I actually feel a bit of sympathy for Native Americans. I’m sure they’re thinking, “Really? They had to pick Geronimo? Bad enough that everybody jumping out of an airplane says it, when they could just as easily shout, ‘hey, I can see my house from here’ — but now one of our ancestors, and one of the few Native American figures that everybody in the country can name has to be forever associated with the world’s most wanted terrorist? They couldn’t have picked, I don’t know, ‘rutabaga’ or something?”
Of course, had they picked rutabaga, I’m certain the American Rutabaga Growers Association would be up in arms, furious that their noble root vegetable would forever be associated with the world’s most wanted and demanding to know, “Why Rutabaga? What did our crop ever do? It’s not like our vegetable hijacks planes and kills thousands of Americans! Why did you have to pick that as his code name, out of all the possible words? Why not, I don’t know, Voldemort?” And then, of course, Harry Potter fans would be outraged . . .
It would have been this way for every code name. Except maybe “Hitler.”
Still, does this really need congressional hearings? ABC News: “The Senate Indian Affairs committee will hold a hearing Thursday on racist Native American stereotypes, a hearing that will now also address the Osama bin Laden mission and the code-name Geronimo. While the hearing was scheduled before the mission, a committee aide today said the linking of the name Geronimo with the world’s most wanted man is ‘inappropriate’ and can have a ‘devastating’ impact on kids. ‘The hearing was scheduled well before the Osama bin Laden operation became news, but the concerns over the linking of the name of Geronimo, one of the greatest Native American heroes, with the most hated enemies of the United States is an example of the kinds of issues we intended to address at Thursday’s hearing,’ Loretta Tuell, the committee’s chief counsel, said in a statement. ‘These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating,’ Tuell said. ‘We intend to open the forum to talk about them.’”
Dan Mitchell at Cato: “I’m not saying that the Geronimo was the best choice in the world. I’m sure, for instance, that the CIA (or Defense Department, or whoever) would understand that a negative-sounding Middle-Eastern code-name (such as “Towel-head”) would be completely inappropriate. Likewise, I doubt anybody in the government would use an African-American-sounding code-name, particularly when referencing a villain. In other words, some common-sense sensitivity is a good thing. But is there any reason why the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Akaka of Hawaii, can’t make a quiet phone call and say, ‘I know you guys didn’t mean anything, but in the future please stay away from using code-names that link bad guys to American Indians.’”
Donald Douglas observes, “Good thing they didn’t take out Osama with a Tomahawk missile.”
Top Ten Alternate Code Names for Osama bin Laden
1. Aspiring Fishfood
2. Beardy McBeard
3. The Psaudi Psycho
4. The Guy Who Was Big in Videos About a Decade Ago
5. Mr. I-Kicked-the-Soviets-Out-of-Afghanistan-All-By-Myself
6. Waldo (courtesy Proof Positive)
8. Nedal nib Amaso (a complicated code)
9. The Abotta-Bad Guy
Of course, that last one would bring complaints from those snippy Neanderthals from the Geico commercials.