None of these people is particularly important to me, because they aren’t members of my family. I don’t see how I am responsible for them, or why I should care, and anyway, they seem to be doing all right. It’s the same as, like, hunger. There are a lot of starving people in the world, but after all, a lot of them are still living, right?
In my experience, the worst thing you can do about a problem is pay attention to it. I would never have bothered to address the subject at all, except the President was fool enough to pick up the telephone while his secretary was out of the room, and had to get to involved. Because ignoring this is not an option, I will go with the second-best thing, which is to change the subject to avoid a distasteful controversy. Also my media crisis managers have advised me to make myself more sympathetic by appealing to gushing sentiment, and reminding people that I am at heart a six-year-old.
Therefore, I’d like to talk about the past — not your past, or anyone else’s, but the one that matters: mine.
I still remember the first time I went to a Pigskin game. I was only six. I will never forget going through the tunnel into the stadium, and being struck by the enormity of all that licensing revenue opening up before me. When we scored a touchdown, and the crowd roared, I literally felt the thunder of all that cash. The tradition — the music of the old-fashioned registers, with their bell-like ringing noises — mattered so much to me as a child.
Our past isn’t just where we came from — it’s who we are.
I say this so you won’t think too much about who I really am.
When I think about the old-fashioned epithet my team is named after, I consider what it stands for. As some of you may know, it was given to us 81 years ago by an avowed segregationist who liked to play Plantation Owner and Pickaninny. He saw an opportunity to cash in on the public fascination with Indians, the popularity of dime-store pulp and westerns such as the 1932 film “Ride ’Em Cowboy.” It was all a marketing gimmick.
But let’s obscure that fact with a meaningless jumble of pseudo-patriotism and concern for history, which I barely studied in school, and when I did, I spent most of class chewing on my arm. Our franchise has a great tradition and legacy — one I haven’t bothered to investigate very deeply beyond the football part of it, unless reading the adventures of “Mustang Merle” battling “Fer-O-Cious Hostiles!” counts.
Anyway, the soreheads tell me that in 1933 the bigot owner hired a coach with purported Indian roots who turned out to be fake. This guy had gone to the Carlisle Indian School and coached football at the Haskell Institute, two government-run trade schools that happened to have powerful football teams, but really specialized in “forcible assimilation” of Indian children. That meant seizing them from their parents, cutting off their braids, and forbidding them to speak their native languages, at peril of punishment by bullwhip. Carlisle’s proud motto was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man,” while Haskell could boast that it was the school that Jim Thorpe ran away from, twice.