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On 2021-02-22, the AP tweeted about how Jeep named their vehicles Cherokee, which is supposed to "honor Native Americans." If you take it at face value, it doesn't make much sense, does it? Someone being offended by an honor?! Preposterous! And there are Apache attack helicopters. So what gives?
As it turns out, if we think for a bit we can begin to understand. Imagine something that is antithetical to your beliefs. Let's pretend that Hitler is still alive. And let's pretend that Adolf Hitler gives you a ring on your telephone and says, "Hello! Zis is the Furher speaking. We have created zees award for you. We have renamed our panzer tanks to YOUR_NAME tanks. We just wanted to let you know."
How do you feel, now that you have such a prestigious honor? I mean, your name will be attached to Nazi's forever! Your name will be behind killing many innocent people. Sounds amazing, right? Can you imagine telling your family how proud you are that the enemy of the free world has chosen you for such an honor? Will you be going to work tomorrow bragging about it? Or maybe not?
Forget the Nazi's. It's not about the group or ideas you find offensive. Just that there exists a group doing something with your name that you don't agree with. And just because they call it an honor, you're supposed to let them do what they want.
That is what's happening here. Nobody asked the Cherokee people if they would like to be honored by having their name attached to an automobile. I'm guessing that nobody even bothered to check with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, unlike the U.S. Army.
Jeep is exploiting a people that have historically been exploited. Maybe it's just their name that's being exploited, but that doesn't make it OK. It's still exploitation, and it's still a horrible thing to do. And I'm betting not a single dollar from the sales of the Jeep Cherokee ever saw their way to social programs benefiting the Cherokee people. What kind of honor uses your name but gives you nothing in return? That's the same kind of garbage line people use when they're trying to get you to work for free — oh sorry, "exposure."
Doing something to someone without their consent is never OK. It's terrible when doing it to a single person, and it's terrible doing it to a group of people. It's time for Jeep to stop using the Cherokee name for their vehicles. There's no shortage of words that they can use to describe their vehicles that do not exploit anyone else, regardless of intent.
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