Thursday, March 17, 2005

Of Chiefs, Braves and Redskins

It's that most wonderful time of the year again. The college basketball championship tournament, affectionately referred to as March Madness by fans around the country, starts today. And if you are a fan, you'll know that Illinois is the number one team in the country, losing only one game during the regular season. Going into the tournament, Illinois is the favorite to win the national title.

But Illinois sports is in the news for a more dubious reason as well: their mascot. (see photo)

The issue of Indian mascots is a long fought battle that I quite honestly can't even believe continues. Shouldn't the mascot issue be an open and shut case? Shouldn't mascots like "Redskins" and "Braves" and silly degrading minstrel-like half-time shows featuring white people dressed up in the equivalent of Indian black-face, wearing feathers and facepaint and whooping and dancing, been long ago dropped as racist, insulting drivel? Shouldn't it?

Not according to some fans, whose level of ignorance and internet-fuled bravado knows no bounds. Despite the psychological considerations that argue the detrimental effect of these mascots, especially on kids, and despite the fact that Native Americans have said repeatedly that they find no honor in the likes of Chief Illiniwek and that "Redskins" is a slur on par with the N-word - and no one who values their life would name their team something like that - some people still insist that the furor over Indian mascots is a politically-correct ado about nothing.

So maybe Illinois will win the national championship (although my money's on the University of North Carolina). But I'd be much more impressed if Illinois woke up to the 21st century and proved itself to be a public instutition of higher learning worthy of respect by dropping "The Chief" as its mascot.


Blogger Dr. Strangejazz said...

Before I comment I want you to know I agree with your post (except Syracuse is going all the way).

But consider this....Your average ignorant American after reading your post would think the following:

-Why are the Indians offended? They got those casinos and everything. I'd say it's even.

-There still some left? Don't they get money from those teams?

- It's tradition. They ain't hurtin nobody.

Of course all those points are silly and ignorant but that's how people feel.

No doubt it is offensive. I wish there was some way for these teams to stop using these stupid mascots but the only way that's going to happen is for the Indian community to get more organized and put an end to this ignorance.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

If these people see no problem with having these teamed named after racial slurs why not rename them the "The Washington Whiteys" or "The Atlanta Rednecks" or "The St. Louis Crackers" or "Illinois Fighting Honkeys"?

11:49 PM  
Blogger sideshow bob said...

Isn't it so very considerate for people of one race or culture to decide what should and should not be offensive to people of another race or culture?Redskins...unbelivable.
I have actually been to a football game where they start doing the "tomahawk chop", and I just felt so ashamed having to be associated with those idiots making chopping movements with their hands.
I read a suggestion somewhere that maybe now, in light of the current political situations in the world, we could switch from Chiefs and Braves to Fightin' Mujahadeen and the like.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote the Declaration of Independance about King George: "He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." If you want to change the name of a sporting team who's fans could care less where the name derived, over the performance of the team on the field, you're starting in the wrong place. GO REDSKINS!

1:05 PM  
Blogger themarigoldtrail said...

hey anonymous,

What? Your comment makes no sense. Could you try again and try a little harder, cause I have no idea what point you are trying to make.

And as long as you are there, learn the difference between "who's" and "whose".


7:33 PM  

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