By on June 24, 2013

Picture courtesy MyFolderz

When Jeep introduced the new-for-2014 Cherokee, the cute-ute’s polarizing styling, Eurotrash underpinnings, and front-wheel-drive base configuration immediately sent the autoblogosphere into a violent tizzy. Much of the criticism seemed to be engendered by the use of the name “Cherokee”, which is associated in the name of the average Jeep fan with the time-tested, AMC-era XJ Cherokee. (It should be noted, however, that Jalopnik has already decided the new Cherokee is superior to the old one.) Had Chrysler used the name “Liberty”, which is primarily associated with dorky-looking uranium-dense crapwagons leaking oil in traffic, or “Patriot”, which is primarily associated with the Dodge Caliber, much of the initial agitation might not have happened.

That’s all car-geek inside baseball, however. In the real world, meaning Manhattan, what really matters isn’t crawl ratio or wind noise or durability — it’s identity-based politics. It’s a surprise, then, that the New York Times has taken this long to uncover the critical feature of the new small Jeep: it’s all racist and whatnot.

Those of us who have been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to attend university in the past twenty or so years know that some large part of the modern post-secondary educational apparatus is devoted to old white men earnestly bleating on about black people and womyn and transgenders and whatnot. Without the intervention of these wise old Caucasians (are we allowed to say enlightened, or is that a skin-color value-judgement trigger event?) the average black person or womon or transgender individual would probably be too busy watching “Mad Men” or playing Candy Crush Saga to realize when his/her/their rights, identities, feelings, or heritage is being disrespected. It’s therefore critical that the SWPL spiritual leaders of the minority communities stay vigilant at all times. Without their intervention, Paula Deen would still be on television. The fact that you can turn on the Food Network and see more of Giada De Laurentitis or that sexy little Cat Cora and not have to look at some ugly old expired bag means that a true blow has been struck for diversity and against ageism. I think. I’m still a little fuzzy on that part.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Jeep Cherokee. Someone apparently told white guy Glenn Collins that Jeep’s been naming an SUV of some sort after a Native American tribe for the last forty years. Presumably there are no Jeep Cherokees in Manhattan. I know I’ve never seen one. Mr. Collins immediately leapt into SWPL action, contacting the Cherokee tribe to see what they think about this racist act.

The company says it respects changed attitudes toward stereotyping. “We want to be politically correct, and we don’t want to offend anybody,” Mr. Morrison said. Regarding the Cherokee name, he added: “We just haven’t gotten any feedback that was disparaging.”

Well, here’s some: “We are really opposed to stereotypes,” said Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name. “We have encouraged and applauded schools and universities for dropping offensive mascots,” she said, but stopped short of condemning the revived Jeep Cherokee because, “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”

In other words: We don’t care about it, you old white man, and we think your time would be better spent agonizing about truffles or font choice. The Cherokee Nation itself is busy participating in disaster relief and improving tribal access to healthcare.

Mr. Collins must have been absolutely shocked that the people he calls “American Indians” are unwilling to drop everything and march on Toledo (a name that, I must add, was stolen from the Spaniards) to protest Jeep’s newest trucklet. I wonder if he saw himself as a potential leader of the movement, standing hand-in-hand with the American Indian girl from “Banshee” (who is really a Cuban-American) and the Crying Indian (who was just a regular white guy in real life). I’ve written a brief script for this scenario.

The scene is the TOLEDO PLANT. A mass of Native Americans a hundred people wide and ten thousand people long marches towards the ancient Jeep plant. Blocking their way is a ZOMBIE BULL CONNOR, a ZOMBIE ADOLF HITLER, and JEWISH COMEDIAN MICHAEL RICHARDS. The people come to a halt. NOLA LONGSHADOW turns to GLENN COLLINS.

NOLA: It’s up to you, Great White Father.

GLENN COLLINS: I shall return honor to your ancestors with my actions. (Shouting) UNTIL YOU REMOVE THE SCOURGE UPON MY ADOPTED PEOPLE, THE EARTH SHALL WEEP!

ZOMBIE BULL CONNOR: Turn the hoses on that race traitor!

ZOMBIE ADOLF HITLER: Who was supposed to bring the hoses?

