Third Party & Independents Archives

In America It's OK to be Racist

There has been a long argument involving racially motivated mascots in sports. The question is though why we put up with the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves (probably the biggest offender when you consider some of their cheers), the Cleveland Indians, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Notre Dame Fightin Irish.

The fact is that overall all of these mascots, outside of Notre Dame, only belittle Native Americans. A group that has been severely weakened, simply put because our nation killed off the majority of their people years ago.

Why should this be allowed, just because Native Americans are not a powerful group in America? Are we saying that it is ok to belittle an entire people only because they don't have the power to stop us?

The fact is that a majority of Americans would agree with me on that we shouldn't belittle entire groups of people. However because Native Americans are few and far between, unless you live in certain areas of the country you probably do not know to many Native Americans. But simply because we do not personally know many Native Americans does not make it okay for us to continue this injustice.

Unfortunately in this country it has become okay to belittle certain groups of people, and thus this injustice has continued.

So in order to make you really think about this issue I give you the following:

What do you think would occur if this happened?
1. What if the Carolina Panthers became the Carolina Negroes with beatbox cheers and they came from Africa.

Or if,

2. The Minnesota Vikings became the New York Kikes with dollar bills on their helmets.


You know as well as I do that if either one of these occurences happened there would be an immediate outrage on the explicit racism. So why do we put up with the racism of the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Florida State Seminoles, Notre Dame Fightin Irish, among others?

I dont know, do you?

Posted by Richard Rhodes at July 9, 2006 1:11 AM
Comments
Comment #166056

Richard, while I agree with you, and empathize with my indigenous fellow American citizens, this country has far greater problems to deal with, as do our American Indian brothers and sisters.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 9, 2006 5:01 AM
Comment #166071

You mention the Minnesota Vikings. This is exactly the same sort of name as the Braves or the Indians. This is a tribute to Scandinavian warriors.

The University of Virginia team is called the Cavaliers, a reference to Anglo American gentlemen and rogues. Speaking of rogues, how many teams are called Pirates, Raiders etc. The Carolina Tar Heels, I think refers to poor workers who had to do nasty work making turpentine. The Green Bay Packers refer to a kind of industrial worker, ditto for the Pittsburg Steelers.

The Braves were not named after Indians at all. They refer to the participants in the Boston Tea Party. Should new Englanders be insulted by their team being called Patriots?. Should we all feel aggrieved by the expropriation of our name by the Yankees?

I think you may have a point about Redskins, which is pejorative in general. As for most of the others, it is just PC silliness.

People identify strongly with there teams. They are proud of them. Anybody who gets insulted by a team name should just get over it. It is racist to get upset when someone calls a team warriors or braves. Many of my ancestors were warriors and I hope they were brave at least occasionally. If the Redskins, Braves or Seminoles want to change their name to the fighting sausage makers, brewers or longshoremen to honor my ancestors instead, let them. They have my permission.

I just hope it is a winning team.

Posted by: Jack at July 9, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #166081

Jack,

“If the Redskins, Braves or Seminoles want to change their name to the fighting sausage makers, brewers or longshoremen to honor my ancestors instead, let them.”

There was an initiative to ban pejorative team names.
The Seminole tribe fought against it. They supported Florida State’s right to retain the name.

Posted by: Rocky at July 9, 2006 10:30 AM
Comment #166083

Oh, you have GOT to be kidding.

The reason those mascots were chosen is because of the symbolism of fierceness.

Braves = tough.
Indians = fierce
Warriors (my old high school mascot) = fearless

etc., etc.

I guess instead of defending the concept of choosing a fierce or proud mascot, I really should be asking the question, “Do you REALLY believe those teams chose their mascots for no other reason than to be racist pigs?” “Do you REALLY REALLY believe that?”

If so, why didn’t the San Diego Padres start off as the San Diego Wetbacks? Answer that.

