- Jamie L.H. Goodall is a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History
- She received her history PhD in ‘Pirates in the Atlantic/Chesapeake/Caribbean’ from Ohio State University in 2016
- The op-ed came ahead of Super Bowl LV, in which the Buccaneers faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs
- Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House Press Secretary, called the article ‘pathetic’
Football fans have blasted a historian’s woke op-ed which claims that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ name is problematic for ‘romanticizing’ cutthroat pirates.
Jamie L.H. Goodall, a staff historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, published her Washington Post op-ed on Friday ahead of Super Bowl LV, in which the Buccaneers faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL championship.
While this celebration of piracy seems like innocent fun and pride in a local culture, there is danger in romanticizing ruthless cutthroats who created a crisis in world trade when they captured and plundered thousands of ships on Atlantic trade routes,’ Goodall wrote.
But many readers hit out at the opinion piece, with former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany blasting it as ‘pathetic’.
Goodall – who has a tattoo of a pirate on her arm – argued that the ‘murderous thieves’ and their ‘wicked deeds,’ like locking women and children in a burning church, are erased when they become ‘a symbol of freedom and adventure.’
‘These were men (and women) who willingly participated in murder, torture and the brutal enslavement of Africans and Indigenous peoples,’ she wrote.
Goodall, who received her ‘PhD Pirates in the Atlantic/Chesapeake/Caribbean’ from Ohio State University in 2016, has also authored books including Pirates of the Chesapeake Bay.
The historian said that word buccaneer is derived from the Arawak word buccan, an indigenous term for landless hunters on the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga
The Arawak are a group of peoples including the Lokono of South America and the Taino, which historically lived in the Caribbean.
The word was later Anglicized to refer to a group of Caribbean outlaws ‘who operated much like Mediterranean pirates/privateers,’ Goodall wrote.
The historian told readers to consider the stories of Jose Gaspar, a Spanish pirate known as Gasparilla who ‘is still celebrated in Tampa today’ as the ‘Last of the Buccaneers.’
One story alleges that he kidnapped a 12-year-old girl for ransom and the judge made him choose between jail or the Spanish Navy,’ Goodall wrote.
There is no evidence that Gaspar even existed but he remains a popular figure in Florida folklore, and has been celebrated in the annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival since 1904.
‘So why do we celebrate individuals who were the baddest of bad guys, those whom preacher Cotton Mather once called ‘Common Enemies of Mankind?’ Goodall wrote.
‘Pirates were known murderers who pillaged, raped and plundered their way through the Caribbean. And they were well-known enslavers who dehumanized Africans and Indigenous people, selling them for profit.’
One Twitter user came to Goodall’s defense, writing: ‘I’ve been saying this about the Pittsburgh @Pirates for years. Every summer I’m triggered for 4 months straight because of the atrocities committed by pirates.’
‘But Disney made some cute movies about them so they can’t be cancelled,’ wrote @the_legit_shag.
However, other Twitter users were quick to slam Goodall for the ‘desperate’ op-ed.
Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House Press Secretary under President Donald Trump, wrote: ‘This is pathetic… even for the Washington Post. Go find something else to cancel and complain about! Leave Tampa & the Buccaneers alone.’
Tim Murtagh, a former Trump campaign spokesman, wrote: ‘On Super Bowl Sunday, the @washingtonpost is here to remind us that ‘normalizing pirates’ is problematic.’
‘So, if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not cancelled, soon we will all be tolerating raiding galleons, plundering coastal towns, and swashbuckling,’ Murtagh wrote.
Others like @SEBCTink tried to school the pirate expert on swashbuckler history, noting that the United States ‘actually licensed and created ‘pirates’ to harry Colonial ships during the Revolutionary War?’
‘Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, we were taught in school that Jean Lafitte was a hero,’ wrote @RumpoleBayou — referring to the French pirate and privateer who operated in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century and founded the colony on Texas’ Galveston Island.