About Nate

Nate is a contributor and past co-host on the “Arsenal For Democracy” show. He was previously the co-founder of the Starboard Broadside political blog with Bill in 2008.

Washingskins

Greg had a great post the other day on the controversy surrounding the Washington football team’s long-standing “nickname” — Redskins. I’ve spent more time than is healthy reading internet comment sections on this issue, so I consider myself an expert on the arguments against changing the name. Most are as vacuous as they are willfully ignorant.

“But what about the Fighting Irish? Or the Vikings? Or the Celtics? We would have to change them too.”

This one is my favorite. As if there’s no difference between mascots named for the predominant ethnic group in the area and a racial nickname for the sports team in a capital that once carried out an active policy of ethnic cleansing against that racial group. As someone with Norwegian, Irish, and Native American ancestry, I am particularly amused by these comparisons. No Minnesotans of Swedish origin are up in arms about being compared to their Viking ancestors. Sure, they did a fair share of pillaging, but Vikings had democratic assemblies and were among the most advanced seafaring civilizations of their era. Boston Celtics? The history of the basketball team cannot be told without contextualizing it within Boston’s identity as an Irish city (for better and for worse). Fighting Irish is a similar situation. It was coined by a member of Notre Dame’s own football team and embraced by the Irish Catholic student body, unless there’s a massive uprising against it we’re not hearing about.

“But Indians support the name!”

Then they’ll point to some ten year old poll and talk about how there are Redskin team names on Native American reservation. Oh, ok. No problem then. I guess the fact that some Natives don’t care negates those that do. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works. Just like if your black friend lets you say slurs, you’re free to yell them around other black people and then name your business a racial slur. No problems there.

“Uhhg it’s the LIBERALS trying to PC everything up.”

Ah, the old P.C. canard. I prefer to think of this issue less as enforcing “politically correct” terminology and more making sure none of our sport teams are named something blatantly racist. When the Redskins were founded by vile racist George Preston Marshall, the term Oriental was in vogue to refer to Asian people. Does that mean we should name a team the Orientals? What about the Coloreds? That word and a few others were pretty popular around that time to refer to black people. Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, is a Jewish person. I wonder if he would appreciate a team named the Hebes (or worse) with a hooknosed Jew clasping a bag of gold. I know for sure the Washington Darkeys wouldn’t fly today, but this is essentially what we are talking about: an antique word, a relic from an era where pasty scientists obsessively studied the differences between the “races” and learned men established white dominion over the language.

“Don’t be weak and choose to be offended.”

This is perhaps the stupidest. First of all, you don’t really choose to take offense. But second of all, I don’t think Natives are “offended,” so much as sick of the bullshit. I know a decent amount of Natives, most of whom grew up on/close to a reservation. I once asked a friend of mine about the name Redskins and he replied,  “It’s not that it’s offensive — it’s just really dumb.” He went on to describe numerous different ways a team could honor Native Americans without going right to skin color. This guy has also paler skin than I do, but grew up in Oklahoma in a Native family. Just demonstrates the name is inaccurate in addition to stupid.

“It’s not racist! The Redskins are named after their Indian former coach”

This ones complicated and involves draft dodging. The Redskins were founded in Boston and originally shared a field with the Boston Braves baseball team. When they moved to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, the name was changed to Redskins. Marshall was quoted at the time saying the name change was to avoid confusion with the other Native-referencing team, NOT because a coach was Native. It is also not at all clear the coach Marshall referenced, Willie “Lone Star” Deitz, was actually a Native American. Deitz was put on trial and briefly imprisoned for draft dodging WWI by claiming he was a Native American. The jury could not conclude he knowingly lied about his heritage, but a number of discrepancies in the Deitz family’s testimony, as well as his interactions with his supposed sister and her Sioux tribesmen, suggest otherwise. So not only is this origin story not true, the supposed Indian coach likely wasn’t a Native.

