As often happens to me, two or more seemingly unrelated items cross my path, which, when viewed together, leave an indelible impression on me. This time it was the word "Warriors."
My friend Al made an interesting comment in the steam room last week that he discovered he was referenced a number of times in recent book. The book, The Silent Warrior, is written by a sniper, and it involved Al's tour of duty as a Marine in Vietnam. Al has kept in touch with his old outfit (only 35 of 300 who went to Vietnam with him actually came back), so he obtained a copy of the book.
Then the local Sunday paper featured a front page article about nearby Auburn, MI, and the efforts by the Michigan Civil Rights Department to force them, along with 34 other Michigan K-12 schools, to get rid of their Warrior mascot and name. There is a lot of "psycho-babble" offered as proof of possible damage to Native Americans, but no one is listed who feels they have been harmed.
These type incidents fall under the category of "political correctness", or PC. Similar efforts were presented in the Feb 18, 2013, issue of Time when the legislatures in Olympia, Washington, replaced "freshman" with "first year student", "penmanship" with "handwriting" and "sportsman" with "outdoors enthusiast ". A national incident on PC occurred this past week when the famed neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson was invited to speak at a prayer breakfast. With President Obama seated not 10 feet away, he proceeded to lecture the audience for 25 minutes on two of his favorite topics: political correctness run amok and the national debt. The media reporting of this speech was, as expected, divided by red/blue bias.
Getting back to the Warrior issue, I personally have two alma maters with this "problem." My high school was, and still is, known as the Warriors. My MBA came from nearby Central Michigan University, who are known as the Chippewa's. In the case of CMU, they "paid off" the local Chippewa tribe--who didn't have any problems with the name--and the NCAA went away.
So I go back to Al and ask him, a Marine veteran of three years, what the term warrior means to him. Like myself, he thinks it is an honorable name to be called, and we have no association of the term with Native Americans, good or bad. Could one find a single person who has been "damaged" in any way by attending a school with a warrior mascot? Maybe if you looked hard enough.Is the answer to this individual's problem a complete overhaul and rewriting the history of an institution? I think not.
So I close with the law precept put forward by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who spent 30 years as a jurist on the Supreme Court in the early 20th century. He defined as a "reasonable person" one who would view the facts of a case as a "composite of the relevant community's judgement on how an individual person should view them." (Actually, I think he said reasonable man, and that has been changed to reasonable person.) I understand that this definition is often given to jurors by the presiding judge. It works for me, too.