Now American Indians in the great state of North Dakota have stood up for good sense and respect for their tradition. Since the NCAA's fussiness began, members of the Spirit Lake tribe of the Sioux Nation have resisted attempts at the University of North Dakota to expurgate its nickname, the Fighting Sioux. I wish the argumentative Brand were around to observe the spectacle and possibly to contemplate the nonsensical debate his meddling has caused, not only at the University of North Dakota but also at the aforementioned universities and at a dozen other colleges.
"When you hear them announce the name at the start of a hockey game (UND has an enthusiasm for hockey not unlike IU's for basketball), it gives you goose bumps," Frank Black Cloud -- not surprisingly, a Sioux -- told The New York Times. "They are putting us up on a pinnacle." Well, of course they are. Why would a university or, for that matter, a sports team adopt as a nickname or a mascot something that was not inspiring? The politically correct fussbudgets and various malcontents insist that these Indian remembrances are hostile references or somehow insulting to Indians. Actually, as anyone with any sense knows, they are acknowledgments of the tribes' dignity and original inhabitancy of the land. Extirpate their names and it is just another extirpation of their history. Doing so is what one might expect from Americans who hate the Indians, and there was a time when many Americans did. Adopting references to them is a way to honor them. Black Cloud is right.
There are many underappreciated motivations in history. As mentioned in this column some months ago, one is boredom. Certainly another is quarrelsomeness. Brand and many like him claim to high-mindedness, but au fond they are quarrelsome and enjoy stirring things up. Brand from time to time explained his actions as motivated by a love of learning, but I have reviewed his record, and though he lived much of his life in academe, there is no evidence he loved learning or was in any way learned. The two controversies I have discussed here are not even very intelligent.