Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Embarrassing display at work

I came across a display in the conference center at work last week. The goal of the display is to show the history of the area, and ultimately how great it is to have Intel in the "Sillicon Forest."

There happens to be a quote in the display that I found disgusting. This is what I wrote in my weekly status report. Only one person responded.

"[Native American] numbers were greatly reduced by the disease and aggressive expansion visited on them by European newcomers."

This is a quote from a prominent display in the JF Conference Center. The display provides a brief history of the area (Washington county in Oregon).

I'm a bit ashamed that we (Intel) would put up something describing the history of Native Americans and so drastically minimize their loss of land, culture, and lives.

First of all, the sentence is in the passive tone. Basic writing 101 tells you not to use this, so it must have been used purposefully.

Second, there is no hint of intentionality in the sentence. The European newcomers knew exactly what they were doing when they did it.

The "disease and aggressive expansion" is further removed from the "European newcomers" by the phrase "visited on them". And, this phrase has a transient sound to it (visited - not permanent).

It would have been better had the display not mentioned the decline in Native American population at all. At least then we wouldn't be propagating the idea that the Native Americans either died off of natural diseases or were crowded out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

gee. are you sure you're the same guy who in college wore a tweetie bird t-shirt with an offensive tag line just to provoke the "pc feminists" in your house...? marriage _must_ be good for you.
; )