JEWISH COMEDIAN MICHAEL RICHARDS: Why am I even here? I said one stupid thing. ONE STUPID THING! And I was trying to make a point about race relations!

ZOMBIE BULL CONNOR: It’s too late for that. You’re part of our team now, although it personally offends me to make common cause with an Israelite.

JEWISH COMEDIAN MICHAEL RICHARDS: Okay, then, I’ll get the hoses.

SERGIO MARCHIONNE: (Appearing out of nowhere) Native people of America, I have heard your plea and I have been persuaded by the eloquence of the white man you have chosen to lead you. Never again shall we call this cute-ute the Jeep Cherokee. Instead, we will use a name that reflects this Jeep’s ability to endure all sorts of conditions.

ZOMBIE ADOLF HITLER: Mein Gott, the Italians always fold.

NOLA LONGSHADOW: Great White Father, you did it!

GLENN COLLINS: Without me, you would not have known you were being disrespected, because you were too busy off-roading in Jeep Grand Cherokees.

SERGIO MARCHIONNE: Ladies and Gentlemen, and Zombies, I give you: THE RENAMED JEEP… FIREWATER!

(A monstrous banner flutters down from the side of the Jeep plant, showing a new Jeep Firewater with tribal beads painted on the doors.)

CRYING INDIAN GUY: That’s awesome.

GLENN COLLINS: (sputtering) Noooooo! You’ve made it worse!

SERGIO MARCHIONNE: Say “How” to the Brave-st little Jeep to ever dance in the rain!

NOLA LONGSHADOW: I like it.

GLENN COLLINS: You’re not supposed to like it! Don’t you people know…

ROBERT DOWNEY JR.: What do you mean, “you people”?

FINIS

Mr. Collins does make a valid point in the second page of his click-friendly article, however: it’s likely that the proliferation of alphabet soup nomenclature is due at least in part to the fact that a name like “MKZ” or “MKS” or “MDX” or “ML350″ is completely identity-politics compatible, and therefore completely inoffensive to white university professors, and therefore totally cool to use.

Until, of course, the day comes that we meet the aliens, and it turns out that they’re all named “S63 AMG”.

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101 Comments on “The New York Times Consults A Cherokee About The Cherokee...”


  • avatar

    I can think of worse things to name it than “Cherokee”. The Cherokee vehicle is a pretty hard-working, decently-built, somewhat iconic vehicle. I don’t think it provides any insult to those of Cherokee descent.

    Besides, these names are arbitrary. Does anyone actually believe that the GMC Yukon is better in severely cold weather than the Dodge Durango?

  • avatar

    That last point is pretty sad. It would be nice to see cars with names again.

    And I laughed out loud at it, too :)

    D

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    This guy seriously needs to go fuck himself. Sorry for the bluntness and abruptness and course language, but there is no better way for me to express MYself than to tell this ‘writer’ to go find a job.

    What does Glenn have to say about the US Army’s history of ‘appropriating’ indian tribe names for helicopters?

    Seriously. Guy needs to go back to blending frappes.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Did you click thru to read the piece? Because I did and I found it totally lacking in PC moral outrage over the use of the name Cherokee. Mostly he just pondered the potential downsides to giving a product a name with ethnic or identity associations, including Scotsman, Viking and Tomboy. In fact, I sensed a certain level of snark in his writing about the need for concern over such PC sensitivity, so I can’t really figure out why Jack is so wound up over the piece. Makes me wonder if Jack even read it or just heard that something had been written about the subject in the NYT and assumed that it must be ripping Chrysler for their insensitivity.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        ++

        Didn’t see anything particularly didactic in Collins article and I’m always ready to hate on pontificating libs.

        Besides, the guy writes for the NYT Dining section… how tiny a bush will JB beat for some game?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Don’t forget: The pickup truck version of the original Cherokee was the… Commanche–another Native American nation. I don’t seem to recall that they had any issue with it. If you ask me, it honors those nations and keeps their name alive when all others would forget it.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “it’s likely that the proliferation of alphabet soup nomenclature is due at least in part to the fact that a name like “MKZ” or “MKS” or “MDX” or “ML350″ is completely identity-politics compatible, and therefore completely inoffensive to white university professors, and therefore totally cool to use.”

