The New York Times has published a new story that tackles the issue of ethnically charged product naming, this time in the auto industry. The paper dusts off the discourse because Chrysler has resurrected the Jeep Cherokee moniker for its latest model. Writer Glenn Collins uses the new Jeep as a jumping off point for a merry stroll through the auto industry's history of culturally insensitive and/or politically incorrect names and advertising.
In the piece, Chrysler representatives say that reusing the Cherokee name isn't meant to offend anyone, noting that the company hasn't received any feedback about the name being disparaging. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma has said that the group opposes stereotypes and applauds sports teams and schools for dropping offensive mascots, but has stopped short of criticizing the Jeep Cherokee based on its name. Officially, the Cherokee Nation has no stance on the matter, but spokesman Amanda Clinton says "it would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least."
It's worth noting that "Cherokee" has been an active Jeep product name for decades now (through its more upscale Grand Cherokee range), and the company has long shied away from the sort of imagery and caricatures that have come under fire in the sporting world and elsewhere (e.g. Major League Baseball's Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians). Here on Autoblog, when the new Cherokee was revealed, many commenters openly groused about the name choice – but not because of its Native American ties. The issue for many, it would seem, is that this new model represents such a radical departure from the long-serving, much-loved XJ generation, that it has been deemed to not be an appropriate fit.
Do you have a problem with Jeep bringing back the Cherokee name because you think it's culturally insensitive, or is this much ado about nothing? Head over to The New York Times to read the piece for yourself, then vote in our poll below.
|Yes, absolutely||1255 (8.2%)|
|No, absolutely not||13006 (85.3%)|
|I'm not sure||982 (6.4%)|