If so, why didn’t the Minnesota Vikings’ name start off by being the Minnesota Blonde, Straight Haired Crackers? Answer that.

Of course, I assume, if you had your way…we’d have:

The New York “Vertically Enhaced Persons”.

The Tennessee “Extremely Vertically Enhaced Persons”.

The New England “Primarially White Conservative Nationalistic Persons”.

The New Orleans “Persons Who May Or May Not Exist And As Soon As The ACLU Files Suit For Separation Of Church And State (Since Public Funds Built The Superdome) Will Be Called The ‘Crabs’ Or The ‘Gumbo’ Or Something Equally Stupid And Unoffensive”. (This would make for really challenging cheers!)

Look…I could go on and on…but I have a solution.

Don’t spend your money to see teams whose mascot offends you. They will lose money, go out of business, and then you won’t be upset any more.

And then you can go see and support your new favorite team…The Pasadena Politically Correct Police Nazis.

Posted by: Jim T at July 9, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #166087

It is OK to be racist in this country. After all, if all these illegal imigrants that everyone is so up in arms about were caucasians who spoke perfect English, nobody would be saying a word.

Posted by: ElliottBay at July 9, 2006 10:55 AM
Comment #166090

ElliotBay,

Annnnh!!! Wrong answer.

The only caucasians that speak PERFECT ENGLISH live in England…NOT the U.S.

Posted by: Jim T at July 9, 2006 11:34 AM
Comment #166091

…And the English LIKE it there.

Posted by: Jim T at July 9, 2006 11:38 AM
Comment #166093

Jim T

Otherwise, they wouldn’t be IMMIGRANTS, now would they?

And if millions of those caucasians who spoke perfect English immigrated to this country illegally, would anyone here care? No, they wouldn’t.

Posted by: ElliottBay at July 9, 2006 11:42 AM
Comment #166096


A few years back,our local college was finally becoming a four accredited university. The University wanted a new name and they decided to ask the general public for their opinion as to what that name should be. The overwhelming choice of the public was Shawnee State University, named after the local tribe that was indiginous to this region. The local people proudly associate with that tribe even though their PIONEER ancestors had warred against and took the land from that tribe. Today the people associate more with the tribe than their own ancestors. Many area business also us the name. Long live the spirit of Tecumseh!

Our mascot is the bear which is also making a comeback.

Posted by: jlw at July 9, 2006 11:55 AM
Comment #166103

Jack said—

“You mention the Minnesota Vikings. This is exactly the same sort of name as the Braves or the Indians. This is a tribute to Scandinavian warriors.

The Braves were not named after Indians at all. They refer to the participants in the Boston Tea Party.”

I didn’t think about the Vikings in that manner you probably are right about that. As far as the Atlanta Braves go if they were named after participants of the Boston Tea Party than why has one of their cheers for quite a while been the tomahawk chop?

David R. Remer stated—
“Richard, while I agree with you, and empathize with my indigenous fellow American citizens, this country has far greater problems to deal with, as do our American Indian brothers and sisters.”

True David, I am not saying that we don’t have other issues. But we can still discuss these issues.

Moreover in general to everyone. I want to again make my main point: That if these teams made mascots that were racially motivated against Blacks or Jews or Hispanics or Whites, or any group outside Native Americans there would be a much larger uproar against it.

I ask you this again: What would happen if the Carolina Panthers became the Carolina Negroes with beatbox cheers and they came from Africa. Or if, The Minnesota Vikings became the New York Kikes with dollar bills on their helmets.

You know as well as I do that if either of those happened the teams would be forced to change their names within minutes, Americans would not put up with it.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 9, 2006 12:39 PM
Comment #166107

Richard,

“As far as the Atlanta Braves go if they were named after participants of the Boston Tea Party than why has one of their cheers for quite a while been the tomahawk chop?”

The Atlanta Braves were originally the Boston Braves.
That “tomahawk” chop thing is a fairly recent addition.

