The Corner

Playing Redskins’, and Devils’, Advocate

Trying to score a point for the anti-Redskins side, Geoffrey Nunberg, writing in The Atlantic, argues from a common assumption that he illustrates with a factual error.

First, the error: He implies that the New Jersey Devils are named for “the Prince of Darkness.” They’re not. Their name is a reference to the Jersey Devil, an elusive winged creature that, according to local legend, haunts South Jersey. The team does incorporate traces of conventional devil symbolism into its logo, however, which may be what led Nunberg to think that “New Jersey Devils” belongs to a class of team names “meant to evoke . . . destructive forces of nature, brigands and bandits, ancient warriors, and other assorted malignant beings.”

Therein lies the common assumption. In the mainstream culture of today, the martial virtues — persistence, determination, resilience, stoicism, courage — that were attributed to American Indians when sports teams were adopting Indian names last century are no longer so valued, at least not when they’re demonstrated on the literal battlefield, of which the playing field was once considered an obvious figure. Where our grandparents saw bravery etc., we tend to see “savagery or inhumanity,” in Nunberg’s words. For a book-length articulation of this shift in attitudes toward soldiery, Tom Engelhardt’s The End of Victory Culture might be the place to begin.

“Ancient warriors, and other malignant beings”: The anti-militarism expressed in that phrase is doing more to fuel the anti-Redskins movement than either its opponents or its supporters tend to recognize.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More