Rick Santorum, a CNN conservative talking head, was canceled by that network for saying Indians aka Native Americans “contributed nothing” to America. (Courtesy photo)

By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

Rick Santorum, a CNN conservative talking head, was canceled by that network for saying Indians aka Native Americans “contributed nothing” to America. 

“We birthed a nation from nothing,” the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania told a Young America’s Foundation gathering last month. “I mean there was nothing here. I mean yes, we have Native Americans here, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

Speaking candidly, once again Santorum revealed himself as a coward or a smart person impersonating a dummy. I’ll explain later. 

So, Indians contributed nothing to American culture? How does Santorum explain Indiana, an entire state named after Indians, and includes Indianapolis, its state capitol and metropolis? 

Other state names with Native American roots include Illinois , Minnesota [Land of a Thousand Lakes, note the pretty Indian woman offering the popular butter] and Ohio and its Miami Indians, a reminder of the Tiamiami tribe/nation. There’s Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska too. 

Indeed, the Midwest drops many Indian clues. Utah has its university named after the Ute tribe, and Kansas, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota owes its names to being Indian country.

How about these East Coast Indian names: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, the latter linked to the Lenni Lenape nation.

In the Deep South: Florida, Spanish-rooted state name and home of Tiamiami Indians and Seminoles. Georgia with its Cherokees, driven off the land by White settlers and sent off to Oklahoma, not a state yet, but Indian country, until invading settlers took most of the land back. 

Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa? Doesn’t sound White, because they are Indian/Native American names.

OK, here are the White, English-rooted state names: New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Louisiana, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island. 

There is the Northwest state of Washington too, however its biggest city is named after Chief Seattle, Spanish-rooted state names include Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada.

Hawaii and Alaska are the homes of indigenous Indian/Asian peoples.

I have done a roll call of nearly all of the 50 U.S. states. I won’t finish because I’m sure you get the point. 

Yes, I called Rick Santorum a coward because when he ran for president in 2012, during the Iowa primary Santorum thought it was safe to generally disparage all Black people while standing in the white-as-snow state. Santorum said he “doesn’t want to make Black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” i.e. Medicaid or welfare. 

The crowd roared as Santorum threw out tired canards from the 1970s. Welfare was reformed in the early 90s, initiated by Democrats, and was a nonissue. 

A Black woman in Iowa at another 2012 primary event confronted Santorum about his racial dog whistle. The senator was appropriately flummoxed. Like cowards usually are.

Wayne Dawkins is a writer, and a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

Every time I would see Santorum on CNN in his role as smooth-talking Trump apologist, I remembered his cowardice in Iowa and wondered, that incident should have disqualified him from the public square. 

Well, Santorum just took himself off the field, not because of so-called “cancel culture,” but from his mean-spirited, recklessly ignorant words about Native Americans.

The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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