Posted by: Rocky at July 9, 2006 12:56 PM
Comment #166111

Richard

Your examples are not valid, since they are the pejorative ones. As I said, you might have a point with the Redskins. The others, not. The Viking already ARE named after a white warrior tradition. As I wrote, you can name a team after any of my ancestors, as long as the team wins sometimes. In fact, you can name it for me, but the fighting bureaucratic tree farmers probably would not be very inspiring.

We have become too sensitive to these things. Indians should be proud that their ancestors inspire such an honor.

BTW - I checked into the name thing They originally called themselves the Boston Red Stockings. Then they were the Boston Beaneaters. They took the name Braves after because one of the owners was associated with Tammany Hall, who called themselves Braves. It seems to me that the a word like brave, warrior etc doesn’t necessarily belong to Indians anyway.

Posted by: Jack at July 9, 2006 1:08 PM
Comment #166113

I guess to the extent that I find the team names (Redskins, moreso than Seminoles, since Seminole is a specific tribe not a derogetory term used by white people to describe the American Indians) offensive is in the conception that they reinforce the negative stereotypes about American Indians. The painted faced noble savage is not a fair depiction of a nuianced culture, and it is indeed racist to look at the first Americans in this way.

However, far more damage has already been done by the propogation of myths and lies about the native peoples, and I believe most importantly, the poor job of textbooks in this country to address what really happened. The elimination of the American Indians was on one hand a natural disaster caused by the spread of disease, first accidental, and then secondarily as a usage of early biological warfare, and on the other genocide orchestrated by first colonial, then the American government under the likes of Andrew Jackson, because they believed that the Indians weren’t truly human. A hundred years later an enterprising young man in Germany would develop his own attitudes toward race based on these concepts, but his definition of human even further narrowed who was worthy of living in human society. When Hitler killed six million Jews and millions of other people, he was applying the racial theories that were long held to be true in the colonies to the peoples of Europe. If one can say that, though this man is physically identical to me in the form of his body, the color of his skin demonstrates that he is not truly human, it was not a far stretch to demonize the “lesser” white races.

So I guess what I am saying is that there is a problem with the mascotts when they reinforce pre-existing racial stereotypes, but I really don’t see that as a serious concern, in light of how little the team mascott really has anything to do with a sports team. Our problem is how these issues are taught in schools, how we view them in the media, and how we allow ourselves to accept certain things as definately true, when the truth is often far more nuanced than our perception, this is further accentuated by the prevolence of people getting their entire interpretation of American Indian culture from media like television and movies, which tend to present a biased view, and keeping with the nature of the camera lense, present it as absolute truth.

Posted by: iandanger at July 9, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #166153

As stated in a previous comment, the local tribes in Tallahassee support the Florid State Seminoles. We’re not racist, in fact we honor Native American heritage. It is shameful you would compare us to a school that called itself the “Kikes” or “Negroes.”

Perhaps you should think about what you’re saying before accusing others of “belittling” a certain people.

Scottie
Proud FSU Alumni

Posted by: Scottie at July 9, 2006 3:33 PM
Comment #166207

Scottie,

I agree with you, using the name of an actual tribe is no different from the Packers or the Jazz (before the team moved), its about the heritage of the region.

But Redskin is a racial slur, thats different.

I say this as a Washington area Redskins fan.

Posted by: iandanger at July 9, 2006 7:59 PM
Comment #166222

Scottie and iandanger-

Ok I didn’t know about the tribe’s acceptance of FSU ‘s use of their name. However my point still holds true with the Redskins and Braves (and while the Braves may not be a derogatory term their tomahawk cheer certainly is). And the point still to be made also is that we as a society accept these derogatory racist uses of Native Americans as mascots while we would not accept it about other groups, thus we are dehumanizing Native Americans.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 9, 2006 8:39 PM
Comment #166224

Richard,

read my longer post, I agree with you, but I believe the mascotts are symptoms of a problem, not the problem itself.

