On Sports Mascots and Honouring Indians

This is a repost of one of my old e-newsletters, known as David’s Mental Meanderings.  I wrote this when the NCAA ramped up it’s campaign to force colleges and universities to get rid of Indian mascots.  Now that the University of North Dakota will be voting tomorrow about abandoning the Fighting Sioux, even over the objection of the Sioux who are fighting this, I thought it deserved to be dredged up again.

David’s Mental Meanderings
10th August 2005
The NCAA has decided that universities with mascots or nicknames derived from American Indian sources must change or cover up their nicknames to compete in NCAA tournaments because they are “hostile and abusive”. You would think that those bastions of woolly liberal thinking and political correctness would have already taken such measures on their own, but 18 universities have failed to do so and must be brought to heel. What a load of tosh.

I do not rely upon the 1/16 Cherokee blood on my paternal side as the basis for my credibility to speak on these matters. I’m sure lots of people have a great-great-grandparent who was an American Indian.

I am, after all, a former Honorary Member of the Texas Commission for Indian Affairs. I was appointed circa 1968 when my state senator was Governor for a Day. I’m not sure how long my appointment lasted, but the certificate adorned my bedroom wall while I was growing up.

Seriously, my connection with American Indians is a bit deeper. My maternal grandfather, was employed by the TCIA (renamed the Texas Indian Commission in 1975), as the business manager of the Alabama-Coushatta and the superintendent of the Tigua (pronounced tee’-wah) Indian reservations in Texas. My grandmother was so loved by the Tigua community in El Paso that many of them travelled 700 miles to her funeral and performed a special ceremony at her graveside. My grandfather then married a Tigua woman, adopted her son, and begat two further sons. Thus, I have an Indian step-grandmother with two half-Indian half-uncles younger than me. After my grandfather died, a street was named for him in El Paso in recognition of his contribution to the Tigua tribe.

Political correctness has completely blinded the NCAA. How do they figure that a mascot is demeaning or hostile? By it’s very nature, it is making a positive statement about the people represented. A school (at whatever level from elementary to university) has chosen that mascot to represent them and their pursuit of excellence in athletics. Sure the student in the silly rubber head may inject humour to the proceedings, but his role is not to bring the school or the school’s symbol into a object of derision.

No school says, “Hey, let’s pick out something that makes us look terrible.” I once thought the only exception would probably be the Sandcrab of my old high school. I have heard many people mock the “Fighting Sandcrabs” – and our prowess in most sports proved that we lived up to quality of our mascot. Then I discovered the University of California-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Theirs is the oxymoronic web address GoSlugs.com. But we’ll leave the poor choice of animal mascots for another time.

No school says, “Let’s use our athletics programs as an excuse to pick out an ethnic group for abuse.” But for the NCAA, representations that might recognise qualities common to, or legendary of, particular ethnic groups is racism.

The NCAA doesn’t even care that American Indian groups have supported the use of these nicknames. A spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa, reiterating their support for Central Michigan’s use of the Chippewa nickname, said the tribe does not accept an “arbitrary decision made from an outside source.”

The President of Florida State issued a statement saying, “Florida State University is stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the (NCAA). . . That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole Tribe of Florida as culturally ‘hostile and abusive’ is both outrageous and insulting. On June 17, the Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida spoke unequivocally of its support for (our) use of the Seminole name and related symbols… National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols. In making its decision, the executive committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has been ignored.”

When Charlotte Westerhaus, NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion, was asked why Florida State was on the hit list in light of its agreement with the tribe, she pointed out that there are many other Seminole tribes that do not have that agreement. She has not done her homework. There is only one other Seminole tribe, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma. That is a moot point, as Florida State are fairly obviously referring to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The NCAA also takes no notice that according to its website, “The University of Utah, in cooperation with the Ute Tribal Business Committee, is proud to share in the tradition of the Ute tribe through the ‘Utes’ nickname.” A tribal leader at the Unitah and Ouray Indian Reservation, home of the Northern Utes, echoed the Chippewas, “A non-Indian organization should not be the one to make the decision.”