“There are bigger issues we should be concerned about”

The history of the United States is a road paved with Native American bones. Since coming to this continent, Europeans have cleansed Natives from their lands, reneged on treaties, massacred Native women and children, conducted biological warfare against them. Many Native Americans live today in extreme poverty, while rape and sexual violence are epidemics on reservations. These are obviously much more pressing issues than a stupid team name. But the name Redskins remains a window into an epoch (one not yet entirely over) where racism was blissfully casual and the Washington football marching band wore headdresses and played “Dixie” before the anthem. Perhaps it is a fitting name for Washington D.C.’s team after all.

June 15, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 88

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Topics: California teacher tenure ruling, Iraq-ISIS crisis. People: Bill, Persephone, Sarah, Nate.

Discussion Points:

– Why is maintaining teacher tenure and paying trained teachers more money so important?
– Just how badly did the United States screw up Iraq in 2003?

Part 1 – Teacher Tenure:
Part 1 – Teacher Tenure – AFD 88
Part 2 – Iraq/ISIS Crisis:
Part 2 – Iraq – AFD 88

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

– NYT: Judge Rejects Teacher Tenure for California
– NYT Op-Ed: Taking On Teacher Tenure Backfires
– Guardian: “US sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf as Obama considers air strikes in Iraq”
– YouTube throwback: Thomas Friedman sums up the Iraq war… (5/29/2003)
– Washington Post blog: “How can the U.S. help Maliki when Maliki’s the problem?”
– AFD: “Maybe let’s stop trying to ‘help’ Iraq for a second”

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

June 9, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 87

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Extended Episode. Topics: Right-wing extremism in the US & Europe, FIFA is terrible. People: Bill, Nate, guest expert Etienne Borocco.

Discussion Points:

– Should right-wing violence in America be considered terrorism? Should terrorism be treated differently from other crimes?
– Just how awful is FIFA? Is the World Cup a net harm to host countries and cities?
– How should Europe respond to the rise of neo-Nazi parties such as Golden Dawn?
– Who are the Front National and why are they winning in France?
– Who are the UKIP and why are the winning in Britain?

Part 1 – Nevada Attack:
Part 1 – Nevada Attack – AFD 87
Part 2 – FIFA/World Cup:
Part 2 – FIFA World Cup – AFD 87
Part 3 – Golden Dawn:
Part 3 – Golden Dawn – AFD 87
Part 4 – Etienne Borocco on French and UK Populism:
Part 4 – European Elections – AFD 87

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

– AFD Guest: “EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried” by Etienne Borocco
– AFD: “Cameron making louder “Brexit” noises after UKIP win
– Guardian: “SS songs and antisemitism: the week Golden Dawn turned openly Nazi
– AFD: “Vegas attack was domestic terrorism, tied to Bundy standoff
– AFD: “Alt-history novelists have got nothing on Cliven Bundy
– AFD: “No shock there: Bundy a raging racist
– AFD Radio: “April 21, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 81
– Last Week Tonight: John Oliver explains the mess that is FIFA
– AFD: “2022: Slavery World Cup

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

June 1, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 86

Topics: Gun control, VA scandal. People: Bill and Nate.
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Discussion Points:

– What reasonable gun control measures could be taken to reduce U.S. gun violence and accidental deaths?
– Are we being distracted from the real issues on guns?
– Should Republican Iraq War supporters in Congress be blaming the Obama Administration for a Veterans Affairs scandal they didn’t notice either?
– What can be done to improve the VA?

