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READY: Just because someone's offended doesn't mean they're right

Mary Ready | Ready or Not
Mary Ready

For those who observe the Chinese calendar, 2015 is the Year of the goat, the eighth sign of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac.

In America, 2015 is the Year of Being Offended.

Here’s a short listing of the MANY things currently offending somebody somewhere.

Remember the flap over displaying the American flag because a group of professors and student leaders at the University of California decided the sight of it may offend Muslim, Hispanic, and foreign students? Fortunately, that goofy gang lost their bid to banish Old Glory in a student body vote.

Rick Perlstein, writing for Newsweek, wants the POW/MIA flag banned because it symbolizes racial hatred. Declaring it a creation of Richard Nixon “in order to justify the carnage in Vietnam” with nothing or little to do with actual prisoners of war and their families, Perlstein states its only usefulness is “to right-wing politicians who wish to exploit hatred by calling it heritage.” He emphatically proclaims, “It’s past time to pull it down.”

The Confederate flag is a more complicated story. I understand why it symbolizes a nasty piece of history for many American citizens. I don’t agree, but I can respect their feelings. The fact is, however, America’s story is replete with shameful events, and to wipe out all traces of them is to forget the rotten things we did in the name of God and country while remembering only the golden episodes in our history. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans in the United States endured forced relocation and incarceration during World War II. Most were American citizens. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Native Americans were lied to by our government in a string of broken promises and broken treaties. Many of their descendants are understandably offended by reminders of those dark times.

Maybe I’m just insensitive, but I don’t understand what’s wrong with names like Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles, Tomahawk Missile, Apache helicopter, etc.

The owner of a family-owned restaurant serves “squaw bread,” a traditional Native American food going back to frontier days. After some patrons insisted the term was insulting to Native Americans, Keith Holloway, owner of Backstreet Restaurant in Riverside, California, ran a contest for customers to re-name the bread. But he wasn't prepared for a "vicious" backlash, with dozens of phone calls and messages criticizing his proposal as too politically correct. Thus, he’s managed to offend both segments of his customer base. Temporarily, he then changed the name to “Brown Bread.” But that offended brown-skinned customers.

In a fascinating fragment of cross-cultural misalignment, Michael Yaki, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, pressured Bravo to drop the use of “JAP,” which is a colloquialism for “Jewish-American Princess.” The network’s promos and episodes of Princesses: Long Island, about privileged young women, offended Japanese people when they heard the acronym.

Then there’s the Jewish lady who is offended by the Dewey Decimal System for not having enough sub-numbers in its 200 classification devoted to Judaism and too much emphasis on white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The Anti-Defamation League is supporting her campaign to change signage in libraries using that system.

You may have read about the removal of the Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain. Snopes.Com, an internet fact-checker, says it’s partially true. Atlanta NAACP leader Richard Rose said in an interview that the carving, which contains sculpted figures of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, should be erased. An Atlanta television interview had Rose stating they “can be sandblasted off or someone can carefully remove a slab to sell at auction to the highest bidder.” Rose told The Los Angeles Times these “symbols demonstrate people’s mindset. They mean something. There are monuments all over the South ... that were erected to … celebrate white supremacy.” Apparently, the national NAACP hasn’t said anything on this issue.

One last example of being offended, and it’s a little one. As in, little kid’s playhouse. There’s a light purple one in the backyard of Jack and Marla Stout’s home in the Raintree Lake subdivision. The Property Owners Association, offended by the color — despite having bright red, blue, green and yellow play equipment at the community’s clubhouse — has filed a civil lawsuit. Its attorney sent the Stouts a letter demanding that they dismantle their play-set, threatening a judge’s ruling could mean heavy fines or time in jail.

Is it time to wave a white flag of surrender before the growing army of THE OFFENDED? Or is a white flag a symbol of something offensive to someone out there?

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.