Lest as 93.75% non-Indian, I fall into the error of the NCAA and presume to speak on their behalf, I contacted both the Tiguas and the Alabama-Coushatta. I spoke to someone in the enrollment office of the former and reached the Public Information Office of the latter. In both instances, it really wasn’t an issue. Both agreed that if Indians are portrayed in a negative way, it’s bad. Neither offered an example of this, but for both, it really wouldn’t be a battle worth fighting. There are too many real issues facing American Indians. They also agreed that if Indians are shown in a positive light, it’s a good thing.

The only organisation that I have seen reported to be in favour of the NCAA position is the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). I should say the only Indian organisation. According to news sources, they have the support of the NAACP and the National Organization of Women. That tells me about all I need to know. This was confirmed by the Public Information officer of the Alabama-Coushatta, who told me that whilst all the federally recognised tribes are members of the NCAI, the leadership of the organisation pushes a particular political agenda.

The NCAA appears to have been pushed along by a 2001 statement by the US Commission on Civil Rights calling “for an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-Native schools.” I haven’t been able to determine the composition of the USCCR in 2001. However, the present Commission is comprised of three black Republicans, one Hispanic Republican, one white Democrat, and one Chinese Democrat, with two Democrat vacancies. No Indians.

I also looked into the backgrounds of all 19 members of the NCAA Executive Committee. You guessed it. Not a single Indian. Plenty of well-meaning liberal non-Indians who know what’s best for them, of course.

If the Indian mascots have to change, what about others? After all, according to NCAA President Myles Brand, “The NCAA objects to institutions using racial/ethnic/national origin references in their intercollegiate athletics programs.” What negative stereotypes are being reinforced by the Fighting Irish and the Ragin’ Cajuns? “Tar Heel” was an insult levied at North Carolina’s residents who were so poor that they “walked around barefoot with tar on their heels”. Objection should also be raised about the Luther Norse, and Albion Britons. The Bethany Swedes have dodged all this by being members of the NAIA instead of the NCAA. The Hofstra Flying Dutchmen probably get brownie points for taking on the extra nickname “The Pride” and changing the lion on the right side of the Hofstra seal into a lioness to symbolize gender equity.

And who is going to stand up for other the historic ethnic groups serving as mascots, such as Trojans, Spartans, and Vandals? Soon you will have people tracing their genealogy back to these groups and asking for reparations. And finally, what about planetary origin? Surely the NCAA should investigate the Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans.

And Hofstra aside, there is also sexism to be dealt with. What is the NCAA doing about that? Teams at Division III Sweet Briar College are known as the Vixens. From their website: “vix·en (vik-sen) n. 1. a female fox. 2. a quarrelsome woman. The vixen was selected by Sweet Briar students as their mascot in 1979. The Oxford American Dictionary offers two definitions. Either works. Take your pick.” But what about the root issue? Sweet Briar College only admits women. Why is the NCAA worrying about mascots when it has member schools which openly discriminate on the basis of gender? With women comprising 56% of college students, who is looking out for minority rights?

Surely the mascot changes should be more sweeping. There is religious discrimination afoot. After all, what is “Demon Deacons” saying about the congregational leadership of Baptist churches? (They have to be Baptist deacons, as Wake Forest is a Baptist foundation.) The hierarchs of various Christian communions might take exception to Ohio Wesleyan’s Battling Bishops. After all, in 2000 Wheaton College removed any offence that could be taken by the Infidel when its Crusaders became the more meteorologically aggressive Thunder. Perhaps they were following the lead of the Earlham Hustling Quakers — once known as the Fighting Quakers, until the board of regents decided that it was inappropriate for Quakers to fight. But surely the NCAA should issue a ruling about these and the Whitman Missionaries, Providence Friars, and St. Joseph’s Monks.

