Jewish World Review August 29, 2001/ 10 Elul 5761

Wesley Pruden

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But what is a chief without any Indians? -- LET'S cry a tear this morning with Geronimo.

The mighty Chiricahua Apache chieftain, who terrorized the U.S. Cavalry in Arizona and New Mexico as the 19th century began to wane, weeps bitter tears somewhere on the happy hunting ground. He shouldn't have to cry alone.

He has good reason to weep. Certain descendants of the noble red man, an examplar of courage, cunning and true grit for generations of American boys, are aping the example of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, of all people, extorting in the name of perverted notions of justice. In the Rev's case, for a lot of wampum.

Running a race hustle can be very profitable, as the Rev demonstrates with his looting of corporate America, and it beats working. But it would shame Geronimo and the courageous redskins of an earlier, more virile America.

Richard Regan, who tried to shut down a Little League in suburban Maryland because he was "offended" that some of the teams called themselves "Braves," "Indians" and "Warriors," is new at this form of ethnic cleansing, and, unlike Jesse Jackson, has not yet revealed exactly how he expects to make a buck (no pun intended) with the boycott he tried to organize under the sponsorship of a state agency, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, of which he is a member.

But he has big dreams. He wants to cleanse the entire state of Maryland of traces of Indians. Today, Maryland; tomorrow, the world. The Montgomery County Board of Education will consider tonight a resolution to ban such names. After ethnically cleansing Maryland, Mr. Regan can then work on eliminating the Indian names of half the states. Illinois is the most odious of all, named for the Illini, a tribe of Algonquins who called themselves by their word for "warriors." But what did they know? Fortunately, Maryland owes its name to no such robust legacy; the state was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of an English king, Charles II. But for a bureaucrat's whim, Parris Glendening would be the governor of Henrietta.

But not just states. Potomac is out, along with Susquehanna, Patuxent and Monocacy. So are Assateague, Accokeek, Anacostia, Quantico and Mattaponi. We might just assign numbers to our rivers, our purple-mountain majesties, our fruited plains. This might offend mathematicians as well as poets. It's not yet clear what we can do about Indian summer, except cancel it.

Richard Regan says he is an Indian of the Lumbee Cheraw tribe, though his own Christian name, of sturdy Anglo-Saxon origin, renders this claim suspicious. If he really is an Indian, his parents showed little sensitivity to Anglo-Saxon sensibilities when they appropriated the name Richard for a Lumbee child, and he shows even less regard for the common decencies by flaunting it.

Racism, after all, is in the eye of the beholder, which is what makes the race hustle so profitable in modern America. (As a descendant of a tribe of Northumberland pig farmers, some of whom were probably named "Richard,"

I can tell you that my kinsmen are highly offended.) Gov. Glendening, no kemo sabe he, stayed behind at the fort in Annapolis and dispatched his cavalry at the Department of Housing and Community Development, which supervises Mr. Regan's commission, to call off the boycott. Could anyone imagine Geronimo or Sitting Bull as petty bureaucrats? Mr. Regan was so disappointed that he lapsed into a little insensitive himself.

"I feel like the legs have been cut out from under us," he said.

Such hate speech is probably in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and if not should be, demonstrating unbelievable insensitivity to surgeons as well as to paraplegics.

And it gets worse. Certain other Indian "activists" an "activist" is someone without a life are eager to cleanse the landscape of other place names as well. They have targeted Squaw Mountain in Maine. They insist "squaw" is an Indian word for "prostitute," and Gov. Angus King of Maine (his parents, perhaps ignorant of bovine feelings, named him for a cow?) agreed to erase "squaw" from the map.

This shows shocking insensitivity to hundreds of gainfully employed ladies of the evening, and changing Squaw Valley to Hooker Valley is likely to offend a lot of pimps. Pimps are people, too.

Mr. Regan acts as if he speaks for Indians from sea to shining sea, though a Comanche of my acquaintance insists "there's no way we would listen to a Lumbee about anything."

Indeed, several callers who identified themselves variously as Algonquin, Iroquois, Quapaw and Cheyenne note that Maryland -- or Henrietta -- has not a single Indian tribe. Mr. Regan, they scoff, is just another chief without any Indians.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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