    Ahh so that’s why university parking lots are filled with cars with ambiguous alpha-numeric names from mostly foreign brands. They’re tryig to prove they aren’t racist…I get it.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Jack,
    Superb satire! Great work.

  • avatar

    Why would anyone think that FIAT that owns Chrysler would know the meaning of anything to do with the American Indian?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Memo to Jeep: Stop pussyfooting around and just name it the Indians like my favorite baseball team. Perhaps the top trim level could be called “Warrior”.

    On a less sarcastic note: WTF? We really need to get over ourselves.

  • avatar
    crm114

    They’re not real Cherokees, the whole thing was shot in Italy.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    It’s bad enough that campus-cloistered open wounds like Collins are using the Cherokees as a vehicle for their attention needs, but his article is pretty conclusive proof that members of the left have given up on pretending to believe their own bull pucky. Calling his intended minions American Indians is hilarious. This is a dual insult to the local indigenous peoples. America was named for Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian dude. Indian is what Christopher Columbus, another Italian dude, called the locals because he meant to go to India and he had a profound case of functional fixedness. So Collins, piece of O***a that he is, calls his desired offended groups by two names that are a direct affront to any desired identity they might have while pointing his finger at yet another Italian for naming what is meant to be a desired consumer good in honor of the Cherokees! He’s going to be very upset if he ever pulls his head out of his small intestine and notices all the Grand Cherokees insensitive people already drive.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Well but the Smithsonian has named their latest museum the “The Museum of the American Indian.” A friend of mine who belongs to the Laguna Pueblo tribe has some of her art on display there.

      My point? Apparently “American Indian” (regardless of the absurdity of it and I have lived in the Southwest for 10+ years) is the new PC term.

    • 0 avatar

      I interviewed the top American Indian MD in the country, Yvette Roubideaux, who grew up on the reservation, and is now head of Indian Health. American Indians is what she calls her people.

      On a lighter note, the Firewater is my best laugh of the month so far. But if it fails, they could change the name to the General Custer.

    • 0 avatar
      J.Emerson

      I think this just confirms my suspicion that far more (fake) outrage is stirred by conservatives fearful of a “PC industry” than the “PC industry” itself creates. Reading the article, it seems clear to me that Mr. Collins was trying to make a point about the evolution of automobile marketing in general, not shop around for “outrage” over the use of the Cherokee name. His point is that every choice of a known word for a vehicle name has a chance to backfire, especially if it appropriates a group identity. That’s why he used so many examples of questionable monikers, relatively few of which came from marginalized groups.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Speaking of the intellect of the NYT universe, while reading the article I had a survey pop up on their site. It asked which brands of cars have electric engines.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I always hated when people would say what a great motor was in their car…I’d ask if they were referring to the starter. Talk about blank looks. Kinda like when somebody would say “cement truck”. I’d ask if they would like some aggregate with that…more blank looks.

  • avatar
    ash78

    The only possible racist connotation I could imagine would be if a guy carjacked a Cherokee in North Carolina and forced the driver to go to Oklahoma without a break. Maybe the new V6 diesel could handle it, but still. The imagery is what matters.

    As a point of comparison, Piper Aircraft has been building planes for 75-some-odd years, almost all of them named after Native American tribes. I’ve never even heard a tinge of a complaint because it’s supposed to be an honor or a tribute. Only bedwetting ultra-leftists would think this way.

    (however, I can definitely see issues with some sports teams, namely the Redskins)

  • avatar
    BeyondBelief

    When the “Previa” came out I was encouraged that car names based on pregnancy complications would be vogue but now we’re back to the Injun thing. Pity.

    Question, apropos of little: Is a black man born and raised in London walking down a New York street an “African-American”? Discuss.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Back when I was teaching in Detroit (the only white male teacher in a school of 1,200 K – 8th grade students) the Principal opined: “These kid’s grandparents were colored, their parents were African-American, and if you ask them they’re just Black.”

      My attitude is you are whatever you call yourself. My wife may have a certificate of Indian blood (yea that’s what its called) and she may have 1/8 Japanese in her but she’s roughly 50%+ Spanish/Mexican so she considers herself Latina. You are what you make yourself.

      Me I’m just an American whose ancestors happen to have been Swiss and German.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Only until he speaks.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        A BBC-addict likes this comment.