What about the stereotyping of certain professions like Miners, Mountaineers, Pirates and Privateers, Boilermakers, Cowboys and Gauchos, Cornhuskers, Rivermen, Hatters and Loggers?

But let’s get back to Indians. As many as 11 US states are named after Indian tribes, or in the case of Indiana, after Indians generally. Fourteen others are named from Indian words. Who is going to enforce consistency here and make these states change their names, so they aren’t perceived as racist?

Now I will be the first to say that people groups populating the North America got a raw deal when European settlers arrived. Their land was stolen and they were often systematically annihilated. Those who survived were usually herded off into reservations. It is as shameful a past as that of other nations who have practiced genocide.

The NCAA should put its efforts behind improving the education of American Indians. Only 29% of the Indian population in the US are high school graduates. About 3% of Indians have two-year degrees. About 6% have Bachelor’s degrees.

The practice of mascots and nicknames for schools – and in particular their athletic programs – has provided an opportunity for the names of those tribes, or sometimes just the Indian heritage itself, to be remembered as they were before Europeans decided what was best for them and enforced it with the barrel of a gun. There is nothing racist about that. There is nothing “hostile or abusive” whether they specifically honour the Seminoles, Chippewa, Utes, Sioux, Choctaws, or Illini, or simply the “Braves” or the “Indians”.

Copyright 2005 – All rights reserved
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Proud of Desecration and Theft

This is one of the  most outrageous things I have seen in a long time. Last Thursday, an Auburn, Alabama city councilman trespassed on graves in a cemetary and desecrated them. Then he stole from them. In broad daylight. In front of descendants of the those interred there. And he’s proud of it.  They are, after all, the graves of Confederate soldiers.

Arthur L. Dowell was offended when he saw the Confederate flags placed on the graves of veterans in preparation for Confederate Memorial Day, a state holiday in Alabama. His justification? “It’s offensive to me,” he said. “To me, it represents the Ku Klux Klan and racism.” So, Arthur Dowell’s complete lack of historical knowledge outweighs the law. That’s why he felt it was okay to snap the pole of the flag that was on Mary Norman’s great-grandfather’s grave as he was putting it into his car.

He stole four flags, but unlike most thieves, he didn’t hide his stash. He showed it off to the local press. Then he promised to go back for more.

Unlike the dastardly motives he assumes for those who were honouring their ancestors, he was quite open about his. “If I had my way, I would have broke them all up and stomped on them and burned them.” Seems to me that makes what he did manage to do a hate crime.

When local citizen complained that the police shold take action, the mayor issued a statement saying, “I believe it would be in the best interest of all involved to settle their differences privately.” Is he suggesting that in every case of theft and criminal damage, the police should not uphold the law? Or is it just when it also constitutes a hate crime that doesn’t happen to be against blacks? The only appropriate description of the mayor might cause this blog to get blocked by some filters, since it refers to the poo of certain farmyard birds.

I’m not admitted to practice in Alabama, but it appears to me that Dowell should be charged with violating Alabama Code 13A-7-23 (Crminal mischief in the third degree), 13A-7-23.1 (Desecration, defacement, etc., of memorial of dead), 13A-7-26 (Criminal tampering in the second degree), 13A-8-5 (Theft of property in the third degree) and 13A-11-12 (Desecration of venerated objects).

It appears, however, that political correctness will be the deciding factor and he will not be charged with anything. Not only that, but despite the overwhelming disapproval of his actions, he will probably get re-elected because he represents a ward that was gerrymandered to insure a specific racial representation.


At Least They Admit It

The BBC admits that they treat Islam different than Christianity. The Director General of Britain’s public broacaster says that it is because they are a religious minority. What he means is that it is because if you were to make jokes about imams like the Beeb makes jokes about vicars, every one of the corporations executives and public figures would have to live in fear of their lives.

Can you imagine what would happen if they allowed a production about Muhammad like the live broadcast on BBC2 of Jerry Springer – the Opera, in which Jesus is part of a dysfunctional family, dresses as a baby and poos himself? The BBC Television Centre would be levelled.  The 2001 IRA bombing of the building would look completely amateur in comparison. This eggshell approach just another example of how terrorism is effective.

