If Chief Wahoo Must Go, Then So Does Old Glory
After watching an episode of ABC’s This Week, which was so riddled with inane blather about which Fascist party lost more with the the government shutdown thing and gushing speculation over the Presidential election of 2016 that even George Stephanopolous had the sense to stay away, a local political talking heads show came on.
There was some speculation about whether or not Governor John Kasich has the votes in Columbus to get his Medicaid expansion tomorrow(consensus: he probably does), and then the conversation segued to that far greater evil–Chief Wahoo. That’s right, Chief Wahoo, the mascot of the Cleveland Indians baseball team. It seems that the Wahoo-haters had been given additional fuel by some remark Obama made on the subject.
Chief Wahoo, the grinning, very red, very cartoonish emblem still seen on some Cleveland Indians uniforms and ball caps(yes, I wear one from time to time). The inspiration for Cleveland fans in Major League. The jolly laughing buddha of sports mascots. Yes, that Chief Wahoo symbolizes oppression of the Native American people and white racism towards the same, and must go, and public opinion is irrelevant according to the Wahoo-haters.
You see, opinion polls that show 80% of Northeastern Ohioans in favor of keeping the traditional Indians mascot don’t count. Apparently, the outrage expressed by self-proclaimed Native American activists who often have Hispanic surnames, a few genuine Native American activists, and probably a few more bourgeois white liberals is what should count, according to at least one of the panelists.
I’m not going to get into the merits of this insignificant and distractive debate here, except to say that I think the whole thing is, well, silly. But I will take their argument to its logical conclusion.
The premise of the Wahoo-haters, and of those who want the names of the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Braves changed is this. If a symbol is associated with pain, racism, oppression, genocide, slavery, or some other Great Evil, then it should not be used. If we follow that logic, then the Stars and Stripes need to be hauled down forthwith.
Think about it. Custer and Chivington did not ride into Native American villages and massacre women and children under the banner of Chief Wahoo. The United States did not seize a third of the territory claimed by Mexico under flags with Indian chiefs, tomahawks, or war-feathers in a blatant war of imperial expansion. Atomic bombs were not dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki bearing the emblem of the Cleveland baseball team, a million Vietnamese and over 50,000 Americans did not die in Indochina under the burgundy and gold of the Redskins, and the current wars and drone strikes dragging on in Southwest Asia are not being conducted under the aegis of the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, or with even the approval of most Indians fans driving around in Chief Wahoo baseball caps.
No, all of the above were, and are, done under the flag which we are all asked to honor before the start of every freaking sporting event in this country: Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Star-Spangled Banner. The crimes and atrocities committed in the name of America, for the sake and the honor of that national emblem, are far more odious than anything ever even conceived of by the wearers of Chief Wahoo, much less the ideal of the Chief himself.
So. For all of you out there that think Chief Wahoo or the Redskins or pick the mascot you disapprove of simply MUST banned, I’ll join you on one condition: if, and only if, you demand a new national flag. Old Glory is so soaked in oppression and repression and racism and atrocity that it simply must go, by your own logic. If not, then quit complaining about sports mascots. We have far bigger fish to fry, anyway.