The Wizard of Oz in literature, cinema, or simply marketing strategies, it’s difficult to explain why any Native American community would want to be associated with Baum’s work. We could debate the exact equivalent of naming a casino after a work done by an author whose also expressed racist views and the use of a name that directly perpetuates racist stereotypes with every mention made of it throughout the entire football season, but some might think that was splitting hairs (or giant redwood trees, …whatever!). At the end of the day, they do have a point; this is a problem.
Of course the problem doesn’t end there. Inconsistencies abound in politics, and one can hardly point at the second face of someone else without raising questions about his own self-presentation. Beck and company aren’t really trying to get the tribe to drop its plans for a casino named after Baum’s work, and they are certainly uninterested in spreading the word about Baum’s racism. No, this is an opportunistic moment for them, a chance to seize on a misstep by those who threaten their world in some tiny way. Beck and company are defending the name of the Washington football team, and that team is thoroughly invested in racism at every level of its organization. The Oneida Nation of New York could easily reconsider its pans (and let us hope they do), but a change of the Washington team’s name would require re-branding on a scale unimaginable to some folks. If this is a tale of two racisms it is a tale in which one of them is a Hell of a lot more important than the other. Beck and company know this, and they are hoping their audience doesn’t. As explained by one of Beck’s talking heads, the name of the team has always been used to honor Native Americans.
…he is of course lying.
It’s interesting to watch Beck and company run through the motions of pretending to discuss the issue as one of his talking heads plays good cop to the other guy’s bad cop. His sole effort in defense of the Oneida is to remind us of Washington Team’s name and to add that they are playing football. That’s it. That’s what Beck and company offer to speak for the case against the Washington team’s name. And of course they move on to suggest that the Oneida must be trying to accomplish something secret in attacking the team name. Bad cop can’t quite tell us what that is, and of course he’s somehow forgotten all the other Native Americans who also oppose the team name, but he can probably rely on most of Beck’s audience to forget this as well. Ultimately, the bottom line in this segment is a clear defense of the Washington Team by mans of a simple tu quoque fallacy.
If Beck and company say “what about you” loud enough, they hope everyone will forget about their own politics and those they hope to support through segments like this.
This is of course also the only reason the folks at Redskins Facts bring it up as well. They too are not the least bit interested in saving any indigenous people from exposure to the racist views of L. Frank Baum. They merely hope to embarrass a political enemy by pointing out the inconsistency of linking themselves to the work of a racist while opposing their own team name. They are right to the extent that there is an inconsistency in this, but that inconsistency stands like a mirror reflection of their own agenda. They hope to deflect attention from the racism saturating their own politics by calling attention to the hypocrisy of one of their principle critics. In doing so, they themselves become hypocrites themselves, and their sole hope is that no-one will notice the reflexive nature of the problem.
We can well ask if the Oneida should be building this casino while opposing the name of the Washington football team. We can also ask if RedskinsFacts.com, Glenn Beck, and all his talking heads ought to be complaining about what an Indian tribe chooses to name its casino while defending a sports team with an explicitly racist name?
I’m guessing the better answer is ‘no’ on both counts, but then again, we all know we won’t be getting that kind of answer from the folks pushing this story any time soon.
This is the kind of political issue that would fall under the scope of people who
don’t follow sports. You’ve effectively broadened the scope of your analyses
to illustrate how the toxins of racism poison us all.