Codename: Geronimo—The Blogosphere Reacts

ICTMN Staff
5/5/11

As you might expect, the flap over the use of Geronimo as a codename in the mission to kill Osama bin Laden has generated a lot of discussion on blogs. Some of it intelligent, but some not. Here are a few that caught our eye:

annieais101, "Osama Bin Laden is Nicknamed 'Geronimo'":

Putting a warrior hero in the same category as the most wanted terrorist? Someone please tell me this is a joke… I guess kids aren’t the only ones who need to take history classes.

bumpkey1, "A Victory for All?":

I just cannot get over how bizarre this whole situation is. This sounds like a broken record, but seriously, why use this particular person’s name? The last twenty-five years have brought about a lot of uproar over mascots representing hostile portrayals of Indians. The American public was obviously going to receive the nitty-gritty details of the raid because Americans need to stick their nose into everything. With this in mind, it looks very bad on the presidential administration and military for sticking with this moniker for Bin Laden. This situation is probably more relavent to American Indian studies than anything else I’ve blogged about. How Congress and President Obama perform damage control on this situation could really make or break relations with the Indigenous people of the United States.

bearroombrawl, "I Think I’ve Been Proven Right Already….":

Our paratroopers seem to have forgotten the details of the war and any atrocities Geronimo committed. They used his name because whatever else you want to call him he was a brave warrior and a tough fighter and our paratroops wanted to emulate him in that regard. So it is actually the exact opposite of what these clowns think. “Devastating” and “Inappropriate” indeed. When we stop celebrating the military prowess of Native Americans by eliminating all references to warriors, braves and chiefs the natives will be completely invisible and totally forgotten.

A blogger in Spain, "Geronimo was the right name for bin Laden":

I imagine that the only thing that makes really different this Western film to others is that in this case the one in command this time is a black man. That’s the only difference. Anyway, the Indians in the US must know, that for the one writing this back in Europe, they are the only truly genuine Americans. The other just come from Europe or Africa. And now it seems that whether of European or African origen they continue insulting the natives of America: THE INDIANS! All my love to the natives of America. Shame on the ones who torture in Guantánamo and afterwards they murder in Pakistan. That’s not justice. That’s the Wild West. And you have gone so far as even insulting Geronimo. Shame on you! If I could go back time and I was in America I am sure I would have fought with the Indians.

Rez Ramblings, "Geronimo or Bin Laden hmmm":

Bin Laden shot and killed by Navy Seals. Some do not believe and some do not like they used Geronimo as a code word. It does not surprise me because after all American Indians endured, we still have the best and bravest leaders the world has seen. Geronimo, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Gall, Joseph, Red Cloud and the list can go on and on. I do not really care what they called this Bin Laden guy because he was a man who declared war on the United States or the West. I thought it was funny because he was living in a Million Dollar Compound surrounded by retired Pakistani military people. It was a suburb. And the jokes kept coming about living in a cave.

A.R. Ward, "Navy Seals are Heroes, Geronimo Was Not"

In the age of being offended at everything, it is no surprise that this is what is troubling people. The code naming of bin Laden probably had more to do with Geronimo being one of the more famous outlaws that evaded the US Military for decades, not any direct comparisons of the actual person. ... There is no comparison between Geronimo and bin Laden, but Geronimo was no one to look up to. He was blood thirsty, extremely violent, and cared about nothing but war. It is perfectly reasonable to dislike Geronimo, but love Native Americans in general. The accusation that the modern US military is “Anti-Native American” is absurd if your paying any attention. Native Americans are referenced in the military for dozens of things, most of the time positively. The US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division proudly displays a Native American warrior on its unit patch. Most modern helicopters are named after Native American tribes. There was even a Marine Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan named Geronimo.

Brian's Blog, "What's in a Codename?":

When you see a Native American sports mascot with a tomahawk, you are seeing a relic piece of war propaganda, justifying State Sponsored Genocide against Native Americans and an easement of our guilt for causing the greatest and deadliest plague epidemic in the history of the world. Once you understand that, only then will you see why sports mascots, Apache helicopters, and Operation Geronimo are offensive.

Newspaper Rock, "Bin Laden codenamed Geronimo":

How about naming one of our sports teams the "Al Qaeda Terrorists"? Too soon?
Eventually, we should "honor" them for valiantly fighting for what they believe in, right?
I guess this explains why Obama didn't talk about national security at the first tribal summit. The whole "Bin Laden as Geronimo" thing might not have gone down well.

Matt Thompson at the anthropology blog Savage Minds, "Codename Geronimo":

Giving Bin Laden the code name 'Geronimo' rises out of the need to address the ambivalence Americans have over the value of the current war. By imbuing it with Indians the war is legitimated but it is also made comprehensible. The current war is made legible in terms of previous wars. In fact, the ideology of American/ Indian martial conflict and the contradictory imagery of Indians as Us and Not-Us plays itself out, over and over again, in every American military conflict. This is part of American culture and shows how we make war make sense.

Freedom Eden, "Osama Codename Geronimo":

Nice that in death they treat this evil, evil man, killer of thousands of innocents, with such respect but don't give a thought to giving him a code name that could offend Native Americans. Good grief, it's considered offensive to use Native American names for school teams in Wisconsin. Even positive images are deemed inappropriate. But call the epitome of evil, Osama bin Laden, "Geronimo." No problem.

Osama bin Laden = Geronimo. Why isn't that politically incorrect? Obama has some explaining to do. Maybe he can hold a Beer Summit with some Native American leaders.

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