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Idaho Fight: Redskin Truth vs. Get Out The Vote Yellow Journalism

Teton Redskins and Yellow Journalism 

 A Warning to Idaho High School Reporters 

National Congress of American Indians Leaders Shown at "Change The Mascot" Get Out The Vote Event

As a one-time high school reporter I learned to follow a set of three professional writing standards: 

1) Reporters do not take public stands or become the news; 

2) Journalists follow facts no matter where they lead; 

3) Balanced work leads to well-informed people.

With these maxims in mind, I felt the need to examine the claims and assertions made in the Washington Post story describing that your Teton High School reporters and staff changed their long-standing name The War Cry “over concerns that the name was disrespectful to Native Americans”. Such a bold assertion left me curious on many fronts as the Post - oddly - doubled back on the claim and admitted that the staff actually found the name The War Cry as “fine”… so why did the student “journalists” change it?

Well, just below the motto “Democracy Dies in Darkness”, the Post cited an unsigned staff editorial reasoned The War Cry meaning actually changes from “fine” to ‘toxic’ when “…placed within the context of our school mascot” … and culminating in the claiming that Redskins, “…has been long acknowledged as a racial slur.”

Besides shattering the “Reporters do not take public stands or become the news” standard, one wonders if the adult adviser researched, produced and then disproved a Redskins “Null Hypothesis” – that the name is objective and has a proud history – before sacrificing War Cry to a college-application-enhancing cause célèbre just weeks ahead of a crucial community debate?

Moreover if the staff really feels their school name “…has been long acknowledged as a racial slur” why did those who managed a paper wait until the Presidential campaign season to finally act? And how did a tiny Idaho school gain the attention and an amazingly well-timed national article out of D.C.? Perhaps, like renaming the paper, it was all timed to influence a sleepy town’s opinion just ahead of a crucial community meeting?

Answers to these occurrences were found in an investigation conducted at another native-themed school. The story starts with a New York Times analysis using Center for American Progress’ (CAP) assertion – an organization directed by the DNC’s John Podesta - that the Democratic Party needed to jettison their white “working class” voters and replace them with low-income or “down-scale” minority voters in order win back power. To fulfill this goal, CAP is attempting to “empower” 4.7 million Indian voters by - in part - leading in an attack of hundreds of native-themed public schools in the run up to the 2020 Presidential election.

And while those behind this insidious strategy have been thwarted at many schools by passionate volunteers and civil rights groups such as the Native American Guardian’s Association, they have managed to take many expensive scalps where an average name change costs anywhere between $300-to-$700,000. 

Worse yet, these CAP-led victories are essentially socializing the costs and privatizing the gains of one Party’s campaign on the backs of taxpayers who have consistently been 70-to-87% against name changes yet are forced to do so by uninformed – or worse yet – activist school board members.

This exact scenario played out in Cedar City, Utah, where Party oriented school board members were caught on audio recording months ahead of any community outreach and meetings not discussing if they would change their Redman name as representatives, but instead “how” they would force name change no matter the desires of the town or the evidence presented. After losing the Redmen symbol 3-to-2, one of the predetermined “changer” representatives resigned nearly immediately after being identified in the recordings. Either way, the town and student body is devastated and grades there continue their precipitous decline.

And to help draw first blood, the campaign is quietly providing CAP Anti “Mascot” Campaign Training binders to Party devotees, activists and willing school board members who live within “white” school districts while Native American “Redskin” schools are not targeted. But how can a campaign bent on labeling a name as a “racial slur” – attack only one group and not the other? Well, that would have been a great and appropriate question for The War Cry journalists to tackle.

In closing I offer advice and support to those students still clinging to hope of providing objective journalism on the topic. 

There’s still time to provide facts - no matter where they lead - and balanced work ahead of the July school board meeting. Should you wish to capture real Native side of this debate, I will introduce you to leaders who represent the journalistically under-serviced 90% who are “not offended”. You would be invited to meet those who fear further losses of Native honorifics, names and imagery and believe that mindless ‘do good’ efforts - such as your summary execution of The War Cry –prove the existence of a political-to-social power strategy designed to belittle, demean and sacrifice important traditions, culture and names - honored for 100s of years. 

These were tactics once used to gain and hold land but now are being used to gain electoral power.

Finally, leading a ballyhooed Party sponsored name change may likely provide you the “tipping point” in being accepted to a coveted Liberal Arts College – you must know your personal anti-Redskins gain will absolutely leave a once-peaceful town without their unifying identity and in financial and social shambles for years. 

This is a guarantee, it happens every time in every town that succumbs to the lure of virtue signaling. Yet for the intellectually curious the evidence is out there if you simply take time to look. You have to make a choice as the real social justice warriors – like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse – both called Redskins, fought like hell to maintain the “Red” traditions and pass them along to both white and red children.

Andre’ Billeaudeaux is a retired military journalist who once worked in and around Idaho. His journal-published research covers topics such as National Identity, Politics and Mass Media. He’s a Pennsylvania State Commission Redskin “Expert” and the author of a book entitled: How the Redskins Got their Name which embodied the arguments featured in a First Amendment Federal Court Amicus Brief co-sponsored by the four-time Navajo Nation President and Medal of Honor U.S. Marine Corps “Code Talker” Peter MacDonald and other key national Native leaders. Together, these individuals share deep concerns that Native American traditions are on a slippery slope towards cultural extinction.

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