It’s Monday night, and tonight I cannot find my remote for my TV. It’s around here somewhere. I turned it on earlier, but now I’m on my second hour of watching WWE’s Monday Night Raw. Good ol’ professional wrasslin’ — a business that has survived by promoting the hell out of racial stereotypes for decades.
Another business that survived and profited by promoting a racial stereotype is the University of Illinois. The NCAA and the University finally realized that in 2007, and put Chief Illiniwek to rest.
Sadly, the sensibility of the governing body of collegiate athletics and the University has been lost on a huge amount of people. I know this because, as I watched the first hour of Monday Night Raw, I stumbled across John Foreman’s embarrassingly juvenile opinion piece in The News-Gazette entitled “No symbol can fill void left by Chief Illiniwek.”
I’m not going to beat a dead horse here and explain why the Chief Illiniwek is racist as hell. There are a lot more qualified people that can do that in blog posts or videos — like this one or this one.
Instead, I’d like to address a few of John’s points:
1. [Chief Illiniwek] offended some people — not too many, but some — because he caricatured Native Americans.
Oh, John. The last two leaders of the Peoria tribe went on record saying Chief Illiniwek was not representative of Native American tribes from Illinois. Nobody gives a shit if it offends Caucasians or even you. If it offends the leadership group of the people you’re portraying, you’re doing it wrong.
Actually, I think you make that point yourself: “And it is wrong — certainly in this day and age — to caricature anyone as anything without their unanimous consent.”
2. Perhaps [Chancellor Phyllis Wise] truly embraces the liberal orthodoxy that requires removing Christmas trees from dining halls and politically incorrect chicken stands from the UI Union's food courts and Native American symbols from everything, all for fear of being politically incorrect.
I have a hard time understanding how someone who writes an opinion column is okay with taking the side of something they readily admit is “incorrect.”
Whether it be politically correct, grammatically correct, or whatever, it makes absolutely NO SENSE to give the finger to any kind of correctness. Can you imagine how much money Alex Trebek would have to give away if Jeopardy didn’t have standards for correct answers?
3. Our symbol — unless it's supposed to be that empty outline — is a capital letter "I," which stands for Indiana or Iowa or Idaho or Iona or, perhaps, Irony.
Yes, John, the word you so chose to capitalize here is apparently lost on you when you go on to suggest:
“Symbols are important in uniting large groups and communicating to them on the simplest level.”
How would Chief Illiniwek’s gyrating have prevented giving up 24 points in the third quarter to Louisiana Tech last September? Was the crowd not united enough? This leads to the next, and overarching, point of this idiocy:
4. For some people, the void created by his absence is a trifling problem. What does it matter? These are many of the same people who would tell you that college sports — where the combined salaries of a few coaches far exceed those of all the deans — are not important either.
It’s because it IS a trifling problem, John. You see, for all of your misguided viewpoints on whether or not Chief Illiniwek is racist or not (it is), you fail to understand that the cool symbol that unites fans is a winning team. If a cool symbol was indicative of fandom do you think ANYONE would want to go to Indiana? That symbol looks like the pipes in Super Mario Bros. if they were painted red.
Nobody cares if your team is the Flying Turds as long as you win.
Hell, I’d happily sport Illinois Flying Turd gear if it meant that Tim Beckman got canned and the Illini went 8–4.
It’s simple: Win some friggin’ games and the Chief Illiniwek thing kinda becomes less important. When all you can pay attention to is a team that is 2–10 and is coached by a half-wit or getting blown out at home by Northwestern, you might look for some other reason that fans aren’t as passionate about your program.
I hate to break it to you, John, but that symbol doesn’t matter. In the Big Ten this is the symbol that matters.