The Cleveland Indians are playing tonight. There’s a lot of discomfort with their name, Indians, and mascot, Chief Wahoo who looks like something out of a bad 1930s cartoon. In a couple of months there will be the same consternation over the Washington Redskins. The offended people will still be protesting. The other side will be falling back on ‘tradition’ or blaming political correctness. They’ll point out how nobody objects to the Minnesota Vikings, or Norte Dame Fighting Irish. The two sides will continue to yell at each other and nothing will happen.
Let’s stop for a second and think about this. What is the purpose of a mascot? Well, originally mascots were actual animals. The regimental dog for example. This morphed into symbols for sports teams, the Bluejays, the Cornhuskers, the Blue Devils, and so fourth. Somewhere along the line people got drawn into this, the Brewers, the Boilermakers. Over time particular ethnic groups became mascots. The Irish, Vikings, Indians, Celtics, Yankees, and many more. Now the worry is that when people are supporting a team they will say things like “Kill the Indians.” Setting aside the fact that this sort of rabid fan support is in and of itself an issue, it brings up all sorts of nasty historical memories. But this isn’t limited to Native Americans. When’s the last time you saw a Viking? Yes, Norwegians still exist, but that culture was wiped out by European Christendom . Celtics? The Irish potato famine. The list goes on and on. The fact is that at some time EVERY ethnic group has been on the losing end of a pogrom by another ethnic group.
So how about this. We simply say that people are not suitable for mascots. If someone wants to go apeshit for their team let them shout “Kill the Gophers” rather than a people that once heard that said for real. Rather than trying to get rid of Braves, and Indians, and Sioux, and such, while giving other names a pass, let’s drop all of them. Simple rule: People aren’t mascots. Because on one level the Minnesota Vikings Ragnar or the Notre Dame Leprechaun are just as much offensive stereotypes as The Indians Chief Wahoo or the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop.
People in general deserve more respect.