November 24, 2006

Native American Council Ad

I haven't posted on this yet because I've been waiting to see what all Dartmouth's conservatives were going to say about the matter, but even they have been outpaced by this jerk, who compares the NADs (Native Americans at Dartmouth) to, get this, Nazis:
Who is being a racist here? Anyone who has read Mein Kampf and is familiar with the racial concepts presented in it will see a startling similarity to the NAD perspective, in that both see one’s race as the central and most important component in the concept of self. This is far closer to Nazi ideology than to the liberal tradition.
A similar argument (without the Nazi comparison) is made by Malchow:
For most of Dartmouth’s history, worth was indivisible from works. Name-calling was merely external commentary to be judged and often ignored. That philosophy turned out strong people who made a difference in the world. Now, the Wright letter has made it Dartmouth policy to prefer the former—to suggest that everyone is fulfilling his obligation so long as he is not hurting anyone else’s feelings. And that offends me.
Essentially, both are making the argument that the NADs are treating race (or the effects thereof) to define themselves, rather than individual accomplishments.

What this shows, in fact, is not some race-dominated ideology on the part of the NADs, but the absolute refusal by people like Malchow or the Review to recognize that depictions of Indians in mascots or murals or anything else are actually connected to real people. There is a mental disconnect here between "Indians" as an element of American folklore and myth, created in equal part by John Wayne movies and Disney, and the people who go to our campus. They assume that if NADs at Dartmouth just walk around like everyone else, thinking of themselves only as individuals, we can all still yell "Wah-Hoo-Wah" and "Scalp 'em" and wear Indian Head tshirts, and that won't affect the NADs because we're not really doing anything related to them. We're simply accessing a part of American folklore, like the pioneers or something—not real Native Americans!

This is, of course, utterly false. There is not that disconnect between the Indians that Reviewers wear and the Native Americans on our campus. Both represent the same group of people and not two distinct and unconnected groups. Yelling "Scalp 'em" is an affront to Native Americans on our campus, and it is not overly racialized or overly sensitive on the part of the NADs to believe or to assert that. Calling out racism when you see it, whether it touches you or not, is not putting race before individuality—it is a protest against the way others have been racializing you at the expense of your individuality.

I will have more posts on this topic over the next few days.
One thing, however, that concerns me is that people like Malchow and the Review, through their connections with conservative alumni, are often seen as the voices of the students, which is just ridiculous. The only arguments many alums hear are the ones that say free speech is being repressed at Dartmouth, that liberal interest groups are having their way with students' rights, that conservatives are somehow in danger of being silenced and deported to George Mason or something. This debate on racism at Dartmouth is one worth having and airing broadly, and it should be a debate. Unfortunately, all too often, only one side gets airtime with the alums, and that is the conservative side. I wish there were more liberal voices at Dartmouth that can reach alums.


  1. Anonymous8:57 PM

    The Review is a person now?

    Needless to say, one of the fundamental oppositions to the Indian mascot comes from the Native Students saying that it is misrepresentative of Native culture. I am absolutely certain that no one who wears or supports the Indian on campus understands Native culture only so far as the mascot. People who wear the symbol do not do it to be racist, only to support their idea of the college mascot and the qualities ingrained in the mass-media image of the Indian. The symbol shouldn't offend because it is not meant to be a depiction of Native culture. It's a depiction of the school spirit and the mass-media Indian. I understand that the young and uneducated may in some cases only have the Indian symbol to base their perceptions of native culture. But that problem lies in our educational system and an apathetic mass-media that fails to address the issue on news shows, sesame street, and papers, not in college kids who show their school spirit through wearing the Indian Symbol.

  2. Anonymous9:05 PM

    "Unfortunately, all too often, only one side gets airtime with the alums, and that is the conservative side. I wish there were more liberal voices at Dartmouth that can reach alums."

    Have you considered that if the Review gets wide circulation among alums, it's because the alums subscribe to it? Maybe if "liberal voices" were publishing things the alums wanted to read, then the alums would read them.

  3. anonymous 1: Good job not reading my argument. Why don't you try reading it again, and this time move your eyes a little bit so you see the words.

    Anonymous 2 (if you're not in fact the same person): Yeah I've considered it. I've also considered the fact that liberals on campus do have plenty to say that many alums would want to read, but that a) we've never attracted the kind of sponsorship from agenda-driven national organizations like The Review has, b) we don't kiss prominent politically like-minded alums' asses like Malchow does with PowerLine and c) the actual alumni reading public is not representative of the actual alumni body--i.e. old white men are going to have more time to read a Dartmouth publication than a young alum who is still trying to start his/her career. The older (white male) alums are generally likely to be more conservative, especially on Dartmouth issues, than are younger alums.

    So yeah, there are a few reasons why conservative voices are disproportionately represented in the minds of alums, and it has nothing to do with the quality of their writing or argumentation.

  4. Andrew,

    Thanks for referring to me as "this jerk". Let me offer you a thought rather than another epithet in response.

    Nazi ideology gave primacy to race over all other considerations. In this respect, it has something in common with any race-based organization that makes the same mistake.

    "All really important symptoms of decay…ultimately go back to racial causes. No matter whether questions of general law or excrescences or economic life, whether cultural symptoms of decline or political processes of degeneration, whether questions of faculty education at school or evil influence on the grown-ups by the press, etc., are involved, always and everywhere it is fundamentally the non-recognition of racial considerations of one’s own people or the non-recognition of a foreign, a racial, danger."

    – Adolf Hitler
    Nation and Race
    Mein Kampf

    p. 452 Reynal & Hitchcock, 193

  5. Anonymous11:25 PM

    Andrew, thank you bringing up the NAC ad in your blog. And to Anonymous 8:57 pm -- the Native Americans at Dartmouth (NAD or NAC) protest the t-shirts, canes, dress-up at themed events, etc. precisely to counter the mass-media Indian depiction you cite. How will people who do not mean to be racist know they're actions are offensive unless the offended say, "hey, what you are doing offends me by stereotyping my culture."

    Incidentally, saying "I'm offended" does not equal "Do not ever do that again." It means, "If you do what offends me again, knowing that it offends me, I'll know that you do not respect me."