        And I once had a black professor born in Germany teaching a class in Japanese. Blew my little working-class mind.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      1. I’d love to have owned a Toyota dealership in the LA area, I could have “Placentia Previa” badged across the back.

      2. The Brits often roll their eyes at us. They have “black” and “white” people, plus nationalities where appropriate. I’ve never heard or read “Anglo-African” used. America is sort of unique in that we often self-identify according to our ancestors. “Hey, he’s Italian” means something totally different here vs in most of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      MK

      Not sure but I think we can all agree that someone is being oppressed!

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Personally, I’m still waiting for my Honda Rodan.
      (I hear it’s big in Japan.)

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    The Seminole tribe seems to be pretty happy with Florida State University. Maybe if Fiat/Chrysler makes the Cherokee a damn good car, the Cherokee Nation will celebrate the monthly sales records.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Funny, when the NCAA tried to make FSU change the Seminole Nation lobbied otherwise. Turns out that on top of the positive relationship between the school and the tribe that the Seminole Nation gets a cut of the merchandise sales so they were not to keen on a name change for the school.

  • avatar
    carinator

    “But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name.”

    Uh, that would be not “trademarked.”

    If the NY Times wants to learn about trademarks, perhaps they can go ask the Seminole Tribe how much money they make selling out to the paleface on Florida State football memorabilia.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    No such thing as bad publicity. Expect more cars with ethnic names. Like Chrysler New Yorker which is surely to offend Mr Collins.

  • avatar
    MK

    I’m more pissed that they named it after the original SUV, the XJ Cherokee. Solid axles, time tested design, rugged, cheap and peppy, pretty much everything this isn’t. It was damned near the mythical brown station wagon with a manual…except this one actually sold well.

    Kinda reminds me of all the bs that surrounded Florida State, who were surprised that the ncaa thought they should be offended. especially since most of the tribe were fans and proud supporters.

    NYT is so culturally cocooned it’s ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      We all know that the NCAA has no problem with “Fighting Irish.” Their indignation is solely on behalf of American Indians/Native Americans/whatever the term is now.

      If I made the decision for a school with an “Indians” mascot and was told to change it by the NCAA, I would have instead changed any associated images to the Asian sub-continent variety.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The Jeep Commander suppresses the self-empowerment of women!
    The Ferrari California excludes people in other states!
    The Mini Paceman offends people with eyes!

  • avatar

    Jack, at least Lincoln learned its lesson with Blackwood, whose connotation is at once racist and sexual.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    I am a Patriotic American. Yet nobody consulted me about the “Patriot”. I am upset, and will remain so until I receive one. Or a shoebox full of $20 bills. Or something. Damnit, I AM OFFENDED!

  • avatar
    rolladan

    Pontiac Aztek for the win!

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    +1 on the Tropic Thunder reference. Somewhere Simple Jack is weeping softly.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    SERGIO MARCHIONNE: Ok, Mr. Collins. We’ll rename the Cherokee. And since you are so self-aware of these types of social issues, I expect you’ll be donating your “land” to these proud people and moving back to the county of your ancestors. I would hate to think you would continue this nation’s history of heavy-handed imperialism over the original keepers of the continent.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Good Point…Maybe he’d like to give his stylish Manhattan loft to some of these offended Cherokee in exchange for some nice beads.

      • 0 avatar
        carrya1911

        I’m 1/4 Cherokee, on the big list and everything. In college I always got a kick out of those trying to make points based on cruelty to the American Indian.

        I’d let them rabbit on for a bit, agree with them entirely, and then bring up reparations. Invariably they agreed.

        “Great! Then give me your house, paleface.”

        That usually ended the conversation.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Hey! I better get my 40 acres and mule while they’re handing sh1t out!

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Let us not get into a smelly Obamahuff about the NYT. It’s yesterday, deceased, gone, expired. No one above room temp IQ gives it a bother anymore.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Speaking of lame alphanumeric naming and its effects, if you don’t think that Acura’s TSX and RSX create subliminal responses to the word “Sex,” then you need to bone up on your psych and/or marketing coursework.

