Students React Fiercely to…Something

File this one under the Controversies Nobody Was Complaining About department. A group of six undergrads and a graduate student calling themselves Savage Media have produced a 74-second video taking on that hobgoblin of the oppressed, the Dartmouth Indian t-shirt.

Short as it is, here are several things to be said about the video. First off, it trades on the idea that nicknames derived from American Indians are inherently offensive. This is a bit of a stretch, as just about every poll done on the matter has indicated that a significant majority of American Indians are completely fine with such nicknames or consider them an honor. A glance at the nicknames used at reservation high schools in my home state of South Dakota finds several tribal nicknames and even one school calling its teams the Redmen. While there is no need to doubt the legitimacy of the offense some take, it must be acknowledged that they are an aggrieved minority, and one can find an aggrieved minority for just about anything. There are even those out there who would be upset by my use of the term “American Indian,” even though a plurality of Indians prefer it to other possible names.

Leaving aside the video’s actual grievance, its presentation is also a touch baffling. Apparently, those who strut around in Indian t-shirts should simply be met with bafflement and sartorial vandalism, which certainly doesn’t sound like the best way to promote dialogue (and we all know how certain groups on campus love dialogue). Besides, who’s to say the man in the video isn’t an American Indian himself? The Review’s former Supreme Leader is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and looks straight out of an English period piece.


–Blake Neff