Friday, August 12, 2005

Guilt trip

So the NCAA is going to "strongly discourage" the use of Native American mascots and imagery in association-sanctioned postseason tournaments.
Just Native American.
If that's the way the NCAA feels, fine. I am not going to sit here and type some idiotic belief that the mascots aren't offensive, or shouldn't be percieved as offensive. If a group bristles at the use of Native American images and mascots as sports trademarks, then, to them, it is an offensive practice, and far be it from me to tell them otherwise.
I do, however, have a problem with a practice of selective enforcement against ethnic and racial names that reeks of white guilt over this country's historic treatment of American Indian tribes.
So, we can have "Fightin' Irish," at Notre Dame, complete with a logo featuring a leprechaun-looking man with his dukes up, mentioned at NCAA posteseason tourneys, but nicknames like the Seminoles and the Fighting Illini are taboo.
How is Notre Dame's logo and nickname not offensive to the Irish when taken in the exploitation-and-stereotype context that many Native American rights groups use to justify their war against Indian mascots?
For crying out loud, the Fightin' Irish nickname has its roots in long-ago fans who thought the Notre Dame football team played hard like brawling Irishmen outside a pub.
For years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Irish immigrants were held in the same second-class-citizen regard as African Americans and Native Americans. They were viewed as dumb, drunk, violent, and incapable of holding a high position in society. It took the presidency of John F. Kennedy to finish erasing most of those perceptions.
But let's be honest: because most of those Irish immigrants and their descendants are as pasty white as the people who hold the power and money base in this country, they were assimilated into mainstream society sooner rather than later.
Now, we can uniformally look at a stereotypical rendering of an Irishman, much like an Italian or a German, and laugh.
But mix in increased pigment amounts in the skin, and then you start crossing racial lines, and then you have a problem.
White stereotypes in this country are viewed as humorous. Anyone with darker skin, it is viewed as offensive. Certainly, there is a track record of exploitation with blacks, Hispanic, Asian and Native Americans that warrants that.
But when we say Native American nicknames and logos are exploitative, but nicknames that stereotype the Irish, the Scottish and the Dutch aren't, that's still a double standard.
Someone is wrong here. Either us white folk have to have a little more respect for our old-country heritage, or Native American rights groups have to re-evaluate just how much a sports team's nickname brands their people as Tonto in this day and age.

1 comment:

Abrasivist said...

I guess we should think of a new name for the Indians then? But where does it stop? When does PETA protest for exploiting blue jays and cardinals?

P.S. Your ad at Tri C worked.