Native Americans are happy to see Osama bin Laden gone, just like other Americans. Quick little question though: Why did his operational code name have to be Geronimo, one of the last, and perhaps most famous, great resisters of the United States' continental expansion?
"Geronimo" was the adopted name of the Apache leader who fought Mexican and United States armies until his surrender in 1886, after which he was held as a prisoner of war until his death in 1909. He's revered by many as a hero, but now his name is globally linked with the most famous Islamic terrorist in history. Here's one of several responses from Native American leaders, this one via the Syracuse Post-Standard, asking what the hell?
"Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group's hero," the Onondaga Council of Chiefs said in a release Tuesday. "Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity."
"Geronimo is arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world," the chiefs said, "and this comparison only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our people."
The anger has already migrated its way to Washington, where the Senate staff director of the Indian Affairs committee is publicly objecting to the military's use of the term and has "scheduled a hearing Thursday on racial stereotypes of native people," according to the AP.
If you read the comments on the two articles cited above, you'll find a majority expressing the usual exasperation over political correctness, mentioning a waste of taxpayer dollars, how they should "get over it," and so on. Native American leaders have once again forgotten that they're not allowed to take offense over anything.
Update: A formal apology has been requested, too: "The leader of Apache warrior Geronimo's tribe is asking President Barack Obama for a formal apology for the government's use of the revered figure's moniker as a code name for Osama bin Laden."
[Image via AP]