As a partially blooded Cherokee, I certainly don’t like the idea of being treated like less than a human.

Posted by: iandanger at July 9, 2006 8:43 PM
Comment #166232

I’m waitng for Bill Gates to name a team the Washington Geeks.

Posted by: gergle at July 9, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #166249

Anyone that gets upset over a team name needs to get a life. There’s absolutely no disrespect meant in any way. Unless the name contains a racial slur. And none do.
A while back there was some folks that thought our high school team need a new name. They claimed that Trojans was inappropriate sense a condom manufacturer used that name. They claimed that the school was promoting that brand over others. How stupid. There’s a case of folks seriously needing a life
BTW, we’re still the Trojans. And still #1.


And if millions of those caucasians who spoke perfect English immigrated to this country illegally, would anyone here care? No, they wouldn’t.

Posted by: ElliottBay at July 9, 2006 11:42 AM

The hell we wouldn’t. I don’t give a rats butt where they came from, what color they are, what language they speak or don’t speak. If they ain’t here legally, send their asses packing back where they came from post haste.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 9, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #166253

Ron Brown-

A. Redskins is a slur.
B. The Braves tomahawk cheer is demeaning.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 10, 2006 12:51 AM
Comment #166271

Then bill gates team ,”the geeks” would have three geek squads, 1. the defense geek squad.2. the offense geek squad. 3. the special teams geek squad. there scheduled to play the “gorks “next week.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 10, 2006 4:28 AM
Comment #166280

Richard:

Its the ignorance of those who discuss this issue that is truly the problem. You blamed FSU for being the Seminoles without even knowing that the Seminole tribe supports it. Its this kind of ignorance that blows the issue over the top.

I’d agree that the “Redskins” can be considered a racist term. Not so with a name like the Golden State Warriors, at least not any more so than suggesting that the New Jersey Generals or the Kentucky Colonels is racist. They are all military terms.

The over inflated charges diminish the ability of the real charges to be heard. When someone hyperventilates about Florida State or talks about the New York Kikes, it diminishes the issue greatly.

Should I as a Caucasian take great racial exception to the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”? How is that not racist? But you know what—there’s a measure of truth to the generality, and its meant in fun. So I take no such offense.

In Upstate New York, people have been corrected for calling others “Indians”. I resist the correction, because I have a client who works for a casino. His business card shows that he works for the Oneida Indian Nation. My conclusion is that if they call themselves Indians, then it certainly is not a pejorative term.

We can all manufacture issues to get up in arms about. But if we go through life doing so, we simply end up as clanging gongs, ringing shrilly at anything and everything.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at July 10, 2006 9:13 AM
Comment #166299

jbd,

You’re right, American Indian is an acceptable term, and making a huge fuss about the issue is counterproductive.

In the context of White Men Can’t Jump, that movie WAS about a white guy who is quite good at basketball, defying stereotypes, because at the end he does dunk.

Not that that has anything to do with anything.

Posted by: iandanger at July 10, 2006 12:07 PM
Comment #166365

Most of those examples are PC hogwash and the names were chosen for what it meant to the people choosing the name…Braves for Brave, Seminoles for the same reason. They certainly weren’t thinking about the feelings of the Seminoles, et al when they chose it, good or bad.
But there are examples like the Redskins and the Indians that should be changed.
Why have they not been changed? Because no one can make them and we obviously don’t care enough to pressure them with our wallets to do so.

Posted by: Zebster at July 10, 2006 3:44 PM
Comment #166370

This issue seems to be blown out of proportion. There is no disrespect intended by teams who name themselves after Native American warriors. If anything, as was mentioned in previous posts, their team names are chosen to reflect the culture of the area and should be taken as a show of respect. There are many more pressing issues on the fronts of racism and human rights than this one.

