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From Leo Simons <>
Subject Re: Why I am opposed to retaining the name Geronimo, and why I consider this VOTE to be biased.
Date Thu, 18 Dec 2003 14:00:59 GMT
I've tried to keep my mouth shut on this for the most part, but that's 
becoming real hard. I'll promise to restrict myself to one message :D. 
Note I've moved around bits and pieces in Danny's original e-mail and 
also cut some parts out.

Biased Vote
Danny Angus wrote:
> Responding to comments made about noise on the VOTE thread, and the
> importance of acheiving a reasonable majority for one position over another
> (in order to make the decision clearly mandated) I would like to express my
> opinions regarding the name and the vote.
> 1/ With regard to the vote it appears to me that a vote proposing that we
> either retain the status-quo or opt for an as yet unknown new option will
> always be biased in favour of the status-quo.


> I would contend that this issue would have been more fairly decided had a
> nomination process been held for potential alternative names.

...but disagree here. There was a community for this apache-hosted j2ee 
thing before the name was chosen, and that community did make a choice, 
probably using some kind of consensus-based process. I think it is fair 
to bias new decisions based on decisions previously reached. Call it 
"backwards compatibility" if you will.

Nevertheless, I think it is better to focus on satisfying needs and 
finding consensus than on "fairness", especially when the "fairness" we 
talk about is democracy-style and not meritocracy-style. Is it "fair" to 
disregard the choice of the original group that started this project?

<this bit moved from elsewhere/>
 > 3/ On a practical level the current name is causing division, we
 > should be seeking to unite opinion in one way or another, and not
 > pre-empt concesus by holding a vote before the community has had time
 > to reach broad agreement.

Sometimes, it is good to recognize that it is not possible to arrive at 
a broad consensus. I believe that is the case here: I think there's 
quite a few people strongly against keeping the "geronimo" name, and 
quite a few people strongly in favor. In situations like that, a way to 
move forward should be sought. A vote is one such way.

As an aside, I don't think it is neccessarily against the "apache way" 
to conduct this vote now as it is being conducted. One thing I've 
learned about the apache way is that it should not be used as an 
argument. Rather, we should use the arguments behind the "apache way" 

Sensitivity of using the "Geronimo" name
I got so annoyed with not knowing any facts surrounding all this that I 
spent a few hours surfing. Here's the first and last say I'll have on 
the subject.

> 2/ With regard to the name itself I believe that it would be an expression
> of anglo-saxon imperial arrogance to appropriate a cultural symbol of
> another culture in this way unless it was with the blessing of the culture
> concerned.

"arrogance" is a term that's quite often easily replaced with 
"ignorance" or even "innocence" based on the eye of the beholder. I 
believe the choice of the "geronimo" name had nothing to do with arrogance.

> That we have done it in the past, and that others may also be
> doing it is no defence.

agreed! (to put it in negative connotations, in my western if not 
anglo-saxon arrogance I feel this is a 'universal' principle everyone 
should apply to making decisions. Just like I often prefer rational 

> Consider how you would feel should some refrence
> from your cultural history be misappropriated in this way. We are a mixed
> community, from innumerable different backgrounds, surely between us we can
> exhibit some sensitivity.

again, agreed! I agree, too, that it is a good idea to consider the 
needs, desires, cultures, principles, morals, values of others. That is, 
again, something *I* consider a 'universal' principle.

> That there _is_ a feeling in Native American society against this
> misappropriation in general is clearly seen here:

<snip reference/>

The article is a cry to "End racist use of American Indian names, 
images, and religious symbols" from a ms Adamson who has been 'into this 
stuff' for 30 years. Together with other articles on that website, it 
seems pretty clear that there are quite a few American Indians who feel 
that there are "American Indian names, images, and religious symbols" 
being used in a way that constitutes racism. The website does also point 
out that not all American Indians feel that way.

What is not exactly clear to me is when exactly "use of American Indian 
names, images, and religious symbols" becomes racism in the view of the 
author and/or the American Indian people.

Nevertheless, I think it is safe to assume based on the information in 
the article and based on other materials on the referenced website that 
there will be some American Indians who will see the use of the 
"geronimo" name as racist. Furthermore, based on the same information, I 
think its also safe to assume that there will also be American Indians 
who not share that view (for example, I found a reference to a tribe 
that makes heaps of money by 'renting' out their name to a local sports 

I could not find any online reference that talks specifically about the 
feelings of Apache about these issues. Finally, an often quoted 
reference is the book "Dancing at Halftime" which is presumably a good read:

The Indian Country newspaper is also a good source for more information, 
though I'll warn everyone that articles on it are of wildly varying quality:

<this bit moved from elsewhere/>
 > I would stress that I have an open mind about the acceptability
 > of our use of the name, but also I believe that it is not my judgement
 > which counts, it is that of Native American society.

After some research, it seems to me that the "Native American society" 
is as divided as the geronimo project on issues similar to this one. I 
believe it may be impossible to defer to that society for judgement. 
What is clear to me now is that there are at least elements in that 
society that feel the use of the "geronimo" name by this project is 

Other arguments
> 4/ Most commercial software is announced and pre-released using a code
> name, a working project name.
> Ours is "Geronimo". I do not believe that we would undo six months of brand
> building if we do change the name, but we need to do it soon, and to
> prepare the ground intelligently.

I believe most commercial software under a code name doesn't receive 
brand building, for good reason. I do believe that we would lose some 
brand building if the project name is changed. If you change the name to 
"Apache Jeep", for example, I'm sure many people that do know what 
"Apache Geronimo" stands for will not know what you're talking about.

My opinion
Sice I think it is highly unlikely that the ASF will get into actual 
trouble by keeping the "geronimo" name (which is something I'd be 
concerned about as an Incubator PMC member, and in general because I 
don't like the ASF being in trouble) and I'm not otherwise an active 
participant in this project, I think my opinion doesn't matter. I trust 
the community to ensure that the/a right decision will be made in the end.

back to my corner!



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