Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What's In a Name?
The multicultural gang is at it again, attempting to force the NCAA to get it's member schools to drop team nicknames that might be considered offensive, especially to Native Americans. The NCAA's reply is simply to allow members to continue to use such names unless the school involved in engaged in a playoff situation or appear on national television or somesuch nonsense.

This tempest in a teacup involves the mascot for the University of Florida, who is supposed to represent a Seminole Warrior (UF's sports teams are all named "Seminoles"). Apparently, the Seminole tribe in Florida has no problem whatsoever with the use of the name or the representation of a noble savage, but (there's always a "but") another tribe of Seminoles (this one in Oklahoma or Arkansas or something) does object to it. Now, I do nopt know the difference between the Florida Seminoles and the Ur-Seminoles of Wherever, and I don't really care. What I do care about is:

a) the constant attempt by the perpetually panty-bunched to make mountains of molehills with their pansy emotional whining.

b) the shallow, transparent, self-serving position taken by the NCAA.

To start with the whiners, let's get a thing or two straight: the Native Americans are a defeated and conquered race. There is no disputing this fact. While the ways in which they were defeated can be called into question (and very often should), those who wish to continue to wallow in self-pity are a very small but incredibly vocal minority. The American Indians are not the only ethnic group to have people like this: the black community in America has legions of flapping rectums as well. As do hispanics, jews, italians, etc. There are certainly a lot of people with entirely too much free time on their hands who just lay in wait like spiders for something even quasi-offensive to surface so that they can pounce. They wouldn't have jobs if they didn't behave this way.

Having said all this, I must point out that the practice of naming sports teams after defeated warrior races is almost a uniquely American form of tribute. I seriously doubt the British name their teams after Zulus and Kachins. I would be hard pressed to find a Chinese team named after something Tibetan. I'll bet it's near impossible to find a Russian sports team that tries to evoke the nobler aspects of the Uzbeks. The point is, that when teams are named after tribes or other manifestations of American Indian culture, it is intended to convey what we consider to be the war-like aspects of Indian culture transferred to sports (hence, Warriors, Braves, Blackhawks, Seminoles, Fighting Sioux, etc) and evoke "noble savage" romanticism. It is a sincere form of flattery --- we may have defeated you, but we respect and admire your spirit and fortitude.

It certainly can get out of hand. I'll give you that "Redskins" is very offensive, but does that mean that all references to Indians have to be removed?

As for the NCAA, it wants to have it both ways: it wishes to be seen as culturally sensitive while not watering down it's brand names. No one would tune in to watch the University of Florida Grapefruits (or some other culturally-acceptible, non-specific name) because no one would know who they were. The NCAA wants to keep Seminoles associated with UF and it's long history of sports excellence, but not when people are watching. Hence all the nonsense of changing the names only when TV gets involved.

I say we should dump the more offensive names, the ones that clearly have racial overtones, but I hardly find the "Seminole" legend offensive. Then again, I don't have scads of free time and a built-in-from-birth racial axe to grind.

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