The next time Meet the Press wants to have Rich Lowry, conservative editor of The National Review, on the show to comment on American Indian issues, producers there might want to do a little investigation of his background.
Indian Country Today Media Network yesterday dinged Lowry for writing a column that insisted only liberals care about the Redskins name-change controversy. We noted his premise is false, as many conservatives have decried the name, and many liberals – Lanny Davis included – have staunchly supported it.
We also noted Lowry’s glib commentary on the matter on Meet the Press last weekend: “I think if you change it, you ruin the parallelism of the Cowboys/Redskin rivalry, and you can’t lose that.”
We asked Lowry for comment, by e-mail and Twitter; he never got back to us, and we thought that was the end of it.
Then someone sent us a column Lowry penned a decade ago, and we realized it was not over just yet.
“It's time to ditch the fiction of tribal sovereignty, and recognize the tribes for what they are: good, old-fashioned, all-American sleaze merchants and scam artists,” Lowry wrote for The National Review in August 2003. “They should be fully welcomed into the American family like used-car salesmen, Hollywood and telephone marketers.”
In that piece, Lowry spent a large amount of space lamenting tribal gaming, calling it an “Indian scam,” concluding, “End tribal sovereignty and perhaps Indians can begin to find ways to make money less sketchy than slot machines, and our image of Indians can again become something more noble.”
Ouch. Lowry’s feelings on American Indians obviously go beyond ignorance. He really, really doesn’t like Native Americans and tribal sovereignty.
Readers back then took many issues with Lowry’s argument, noting that many tribes are poverty-stricken, and that tribal sovereignty is a valid, federally recognized form of governance.
“Even with sovereignty, Indian nations have lost tens of thousands of acres to greedy outsiders and a fickle federal government, and the government has at times ‘terminated’ a tribe with the scratch of a pen,” noted one reader in a response to his piece, which was also published in The New York Post.
Rob Schmidt, an editor for the Indian news outlet Pechanga.net, had this to say about the conservative writer back then: “Let’s call a spade a spade. Lowry has falsely assigned qualities and attributes to a group of people by race. That makes him a racist.”
Indian Country Today Media Network, then known as Indian Country Today, also responded with an editorial, asking, “What’s acceptable about this kind of insult toward a whole people, about this self-righteous need to attack and insult a whole race?”
The new question: Did Meet the Press producers know Lowry’s true feelings on tribes and Indians when they booked him to appear on a round-table to discuss a racist term that offends Native Americans? If so, why did they book him, and should they apologize?
Producers there have not responded to requests for comment. We’ll let you know if they do.