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The Associated Press Covers the Condescension

For reporters, the sexiest element of the Native Americans-Dartmouth-Indian-Offense-Free Speech-Political Correctness debacle is quickly becoming clear: The fact that Dartmouth’s Athletic Director, in an official capacity, apologized to Dartmouth for the possibly-offensive ‘Fighting Sioux’ team name of the University of North Dakota, whose hockey team we soon will be playing.

The Associated Press covers the story in a report that begins this way:

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A Dartmouth College official who disagrees with the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname has publicly apologized for a hockey tournament that is to include the UND team.
Ms. Harper’s ‘apology’ to Dartmouth for the ignorance of those backwards North Dakotans and their university strikes me as elitist and in poor form. (And it goes without saying that the UND mascot was drawn by an American Indian and approved, on multiple occasions, by the nearby Sioux tribe. And it goes without saying that North Dakotans don’t much mind their proud team name, and that that state’s native people by and large do not imagine that North Dakotans are closet racists whose hateful thoughts are slyly manifest in the state college’s hockey logo.)

But back to propriety. Kevin Hudak said something very keen on the blog of The Dartmouth Review today:

In [Josie Harper’s] approach, the Dartmouth administration and community as a whole is not communicating with the UND AD or President, and we are not having a dialogue with the students of UND. These are tried and true strategies that we see around campus to confront problems of intolerance and misunderstanding, and they are being completely ignored by a high-ranking member of our administration.

Instead, we are being warned about the upcoming pain and suffering that will surely follow the UND hockey players. Unfortunately, the truth is that those hockey players have a very small hand in perpetuating the mascot—surely, if there is blame it falls squarely on the UND administration and Ralph Engelstad, who donated $100 million for the construction of the new arena on the condition the “Fighting Sioux” name remained.

Yet it is clear from the tone of Harper’s letter that the focus of the controversy is on the arrival of the hockey team, who are the ambassadors of UND whether they like it or not. As a result, they will be greeted with letters of apology from Dartmouth administrators and perhaps a one or two page spread in The Dartmouth when I presume all they want to do is continue being a world-class college hockey team and play in the Ledyard Invitational. against other world-class college hockey teams.

As the above opinion piece makes clear, these are our invited guests, and as ambassadors of Dartmouth, I would hope that AD Josie Harper, the hockey team, and the entire Dartmouth community treat them with the respect and tolerance that we hold dear as a campus, and that they deserve.

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