There is nothing safe from the creeping pox of political correctness anymore and this is evident by the intrusion of racial politics into the realm of sports. The ugly Super Bowl loss of black America’s hero, the dab-dancing Cam Newton and subsequent criticism of the choker’s pouty postgame press conference ignited a bitter outpouring of racial recriminations that served as one more log on the bonfire of racial discontent. But there is no bigger ongoing controversy than the use of Native American mascots and nicknames by the nation’s professional sports teams. With the NFL season now over, the long-running bitchfest over the Washington Redskins has been relegated to the back burner but with baseball now back the favorite punching bag for liberal whiners is the Cleveland Indians and the beloved Chief Wahoo. The team brass, clearly conscious of being made into a symbol of racism in an election year when the GOP brokered convention will be in town, has tried to placate critics by deemphasizing the use of the grinning logo.
The anti-Trump crusaders at the Washington Post Editorial Board weigh in with “The Cleveland Indians demote Chief Wahoo. Mr. Snyder should take note”:
Chief Wahoo first got kicked off the road cap of the Cleveland Indians. Next he got booted from the home batting helmet. Then he got nudged aside by the team’s emerging block-“C” logo. Just in time for the start of this year’s baseball season, the team officially demoted Chief Wahoo as its primary logo. This grinning, red-faced caricature that so many people see as an insult to Native Americans is on his way to being completely dropped, though not quickly enough. Let’s hope his inevitable demise opens the eyes of Washington’s football team to the reality that it needs to drop its offensive name.
“We do have empathy for those who take issue with it,” Indians owner Paul Dolan said last week in announcing the secondary role for the long-standing logo. “We have minimized the use of it and we’ll continue to do what we think is appropriate.” The announcement didn’t contain specifics about how the team’s usage of the logo will change, and Mr. Dolan was careful to include a paean to its importance as a “part of our history and legacy.”
But the acknowledgment of official discomfort was nonetheless significant. Activists calling for Chief Wahoo to be dropped can claim a symbolic victory that will energize their protests, which will not end now. Having minimized use of an admittedly inappropriate image, the team will find it increasingly difficult to explain why any use at all is acceptable.
The team should have settled the issue once and for all: Drop Chief Wahoo. Judging by the experience of college teams that have moved away from names demeaning Native Americans, any fan blowback would be short-lived. Perhaps, as some have suggested, the team is prolonging Chief Wahoo’s run to further capitalize on its marketing to fans who think his end may be near. At least, though, the Cleveland owners are moving in the right direction. In that, they offer a sharp contrast to Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder, who has been unwilling to recognize — or do something to correct — the offense caused by his team’s name.
While the Indians’ home opener was postponed due to cold weather a smattering of protesters still turned out for their cause. When the season belatedly opened on Tuesday the hometown Injuns ended up on the wrong end of a 6-2 score to the Boston Red Sox. Ironically the visitors hail from the town that was the former home of the Boston Redskins, a team that moved along with it’s politically incorrect nickname to the nation’s capital city way back in 1937.