1. JennyM
    Offline

    JennyM Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    London

    Being politically correct

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JennyM, Feb 23, 2013.

    Please can I ask one of our American cousins a question?

    What is the politically correct way to address Native American Indian? In the 1800s I understand they were called 'Indians', so in a historical book, they should be called 'Indians'.

    It maybe obvious to some, but for me, I'd like to get it correct.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    my wife is Cherokee. She prefers to be called Native
     
  3. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    First off, I hate political correctness. Millions of our soldiers over the two hundred year history of our Republic have died for freedoms, and for the freedoms of Europeans. To toss away their lives so something isn't "offensive" is the height of insult and contempt.

    I speak what I think. I vote. I carry guns. I refuse to answer anything to a cop when covered by my enumerated 4A and 5A rights. And anyone who doesn't do this is an abject fool.

    So to answer your question, what do you feel is right? If the term Indian is correct for the time-line of the story, then use the term. Frankly, it's becoming one of those "created sensibility" issues that's a tempest in a teapot. For example, numerous American schools have Indian themed mascots. Now we must all surrender even our very thoughts or they're going to get offended.

    There was a story about ten years ago in The Readers Digest about a group of Japanese citizens who came to a USA high school upon finding that their football team had a mushroom cloud on their helmets. The team's name was "The Bombers."

    The Japanese whined on about the war, the cruelty of war, the yada yada about war, and then the football coach asked if he could offer a rebuttal. He took the microphone and simply said, "Well, you started it."

    At various times in history everybody has offended somebody else. If this realization offends someone, then I suggest they stay home in their bedroom with a cool compress on their forehead. Life is a struggle, not everyone is going to be a winner.

    JennyM, when you pen your book I hope you ponder the fact that young boys who never got a chance to come home--about 3000 of them--lay in cemetery in France. They were blown up, drown, ripped apart by pillbox fire and screamed out for their mothers so fascists couldn't tell you how to live.

    Don't let some whiner tell you how to live, either.
     
  4. JennyM
    Offline

    JennyM Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    London
    Thanks Erebh, just what I wanted to know.

    Tourist, I agree with you. Though I'm sensitive to others, after all, I wouldn't want someone to call me a fat old decrepit woman, even if it was true (truth is 2 out of the 3 could be right!).
     
  5. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    just innocently wondering what that's got to do with JennyM's equally innocent question has to how Native Americans like to be thought of....
     
  6. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    In the final summation, who cares. I care what I think, and being brow-beaten is not in my lexicon.

    People died for all of our freedoms, this thread touches on the freedom of speech.

    BTW, we do have cases where the left re-writes books. The Classic "Huckleberry Finn" has been re-written. I believe some of the Obama supporters are now pondering a re-visiting of The Alamo where the Texicans fight with feather dusters. No one gets hurt, and after ten days, the Santa Ana and Davy Crockett go out for frozen yogurt.

    I hope you find that ridiculous. However, let me also quote a passage from a book, Orwell's "1984." Their ministry had a slogan, "He who controls the past controls the future, and he who controls the present controls the past."

    As a writer, you ought to care passionately on this issue.

    (BTW, JennyM, I will be quick to remind you that in the United States there are as many blue states as red states. In fact, two states now have articles of secession in their legislatures for Obama's abuses under 10A.)
     
  7. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    ohhhhhh kay!

    By the way JennyM - I just asked my wife again, she prefers to be called Native when she's in America and Native American when here in Europe. Might be obvious but.... :)
     
  8. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    And she can call herself whatever she wishes. That's her freedom.

    However, as the saying goes, her freedoms end before the tip of my nose. Whether I offend her or not has nothing to do with the application of my freedoms.
     
  9. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    What is usually dubbed "political correctness" has, as its basis, the element of respect for others as individuals. My dad used to say that with every freedom comes a responsibility, and the larger, more diverse and more complex a society becomes, the more important it becomes to keep our discourses on a respectful level. To take one example, it may be scientifically accurate to describe a transgendered person as a "genetic male masquerading as a female", but it is inordinately and unnecessarily hurtful to that person to do so, and thus damages personal interactions.

    That said, as writers, we are not engaged in direct social interations but rather the portrayal of those interactions, and so we often deal with stories that portray the breakdowns in them. In such cases, it can actually be counter-productive to refrain from descriptions or name-calling that within the context of social interaction would be hurtful.

    Getting back to JennyM's question, Native American is the official US governmental classification (as a protected group), the result of the work of various advocacy groups back in the 1970s and '80s, and that's the usual usage, though as erebh points out, there are always individual preferences. It's instructive to remember that the reason they were called "Indians" in the first place was that Columbus supposedly thought he was actually in Asia, although historians now doubt that he really believed that. It is more likely that he knew from the beginning that he had bumped into a previously undiscovered land mass but used the Asia fiction to assure continued royal support.
     
  10. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Ed, I respect your opinions, and you provide well thought out information.

    However, I have never signed, nor will I be forced to sign, nor can I find a Constitutional foundation for a "the official US governmental classification (as a protected group)" supposition or statute.

