“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,
but there is no joy in Illinois —
racism has won out.”
(With Apologies to Ernest Thayer)

Racism has won a record victory in Illinois, as the University of Illinois has been blackmailed into retiring its once proud symbol, Chief Illiniwek. The end of this tradition is a blow to those who have fought for equality everywhere, for it represents a massive injustice. Many anti-Chief organizations and individuals will try to trick you into thinking this is a victory against racism, but their lies are nothing but a flimsy facade for their own bigoted agenda.

What we have witnessed in the past few years, across this great nation’s campuses, are acts of discrimination by the NCAA. They have singled out schools that use native American imagery and labeled them as hostile and abusive. Evidently the NCAA believes that native American imagery should be restricted and only used by native Americans. They are trying to deny the right we all have to the history of this land, and they are doing so on the basis of race. Surprisingly, one will not find someone arguing that images of George Washington should be restricted so that only those of British descent may use his likeness. No, this door only swings one way, which makes it racist at its very core.

But the racism of the NCAA reaches far beyond the question of who can use symbols, and to the idea of which symbols are hostile and abusive. The noble portrayal of a Chieftain who leads a University in solemn song and dance is evidently cause for offense, but the numerous mascots which reflect badly on other races, peoples, and religions are not hostile and abusive. After all, if they depict white people, or a minority without a large enough bankroll, they can’t be hostile or abusive, can they?

If the NCAA is really looking to eliminate hostile and abusive mascots (rather than their true goal of promoting racism and lining their own greedy pockets) there is a long list of mascots in need retiring, let us take a look at some of the highlights:

First and foremost, we have those mascots which mock religious groups. While many claimed that Chief Illiniwek was somehow offensive to native American religious beliefs, no one seems to find the Wake Forest Demon Deacon offensive. Personally, I think describing Baptists as evil and demonic is a pretty clear ringer for offensive. But the NCAA doesn’t consider Wake Forest to have a hostile and abusive mascot. The same goes for the University of Pennsylvania, who use the Fighting Quakers as their mascot. Why isn’t the NCAA knocking on their door fighting for the rights of these maligned and abused religious groups?

Even worse than jabs at religious groups are the numerous mascots which mock and display inaccurate caricatures of blue collar workers, such as Purdue’s Boilermakers, the University of Nebraska’s Herbie Husker, or the University of Missouri-Rolla’s Joe Miner. A group of intellectuals using the likeness of a stereotyped blue collar worker at sporting events has obvious connotations. The blue collar worker is supposed to be big, dumb, and strong, and thus good at sports. None of the students or faculty will likely end up in these blue collar and sometimes dangerous jobs, nor will they likely associate with the people they are stereotyping. But the NCAA still turns a blind eye. Evidently they don’t care about abuse directed at the working class.

Lastly are the countless inappropriate ethnic mascots. Whether suggesting that a certain ethnic group tends to drink heavily and fight (Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish), further smearing the reputation of Greece (Michigan State’s Sparty the Spartan), a country that already has to deal with the term “Greek” being tied to rape, drunkenness, and disorderly conduct, or slamming an under protected minority group (the UCSB’s mascot Gaucho Joe), the NCAA is going to extreme lengths not to protect these races, ethnicities and backgrounds. All it would take would be an admission that these mascots are just as hostile and abusive as native American mascots, if not more so.

So we have to ask ourselves, is the NCAA really trying to eliminate hostile and abusive mascots? Of course not. They are really just looking to promote racism by blackmailing schools they see as easy targets. One need only look so far as the complaints against Chief Illiniwek to see the proof. One individual said: “It’s hard to construe the dancing white guy in face paint as anything other than an offensive caricature.”

Note the use of “white guy”. I’m surprised it is that easy to claim you are fighting against racism, while spewing racist crap yourself.

-Angry Midwesterner

Angry Midwesterner