Mark Thompson has said that programmes criticising Islam would be broadcast if they of a good enough quality. It’s a shame the same standard doesn’t apply to Christianity.

Country Music Goes PC

As I have mentioned before, I’m a big fan of country music artist Taylor Swift. I may not fit her target demographic, but clearly she has a broad enough fan base to be the only female artist in the history of the Billboard country charts to have five consecutive Top 10 singles from a debut album.

I was pleased to learn that she got her high school diploma through a Christian homeschooling organisation. Families have to agree with Aaron Academy’s statement of faith. I’m guessing that means Taylor and her family are Christians.

I acquired a copy of the available-only-at-Wal-mart EP Beautiful Eyes. Since we have no Country radio in this country, I had never heard the radio mix of “Picture to Burn”. I was disappointed that the PC lobby apparently got to her record company. The lyrics originally said:

So go and tell your friends
That I’m obsessive and crazy,
That’s fine
I’ll tell mine
You’re gay,
And by the way,

Now the last part says:

That’s fine,
you won’t mind
if I say

The thing is that the original lyrics weren’t even offensive gay listeners, if the 90 comments on the 9513 blog are any indication. It’s only politically correct straight people who couldn’t get the context and the usage. The original lyric is about retaliation and fighting fire with fire. (Not exactly turn the other cheek stuff, but when have you ever known an offended young woman to thinkabout that when it comes to lying ex-boyfriends?) The new lyric makes no sense.

A perfectly good lyric has been sacrificed for the sake of a group who don’t even care.

The Cost of Multicultural Accommodation

Any Muslims dealing in either drugs or explosives will not have to worry about being sniffed out by police canine units. There will have to be exceptional circumstances – apparently above those that normally justify sniffer dogs – to search the property of a Muslim if the owner objects. That’s because not only do the police have to bend over backwards to avoid offending terrorists, but also because it takes a lot of effort to put special bootees on the dog.

That’s right. Dogs used in searching Muslim premises will now have to wear bootees so the dog itself does not touch anything belonging to a Muslim police suspect. This would obviously include their bombs. This does make sense if you think about it. After all, the bombs are being used for religious purposes. What will Allah think if they have been touched by a dog? Could this reduce the number of virgins to be enjoyed by the suicide bomber if he allows defiled bombs to blow up infidels?

But you want to really upset the Muslim community? Do what Tayside Police have done, and feature a puppy on a postcard. Because there is a puppy sitting on a police hat in an advertisement about the Scottish force’s new non-emergency phone number, Dundee shopkeepers of that religious persuasion (and there would seem to be a significant number) are refusing to display it.

There is no actual dog present on the postcard to touch the actual property of an Muslim, so there is no chance of actually defiling anything. I think there is a lesson in this for the BBC, ITV, and other broadcasters. They will need to avoid any programmes that feature dogs. It’s a good thing they haven’t been showing sheepdog trials and they will need to cut coverage of Crufts. I don’t know how Birmingham City Council, which governs one of the largest Muslims communities in Britain, has allowed the world’s largest dog show on it’s property (it’s one of the two shareholders of the NEC Arena) without Muslims staging a protest, picketing and threatening to kill everyone inside.

This is not absurd. The question is where do you draw the line of multiculturalism? Where is the limit of accommodation? For the Government of the Day, it is clearly more important than the protection of the realm. As I noted yesterday, for the Cheshire education authority, it is important enough to force children into idolatrous worship.

Today’s absurdities become tomorrow’s realities. We have seen this over and over.

I haven’t yet touched on this week’s statement by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, that aspects of Sharia law should be adopted in Britain. This follows the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year. Some people will say that since Beth Din courts are allowed by Orthodox Jews, why shouldn’t Sharia courts be allowed. Well, Sharia courts are already allowed – just not enforceable under English law. Orthodox Jews also have no agenda of bringing all of Britain under the 613 mitzvahs.