    Hehehehe, bone up.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Apache, Blackhawk, Comanche, Kiowa, Chinook, Sioux and Iroquois are all names of helicopters. I don’t suppose Mr Glenn Sissypants of the New York Times will be going after the Army to rename them.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I think they could rename it the Jeep “Redneck” and see if anyone comes running to their unsolicited defense… or does GM have the rights to that name under the old Firebird marquis?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    These kinds of arguments always struck me as perverse. If someone names a sports team after X, then, to that someone, X is associated with qualities prized in a sports team: determination, skill, strength, teamwork, etc.

    So, please tell me why this is a problem?

    Even the Arkansas razorbacks are a special kind of pig, right?

    Heck, the University of Pennsylvania sports teams call themselves “Quakers.” Now that’s a puzzle, but they’re still Quakers.

    OTOH, the Dartmouth College teams used to be known as “Indians,” but, of course that had to go Dartmouth being an Ivy school and with the rise of PC. So they are now the “Big Green.” Big Green what? Big Green slime? This doesn’t work for me; “green” is an adjective, not a noun. Putting “the” in front of it doesn’t change the situation, IMHO.

    Of course, Washington’s long-suffering baseball team called itself the “Senators,” which, presumably was not a term of disrespect, although it became uncomfortably accurate, as neither the team nor the real Senators accomplished too much.

    OTOH, the Baltimore (basketball) Bullets . . . well, considering Baltimore’s crime rate, that was a little too close to home. The Bullets moved to DC and, as we know, DC’s crime rate is a shadow of its former self . . . so the new name, “Wizards” seems appropriate!

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      I see your Big Green and raise you University of North Texas Mean Green.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        There’s also the Stanford Cardinal (whose mascot is a pine tree). A team named for a color doesn’t seem too unusual when you start looking at that sort of thing.

        However, it still bugs me how Bowling Green doesn’t use green as one of their colors. Just to screw with us, they probably don’t have a bowling team, either.

      • 0 avatar
        CamryStang

        While North Texas calls itself the Mean Green, eagles are everywhere; the logo, the mascot, statues, buildings, etc.

        They’re the Mean Green Eagles, except the Eagles is silent. Lol

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Green Slime is one of my all time favorite b-movies. I would be proud to ball for the Green Slime.

    • 0 avatar

      Dartmouth’s Ivy rival Cornell is the “Big Red” and has been for many decades, though their mascot is a bear. Go figure. I don’t think the bears complained.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I just read the Glenn Collins article and I have to say that the red-faced fussing and b!tching over it is puzzling. Sure, the very question of whether the Jeep Cherokee is possibly offensive to the tribe is perhaps a question no one really needed to ask, but Collin’s article is far from a PC witch hunt. It largely focuses on marketing campaigns from past decades that would almost universally be considered tasteless now, and how the current Cherokee marketing strategy is devoid of it. So what are you people upset about?

    Did any of you folks read it, or was the title and Jack’s second-hand translation just the jumping-off point you were looking for to engage in a little self-congratulatory rhetorical self-stimulation? There are several commenters above who appear to be just as sensitive as the wussy PC leftists they scream about, and are similarly wandering around looking for anything upsetting.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Things like this (PC) have a tendency to go too far and usually do. The PC police are everywhere reminding us to be overly sensitive to everyone’s feeling’s to the point where it becomes difficult to go through a day without upsetting someone’s sensitivities about something. So, we were having a little fun at the prospect of someone NOT be offended by something others think they should be offended by.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Oi Si yo.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Great article… LOL

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    “Eurotrash?” How many of you writers are going to use this word this week?

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Great piece.

    I have fond memories of my beater Comanche (truck, not wife).
    Chrysler should bring the Comanche back – but I doubt they have a platform / design to live up to the name…

  • avatar
    gottacook

    When Michael Richards had his famous onstage incident 5 or 6 years ago, at first I thought “Oh, great, another shonda for the goyim” – i.e., a Jew who did something shameful – but then learned that actually he’s not Jewish. So who this “JEWISH COMEDIAN MICHAEL RICHARDS” is supposed to be, Jack, I don’t know.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Oh si yo. The Cherokee have been far and away the most successful of the original pre-Columbian native American nations. Ask a Cherokee? Get serious. There are about a dozen separate tribes. The Cherokee number almost two million persons.


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