Part 1 – Gun Control:
Part 1 – Gun Control – AFD 86
Part 2 – VA Scandal:
Part 2 – Veteran Affairs Scandal – AFD 86

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

– David Waldman: Children 14 & Under Killed by Accidental Gunfire in 2013
– TPM: Study: U.S. Hospitals Admit 7,500 Kids A Year With Gunshot Wounds
– Buzzfeed: How The NRA Built A Massive Secret Database Of Gun Owners
– Newszap: Gun control battle continues in Delaware
– AFD: 11 fatal mass shootings in 5 months
– Chicago Tribune: U.S. violent crime down for 5th year in 2011: FBI
– Mother Jones: NRA Blames Violent Video Games for Newtown, But Partnered With Company That Makes Them
– Wired: A Biometric Gun Lock That Even the NRA Might Like
– BMJ: Gun use in the United States: results from two national surveys — Hemenway et al. 6 (4): 263
– AFD: Infographic: Iraq War vote vs. VA scandal critiques
– Mother Jones: Documents Show the VA Debacle Began Under George W. Bush
– CNN: Timeline: The VA’s troubled history
– ABC: Veterans Affairs Scandal: What You Need To Know

Subscribe

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Arsenal For Democracy 84: Interview on Nigerian History

Topics: Nigeria, Michael Sam & Jason Collins. People: Bill, Nate, Greg, and guest historian Pilar Quezzaire.
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Discussion Points:

– What is the significance and origin of the north-south divide in Nigeria? How did colonialism change the country? Who are the Boko Haram?
– Why “sharia law” is not a unique challenge. What could Nigeria be doing better to combat terrorism and unrest in the regions the Boko Haram dominate? Should the U.S. and Europe treat Boko Haram as part of a global terrorist network or more as a separate, localized problem?
– Arsenal for Nate and Greg Talking Sports: Michael Sam is drafted to the St. Louis Rams & Jason Collins has been playing for the Nets into the NBA playoffs.

Part 1 – Nigeria:
Part 1 – Nigeria – AFD 84
Part 2 – Sports: Sam / Collins
Part 2 – Sports: Sam/Collins – AFD 84

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

April 28, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 82

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Description | Topics: Israel/Palestine peace talks collapse, Egypt’s military government, the Newton MA history curriculum debate and American Islamophobia, and then a discussion of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. People: Bill, Nate, Greg, and guest Daniel Fidler.

Talking Points:

– Is Israel actually serious about achieving peace? Was Kerry wrong to use the term “apartheid”?
– Is Egypt’s military really better than the Muslim Brotherhood? What does a history curriculum debate in Newton, Massachusetts tell us about America’s wider problem of anti-Muslim attitudes?
– Then: Daniel Fidler talks about how the second Captain America movie comments on current events.

Part 1 – Israel/Palestine Talks:
Part 1 – Israel/Palestine Talks – AFD 82
Part 2 – Egypt, Islam, Curriculum:
Part 2 – Egypt, Islam, Curriculum – AFD 82
Part 3 – Daniel Fidler on Captain America 2 [HUGE Spoiler Alert]:
Part 3 – Daniel Fidler on Captain America 2 – AFD 82

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post. Additionally, there is a bonus segment this week, on Donald Sterling, in a separate post.

Related links

Read more

Arsenal for Nate and Greg Talking Sports: Donald Sterling Edition

“Let’s not tell the victims of racism that they need to act a certain way in order to not be victimized by racism. Let’s tell the perpetrators of racism that they need to stop perpetrating racism.”

red-A-198Nate and Greg wanted to talk about the Donald Sterling controversy, so we recorded a bonus segment on Monday night, which did not make it into Episode 82 for time reasons. Before it goes completely out of date, we’re releasing it here as a lightly-edited, standalone segment.

 

Discussion Points:

– Why Sterling’s housing discrimination matters a lot
– Is pro sports getting better at ejecting racists?
– Will Sterling take retribution on the NBA?
– Institutional Racism vs. Bigotry
– The global, non-white future of the NBA

Listen:
AFD 82 Bonus – Donald Sterling

Recommended readings

Melissa Beck: “Like Like Like a Red Nose”
NYT: “Clippers Support a Ban, Beginning a Transition”
AFD (Nate): “Donald Sterling is Literally Hitler”
Clutch Magazine: “When It Comes to Racism, Why Are Black People Expected to Fight It Alone?”

Not recommended

– Anything by Homeboy Sandman.

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