Saturday, February 11, 2006

Free the Red Raiders

I think there is an irony in the Indian-themed mascot controversy that is largely unremarked upon. It seems to me that these nicknames, at the time they were adopted, reflected a certain degree of respect. The MJS editorial board and liberal blogger Carrie Lynch seem distressed that the name "Red Raiders", for example, connotes "an element of bellicosity" and is "predatory" or "hostile." The unstated assumption is that this is derogatory.

Maybe so, but I don't know that it was intended to be. When it comes to competitive sports, the connotation of bellicosity is generally regarded as a good thing. My son graduated from Homestead High School whose teams are known as the Highlanders. When you enter the school's campus there is a statue of a Scottish warrior with a very big sword. I do not think the message that this intends to send is an affirmation of the Scottish Enlightenment with its commitment to reasoned discourse and tolerance. Think Braveheart, not David Hume. I am half Scots-Irish. I suppose that I could complain that this does not reflect the true role of Scotsmen in the world, but I would be manufacturing offense.

Indian-themed nicknames, it seems to me, were largely adopted because those who chose them wanted to invoke a certain image of the nobility and bravery which they found expressed in the mythic Native American warrior. You can argue that this myth is inaccurate or that it is not one that today's Native Americans wish to see propagated, but it wasn't a sign of disrespect.

I don't have a huge problem with removing Native American imagery that bothers people today. But once you get rid of images like Tommy Raider and Willie Wampum, names like Red Raiders and Warriors are pretty generic. To demand that they be eliminated because they once were associated with an image that we have now decided was inappropriate is both unnecessary and revealing. It seems rooted more in the desire of those demanding the change to show their supposed moral rectitude than it is the need to remove any remaining offense.

8 comments:

elliot said...

See? There you go being all diplomatic again.

Being pissed and ranting is a lot more fun.

;)

jp said...

I think the moral police are more dangerous than the wiretappers. While I don't always agree with you, I enjoy the pissing and ranting.

Reddess from Roscommon said...

I get so angry and frustrated when Shark and/or Shepherd gets all diplomatic. I, for one,enjoy a good rant and rave. I suppose part of it is the lawyer in him.

jp said...

After reading the comment from reddress, I would like to change my comment (1:59 PM) to I enjoy the rant and rave.

elliot said...

I've been dying to know, what's "Reddess from Roscommon" mean?

Rick Esenberg said...

The Reddess is Mrs. S & S. I made up the name for some reason that I can no longer recall because she has red hair (kind of looks like Reba McIntyre) and is Irish.

elliot said...

Knew it was the Mrs.

But thought it might be from some very interesting book I might have missed.

Nick said...

I say they rename themselves to the "Bing Playing Grannies". Their logo could be a pair of false teeth biting down on a casino chip. At least that would truly reflect the Indian tribes as they are today.