Thursday, October 10, 2013

Symbol Cleansing

Symbol cleansing, which is a more or less harmless public activity—harmless because it does not produce huge refugee camps and deaths—is temporarily on the upswing. The Washington Redskins are coming under pressure to give their team a politically less offensive name. Not Braves, surely, which is another way to refer to once war-like traits of what? Native North Americans?  This landmass had other names back then, therefore “American” may have a faint smell too—as might Indigenous North Americans. We should settle on the Washington Helmets—if that word were not so “defensive”; and Washington Aggressors might be troublesome too—because it used to be, in my Army days, the euphemistic reference to Russians.

This coming Sunday the Redskins face the Cowboys. The number of cowboys in the population presently is not particularly large—or else a lobby would be formed to get rid of “boys,” substituting Cowmen and Cowwomen—unless the U.S. Livestock Association takes umbrage at the use of “cow” or some really wild macho group demands that “bull” be added to the Dallas team’s name, as in the Dallas Bullmen.

It helps when the symbol chosen has no active constituency. Also on the field next Sunday will be the Denver Broncos facing the Jacksonville Jaguars. The earth today has very few spots where broncos actually roam. That word literally means “wild” in Spanish; but the word has been  applied to horses long enough so that even the Spanish have forgotten that the word comes from “knot,” as on an unwelcome, gnarled thickening on an otherwise smooth branch, therefore “rough” and, by extension, “wild.” Now as for jaguars, that species of cat is now in the near-threatened category— as will be the names of sports clubs using that tag after we’ve finally cleared the PC reservation of frowned upon remnants of our own (actually fairly recent) history. In the future—after my ashes have been strewn into the ever rising sea—the Denver Knots may meet the Jacksonville Spots—and if people object to that, we shall eventually have the Jacksonville Homo Habilis in mortal combat with the Denver Homo Erectus, and in the ever larger PC activist community, the target will have become “homo,” an obviously male noun in Latin and therefore offensive. Look out Linnaeus.

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