10 March 2007

The Fonz's "Indians" ...

One might expect a long-time national news journalist and well-known anchor to be well-versed in his choices of words and adages. Yet on the March 9, 2007, edition of NBC’s Nightly News, its anchor and managing editor Brian Williams showed his ignorance or, if he’s aware of the historical context of what he said, then he gave a glimpse of his prejudice. Speaking on the “U.S. invasion in Iraq,” Williams interviewed U.S. General David Petraeus.

WILLIAMS: But it's been the crux of the anger problem for a long time in ways the people haven't realized. they [Iraqis] go from, a lot of these people had p[o]wer and water before the U.S. entered, and it's been four years. They have very little of both now. When is the cavalry coming? Is that fair to ask?
PETRAEUS: It is fair to ask. Actually, the cavalry has come and has come repeatedly. Unfortunately this is yet another area in which al-Qaida Iraq has sought to do anything it can to derail the new Iraq.
Once again, U.S. ("US") versus al-Qaida ("THEM") gets framed in historical U.S. military ("US") versus the “Indians” ("THEM") terminology. How is it that Native Peoples come to be equated with al-Qaida? (Or what about this parody of the racist minstrel song "Ten Little Indians" that replaces "Indians" with "Talibans"?) Although one can counter that Williams and Petraeus did not explicitly mention Indigenous Peoples, their references to the “cavalry” obviously imply the unmentioned. (And no, I'm not talking political correctness here. I'm talking about dis/respect. It's like times have changed, but deep-rooted mindsets have not.)

So, we at the bbb now wonder, "What would the Fonz do in response to these 'cavalry' remarks?" As a long-time non-Native Indigneous ally throughout the series Happy Days, the Fonz once said, “I don’t like the Cavalry, man. I like the Indians!” Us, too, Fonz. Us, too.
But hold your horses and hold down the fort and wait! The Fonz said in the same scene of the same episode ("Fonzie the Flatfoot," the one in which he becomes a cop and is looking for heroic inspiration to save the day), that he identified with the hero status of the Lone Ranger. Well, nevermind, Fonzie.

At least Brian Williams doesn't wear a mask when he marginalizes "Indians." Just makeup ... a hint of redface? ;)

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