Posted by: A Member of the Faithful Lads at July 10, 2006 4:00 PM
Comment #166371

iandanger:

In regard to White Men Can’t Jump, I understood the movie and all. But I’ve yet to see a movie called “Black Boys Can’t Swim” about a black man who wins a swimming competition. I suspect Jesse, Al and the gang would have a kitty over something like that.

By the way, I AM the title stereotype, and I have yet to take offense at it. Its a joke with a tad bit of the truth to it. In fact, with most stereotypes, there is a reason for the stereotype. I just wish the logic was applied equally to all races.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at July 10, 2006 4:37 PM
Comment #166389

Ron Brown-

A. Redskins is a slur.
B. The Braves tomahawk cheer is demeaning.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 10, 2006 12:51 AM

According to who? The PC crowd? All the more reason to have the Redskins and the tomahawk chop. If for no other reason just to piss them off.
I find it interesting that the only race that it’s PC to racially stereotype and demean and they aint supposed to take offence is the White race. If it’s wrong to do it with one race it’s wrong to do it with them all.
I don’t let stereotyping of the White race bother me. In fact I think a lot of it is funny. But then I can laugh at myself and my race.
I think that folks in general need to lighten up. We all need to learn to laugh at ourselves again.

Posted by: Ron Brown at July 10, 2006 6:08 PM
Comment #166393

JOBOD

In regard to White Men Can’t Jump, I understood the movie and all. But I’ve yet to see a movie called “Black Boys Can’t Swim” about a black man who wins a swimming competition. I suspect Jesse, Al and the gang would have a kitty over something like that.

You can bet you sweet bippy they would.

By the way, I AM the title stereotype, and I have yet to take offense at it. Its a joke with a tad bit of the truth to it. In fact, with most stereotypes, there is a reason for the stereotype. I just wish the logic was applied equally to all races.

That wouldn’t be PC.


Posted by: Ron Brown at July 10, 2006 6:19 PM
Comment #166401

I think most of the arguments about this are weak. Teams for the most part are named after things or people that inspire others. Usually when its a group of people, its to honor an era of that group - like the Vikings. I see that as a tribute, not demeaning.

You notice we don’t have the Nashville Nazi’s with the Heil Heavy Hitters salute.

The main controversy with the Native American named teams seems to me to be that there are still Native American’s around that identify with the images being used. Are modern Native Americans horseback riding, bow and arrow toting, tomahawk wielding warriors? Or has enough time passed since that era to have teams named after them to honor their fierceness (like the Vikings).

Redskins is a bad name period. People should ask the team to change their name or boycott their games when they come to town. That’s how you get things done in the free enterprise system. Americans need to grow some balls and act like owners of this country instead of taking daily doses of Soma and hoping our wonderful government will solve all of our problems without us having to do anything uncomfortable (like take a public stand on an issue).

That is one of the tragedies of the “PC” revolution, more APATHY - no one wants to have any opinions on ANY issue because there are guaranteed to be some people with a different opinion that will be offended (or that will disagree with you) - and you can’t have that.

That is the only thing I respect about Bush, the man is willing to have an opinion - i usually don’t agree with his opinion but at least he has one.

Seminoles seems like a fine name as long as the tribe that is still around today doesn’t mind the tribute - which is the case from what I can tell.

So lumping all of these things together seems weak. It’s not all bad or all ok, some are bad, and some are ok.

Posted by: Redlenses at July 10, 2006 6:56 PM
Comment #166408

Isn’t everybody partially Cherokee? Just kidding, and my maternal grandpa was a 100% Cherokee, with jet black hair and copper skin. Uh oh, that wasn’t PC, was it. As if there were platinum blond or red haired American Indians. I have an idea. How about we all lighten up a little bit. The proper analogy would be the fighting Masai or King David’s warriors. Sounds a lot better than Negroes or Kikes, doesn’t it. Redskins may be over the line, I must admit.

BTW, We tend tp prefer the term American Indian to Native American because everyone born in the greatest nation on God’s green earth is a Native American.

