The PJ Tatler

Native Americans offended at use of 'Geronimo' in bin Laden mission

Who couldn’t have seen this coming? I don’t blame them for being offended — the commando raid likely to be talked about generations from now, and the codename is the name of an Apache warrior. Native Americans, many of whom are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, are not amused.

Leaders of the Onondaga Nation blasted as “reprehensible” the code name used for Osama bin Laden in the commando assault that killed him: “Geronimo.”

“We’ve ID’d Geronimo,” U.S. forces reported by radio Sunday to the White House. Later, word came that “Geronimo” was dead.

Geronimo was an Apache leader in the 19th century who spent many years fighting the Mexican and U.S. armies until his surrender in 1886.

“Think of the outcry if they had used any other ethnic group’s hero,” the Onondaga Council of Chiefs said in a release Tuesday. “Geronimo bravely and heroically defended his homeland and his people, eventually surrendering and living out the rest of his days peacefully, if in captivity.”

“Geronimo is arguably the most recognized Native American name in the world,” the chiefs said, “and this comparison only serves to perpetuate negative stereotypes about our people.”

In all likelihood, “Geronimo” was chosen because it’s easy to say and hard to misunderstand over radio transmissions. But surely other code names could have been chosen that would have been a bit more relevant to the current war.