Carole Radziwill, Heather Thomson and Aviva Drescher have all agreed on various occasions that they are dealing with uneducated yahoos presented in the form of Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Sonja Morgan, but they joined the Real Housewives of New York anyway.
I like Carol Radziwill, but really, why did she get her panties in such a twist? No, because it was Luann, she couldn’t just let it go.
Yo, Carole: American Indian vs. Native American is all fine and good, but what do the people in question have to say about it?
Here’s what Indian Country Today (note the name) had to say about the controversy:
Yesterday, prior to the airing of the Real Housewives of New York, we looked at a debate the show’s subjects had over the terms “Native American” and “Indian”—specifically the belief held by Carole Radziwill that Native American is the proper term and Indian is “racist.”
While that strange discussion was an opportunity for us to shine a light on something that confuses some non-Indians, other moments of the scene (which you can watch at BravoTV.com) were not so teachable. Luann De Lesseps’ smacking her lips with her hand while emitting a “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo” is an insulting gesture that (to paraphrase Carole) “everyone over third grade” knows not to do.
The discussion continued:
Sonja Morgan: “But her family didn’t scalp. They only burned down your house.”
LuAnn: “Jacques always calls me his wild Indian.”
Now we’re out of the realm of semantics and back into the sadly familiar one of stereotypes. Luann de Lesseps, who herself claims Native heritage, gets credit for not suffering from Carole’s incorrect political correctness; but many Natives would not find this a pleasant scene to watch.
Her comments kick off with today’s de rigeur non-apology apology, shifting the burden to the aggrieved and taking a shot at anyone who disagrees: “If anyone thought that something I did on last night’s episode was offensive, I’m sorry. To insinuate that I am insensitive or racist is insulting and flat out, not true.”
It is too much to expect the more straightforward “I said something wrong and I’m sorry” these days—although her statement is really only about the semantic debate, not the hand gesture or “wild Indian” crack. The rest of the statement isn’t too bad, and even cites a reference book and the U.S. Census Bureau.
In a different cut, the ladies discuss “aborigines” (Sonja had to look it up): What they are (Australia, yes; Canada up for debate) and what the word means (LuAnn’s boyfriend Jacques Azoulay ventures that “it’s a kind way to say ‘savage’”).
Add another ignoramus to the mix, aborigine is just another word for “original people”.
Should any Real Housewives fans or political-correctness enthusiasts really want to address the Indigenous people of Turtle Island in their preferred manner, our advice is: Find out their tribal affiliation. The Lakota love to be called Lakota; the Apache love to be called Apache; the Choctaw love to be called Choctaw, for a simple reason: It’s what they are.
I’m sure my Seminole ancestors would approve, also. Can you get a casino license if you register as Native American? I’m sure Carole in her comfortable Manhattan apartment knows nothing about that!