    The left says a lot of things and defoliates large sections of forests issuing bills, white papers and unfunded mandates. None of them worth anything.

    I suppose Homeland Security can come and see me if they wish.

    Edit: BTW, my high school's football team is still known as "The Indians."
     
  11. erebh
    Offline

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,620
    Likes Received:
    467
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    In Tarrantino's new film Django Unchained, almost every second word is "Nigga". Apparently it's his biggest grossing film to date and I haven't heard a single comment with regards racism so maybe writers get a pass on PCness anyway......
     
  12. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    For the good of the forum, I suggest we keep responses relevant to the original post, or at least to a point raised in a subsequent response.

    Ed and erebh are right -- the most accepted term is "Native American." Although from your question, I'm not sure if you're asking about referring to them in a historical context --i.e. if your story takes place in the 1800s or the first half to 3/4 of the 1900s, would they be referred to as "Indians?" They probably would, even though it's not an accurate designation, and can create confusion. Are you wondering about the acceptability of using the improper term amongst characters in a story that takes place much earlier? That's a harder call, and a more nuanced issue.
     
  13. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Actually, there have been a LOT of complaints about racism w/r/t this film.
     
  14. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    (erebh, BTW, make no mistake, I am enjoying this debate and I think it's valuable to discuss both sides of this.)

    I am hearing the same thing--even from my black friends. In fact, about two weeks ago I saw an exchange on TV between two black reporters who said they laughed their heads off in sections, and then wondered if they should feel guilty about it.

    Hey, I go to biker movies. "Easy Rider" didn't exactly come out well for my side, but it's still a great movie. I wouldn't change a frame.

    Edit: Speaking of "Easy Rider," here's a very important scene from that movie, on freedom. This movie dates to 1969. It's as important now, as then.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE7VwCnnrlg
     
  15. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I would use terms as they were at the time your story takes place. I've seen modern terms used in historicals and it was always jarring and annoying.

    (Personally, my take on PC is that I won't use a known pejorative, but I'm not going to worry about offending someone because I'm not "up" on the 'preferred' terminology. And that's all I'm going to say on that. :))
     
  16. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Oh, c'mon, 'Walker, don't candy-coat it, tell us what you think--like you always do! That's why I like you! :p
     
  17. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    if you're writing a historical novel, it doesn't matter what tribal people like to be called now, because you must call them what they were called at the time you are writing about... so, if your novel is set in the 1800s, to call them 'native americans' or the current canadian version, 'first nation people' would make no sense, would it?
     
  18. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,089
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    There is another issue here, and that's marketability.

    If you use honest lanuage the lefties will excoriate you.

    If you wuss, guys like me will never buy your books again.

    Either way, a large section of the book-buying public is lost to you. But then, you could cite any faction of literature and use the same argument. No matter what kind of jokes Jay Leno tells, he gets hate mail. You should see what I get here...
     
  19. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England
    And don't you just love it!
     
  20. DeathandGrim
    Offline

    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    540
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    They were called just Indians back then
     
  21. Pauly Pen Feathers
    Offline

    Pauly Pen Feathers Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Just north west of "that toddlin' town"
    Look at the mess Columbus started. He landed in the Antilles and called the inhabitants Indians because he thought he was in India. Now he's up there somewhere in the Happy Hunting Grounds in the Sky laughing at each and every one of us.
     
  22. JJ_Maxx
    Offline

    JJ_Maxx Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2012
    Messages:
    3,339
    Likes Received:
    502
    As writers we are usually speaking through a character. This character is not US, it is a flawed, perhaps bigoted, ignorant, or outright mean character. Some writers make the mistake of thinking every word in their book is their own. I take no responsibility for the alcohol/drug abuse, bigoted, sexist, racist inclinations of my characters. They are who they are, for better or for worse.

    Just my two cents.

    ~ J. J.
     
  23. JennyM
    Offline

    JennyM Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2013
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    London
    Many wise words. Thanks for taking the time to teach me. The old westerns used to say 'Indians', but on the hand, that 'N' word appears to cause an issue. Just goes to show, it's impossible to please all. It's a negative emotion behind the name that should cause the offence, not the name. Gracias. Good lesson learnt.
     
  24. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    The US census (required in the constitution) recognizes Native Americans as a separate group, as do other governmental bodies of statistics. They are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and subsequent related laws. The constitution provides a framework for government that recognizes that future generations will make whatever decisions they determine to be necessary through their elected representatives. Acts of Congress do not require voter signoff. That's the foundation.

    None of this has anything to do with JennyM's original question, so I suggest we agree to disagree and let it go at that.
     
  25. cswillson
    Offline

    cswillson Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2010
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Used-to-be-Space Coast, Florida
    Your story has to be accurate for the time in which it happened. Just make sure you get it right. That takes some research--reading stories and essays of the time and the place.

    Not everybody's going to like it. So what? It's your story, do it your way. If they want it different they can write one.

    Doesn't bother me at all to be called an Indian, but few do. My friends in Great Britain call me Yank or Colonist. I think it's funny. Other than that if they call me anything other than my name it's Marine. That doesn't bother me, either.
     

Share This Page