With all this accommodation, you would think that Muslims make up a significant minority in this country. Is it right that everything should be changed for 2%-3% of the population and that we should live in fear of whether or not we keep them happy? But it’s not even 2% of the population that are the issue. It is a much smaller minority – a minority within the minority. As reported in the Telegraph:

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Bar and a practising Muslim, said that allowing sharia in parts of the UK would be divisive.

He said: “This would create a two-tier society. It is highly retrograde. It will segregate and alienate the Muslim community from the rest of British society.

“The majority of British Muslims want to live only under British law and they would reject anything that means they are treated differently.

So why are we toeing a line continually re-drawn by radical Muslims? Have they already won the war on terrorism and we are afraid to challenge them? Are we really ruled by a bunch of lily-livered liberal multiculturalist sycophants? Do I even need to ask these rhetorical questions?

Banning Father’s Day

I was just going to write about how thousands of primary school children in Scotland were banned from making Father’s Day cards this year. Then I found out that the same thing happened at the school of an Unnamed Child in the heart of England. It’s probably even more widespread.

This has been done, as they said in Scotland, “in the interests of sensitivity” because of the growing number of single-parent households and children living with a mother and her lesbian partner. I’m hoping there’s none of the latter at the Unnamed Child’s school, as it is in direct violation of the dogma of the Church that runs the school.

Let’s set aside for a moment the children living in Gomorrah situations, as these are thankfully still less than normative. The sensitivity is really over the fact that 25% of children live with a single parent. They don’t want to make the children uncomfortable if they don’t have a father. And herein lies the specious reasoning.

Everyone has a father. I know that science and the Labour government are working to change that, but for now – and certainly for any child of school age – it took a sperm and an egg. Some children may have lost their father through death. This is a terrible thing, but this has always been the case and Father’s Day has never been cancelled because of it.

It is true that there are in increasing number of children who don’t know their father. This may be because their mother doesn’t know who the father is. Or it may be because the father has been marginalised. I know of more than a few cases whether the mother has simply cut the father out of the child’s life.

In most cases, however, the child knows who the father is and even has some sort of relationship with the father, even if his is not resident in the same home. It’s these father’s who get cut out of Father’s Day. As Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice, said: “I’m astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not. It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), said: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

An Unnamed Woman often suggests that rant too often about the “ought” instead accepting the “is”. (That is my terminology, not hers.) I was once told that I will never be successful unless I give up my pre-modern principles and accept the the ways of the modern world.  Perhaps this is true. But despite the 25% of families with a single resident parent, there are still 75% who have both parents resident. There are still most of the 25% who have a dad somewhere.

Most of all, there is still a need to remember that fathers are just as important as mothers.

Council-sponsored Muslim-only No-go Area

And they said there were no no-go areas.

In January, when Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali suggested in The Sunday Telegraph that some areas had become no-go zones for non-Muslims, he was excoriated on all sides. His fellow Anglican bishops distanced themselves from him. From Muslims he received death threats.

Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington has Muslim-only swimming on Sunday mornings. Actually, it is Muslim males-only swimming. I don’t have any problem with separate sessions for men. After all, leisure pools have long had some of their facilities set apart at times for women. And as long as there is equal access, I got no problem with that.

But Clissold Leisure Centre owned by Hackney Borough Council in north London doesn’t have a Christians-only swimming session.

So have Muslims created this no-go area? No. The Muslims don’t mind swimming with Christians. It’s the leisure centre employees who have done it. After David Toube and his son we refused admission, even by a manager, they went back several days later to speak to another leisure centre employee, who confirmed the Muslims-only policy.

Since this hit the news, the leisure centre’s tune has changed. Seems they don’t want to openly discriminate in the face of media exposure. The sessions may still be for Muslim men, but they now say that staff cannot ask about someone’s religion or refuse them entry if they don’t appear to be Muslim.