Posted by: Duane-o at July 10, 2006 7:16 PM
Comment #166509

The people being depicted should have a collective veto. So if the Illini, for example, don’t want to be a mascot but the Seminoles don’t mind, then their wishes should be respected. This is just simple courtesy.

This would apply to the Negroes and the Kike examples, which would obviously be rejected by the people represented.

One problem with the American Indian mascots in particular is that some schools ape their religous rituals on the field. I’m sure most Catholics would be upset if the Fighting Irish mascot was a priest giving Communion in the middle of the field.

Posted by: Woody Mena at July 11, 2006 7:54 AM
Comment #166523

“Unfortunately in this country it has become okay to belittle certain groups of people, and thus this injustice has continued”

Since when is “belittling” somebody an “injustice?”
People do not have the right to not be offended.

I hope Team “A” beats Team “B.” But not by so much that Team “B” would feel bad.
But then again, the “A” could mean Anglo and the “B” could mean Black. Can’t do that.
Can’t do #1 and #2 either. Don’t want anybody refering to toilet humor when talking about somebody else.
Hmmm?
Go non-specific group that I support but don’t support more than the other non-specific groups?

Posted by: kctim at July 11, 2006 10:17 AM
Comment #166572

Woody - It’s all relative. I’m sure that as mad as they would be at that mascot, it would be even worse if Notre Dame then changed thier team name to “Predators”.

Posted by: perspective at July 11, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #166621

I’m Chinese-American, which makes me part of the so-called “model minority”. I’ve seem my share of prejudice, bigotry, stereotyping and racism. Almost every day, I see demeaning depictions of asians on TV, in movies or in print. Abercrombie and Fitch puts out a line of clothing that includes a “Wong Brothers Laundry” t-shirt and other Chinese stereotypes, and are unapologetic about it.

I get ticked-off when I see John Wayne portraying Ghengis Kahn. I don’t like that an Asian man can beat the crap out of anybody in a movie, but can’t even kiss a caucasian woman on screen. While a caucasian man can do whatever he wants to an asian woman on screen.

My point is that it’s easy to dismiss the impact of these things when you aren’t the target of the abuse. So I don’t see any problem with demanding that the D.C. team should change it’s name. I also think that the Kansas City and Cleveland teams should consider a name change as well.

As for those teams that are named after specific tribes, I think approval of the tribes makes it apporpriate to use the name. But some of these teams need to drop the mascots dressed in feathers and warpaint that ride up and down the field carrying a spear, and discourage the use of the “chop” as a rallying call.

Posted by: Michael at July 11, 2006 5:45 PM
Comment #166705

The only caucasians that speak PERFECT ENGLISH live in England…NOT the U.S.

Jim T, for somebody who wants to nitpick, you certainly use ironic grammar.

Posted by: Wulf at July 11, 2006 11:15 PM
Comment #166707

Richard, I enjoy a lot of your articles, but this one seems to have been poorly researched. The issue with the Seminoles was all over the news back when the NCAA announced that schools would have to change their mascots - a major issue from about a year ago that nobody here seems to have even mentioned.

I think some of the statements are clearly overly broad, as was the NCAA ruling. Consider the situation of the College of William and Mary, who are still fighting to keep the name “Tribe” for their sports teams. The NCAA has told them that their logo of two feathers is insulting. That’s right, they said the FEATHERS THEMSELVES were insulting, even separate from the name “Tribe”.
Click here for the text of W&M’s appeal and ask yourselves how reasonable are these blanket statements about offense and dignity.

Sure, the Tomahawk chop and chant is demeaning. The name Redskins is derogatory by today’s standards, if not in the past. Write the owners of the teams and tell them you are offended. But the NCAA has shown that it will probably be handled very poorly if an organization tries to force such a change from above - I’d wager more people were outraged over the attempted new rules than ever had been offended by naming a team “Tribe” or “Warriors”.

Posted by: Wulf at July 11, 2006 11:30 PM
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