Friday, January 07, 2011

"Indian" Mascots

A friend of mine posted this, soliciting input.

She’s a good gal, too, and I think she honestly wanted peoples’ opinions to weigh. So … I obliged.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this ... if you want more explanation, see

Well ... I think people get too bent out of shape on this stuff. While "Indians" is admittedly generic, sports teams have a history of choosing names of entities that were known as tough or fierce and formidable fighters. Tigers. Lions.... Bears. Not always. Sometimes they go for more regionally inspired names like "Cardinals", "Oilers", "Rams" (well, when they were in California where there are actually, you know, Rams).

The Hickman Kewpies are tougher to explain, but there IS a story there (scroll down and find "Mascot").

I seriously doubt that anyone ever named a sports team as an insult to the entity they named the team for.

Do caucasians get
flustered over Pistol
Pete's "shifty" eyes?
As far as Cleveland goes, here in this country the natives ... wrongly but historically dubbed "indians" as a collective group were known as tough and fierce fighters. So I can see the name Cleveland "Indians". We don't have that same history here with Africans, who were historically subdued here and uprooted from their original homes away from their tribes and identities and had much less of a chance to fight back and gain such a reputation. So Cleveland "Africans" ... wouldn't work so much as, say, Cleveland "Zulus". Similarly with the Asians and Hispanics, perhaps "Samaurai" or "Banditos" or "Caballeros" would make more sense than more generic race names. But ... whatever.

 One thing I've noted is that, as far as these things go, it's usually white liberals instigating or leading the charge claiming to be upset on these groups' behalf and not the groups themselves that are upset about it.   I read many Seminole Indians rather liked the team name for the Florida Seminoles, and were fans perhaps because of it rather than in spite of it -- though white academics have called for a change in the name because it's supposedly "insensitive" or somehow insulting.

Were midwestern farmers
insulted by Herbie Husker?
A more recent case and point on this was the Taco Bell Chihuahua -- over which there was a flap started to get him removed claiming it promoted an unflattering stereotype (he was voiced by an actual Hispanic man, by the way), only to have another Hispanic group pipe up and say, no, actually we think he's kinda cool and casts us in a good light. I, for one, thought he was kinda cool. And my father used to tell people they found me on the border to jokingly explain my darker hair and eyes.  I was also a pretty tanned little southern California boy at the time as well.   I wasn't insulted.

Most people thought the Taco
Bell dog was kinda hip.
In short, I think we spend WAY too much energy in this country looking for reasons excuses to be offended as we have become a culture of victims -- because victims are awarded special privileges now. People are stumbling over one another to show how offended they are over the slightest things so that their other like-minded colleagues will pat them on the head and tell them what good people they are.

1 comment:

Severian said...

When it comes to stuff like this, I always ask "which is really the bigger insult: Chief Wahoo, or a bunch of people taking one look at my skin color and then ordering me to become offended in the name of group solidarity?"

Kinda answers itself, in my book.