The Woke Mob comes for sports…
Since the police murder of George Floyd and the subsequent riots, the Woke left has waged a war against American history and iconography. The mob has toppled statues of Confederates, Founding Fathers, Abolitionists, and Christopher Columbus. In San Francisco they brought down a statue of Francis Scot Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner. Taking note of this act of vandalism, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial calling for the national anthem to be changed. Said the piece ‘the very idea of a national anthem, a hymn to the glory of country, feels like a crude relic, another monument that may warrant tearing down.’
Simultaneously, the Woke have attacked corporations that use African American and Native American imagery. Some of these images are iconic and have been part of American life for generations. Victims include the Land of Lakes Native American ‘butter maiden’, the African American woman portrayed on the Aunt Jemima breakfast foods logo, and the African American chef on the box of Cream of Wheat. In this way, the Woke systematically remove Native and African American iconography from American life
Now, the Woke have come for sports franchises with Native American nicknames. Their most prominent target is the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. The left has long claimed the nickname is offensive and racist and, last week, Redskins owner and superfan Daniel Snyder announced that the team is ‘retiring’ the Redskins nickname.
2020 being what it is, this lifelong fan of the New York Football Giants feels compelled to come to the defense of the division rival and much loathed Washington Redskins. The Woke do not care that Gallup polled Native Americans about the Redskins name and 90% of them don’t care, or that many Indian reservation high school football teams are nicknamed the Redskins, or that the Redskins’ Indianhead logo was designed by a Native American and depicts Black Foot chief John ‘Two Guns’ White Calf.
Native American sports team nicknames aren’t meant to be insulting. Nobody looks back on the Indian wars, the Indian Removal Act, Wounded Knee, or The Trail of Tears with pride. The nation has been trying to make amends ever since. The government set aside large tracts of land for semi-autonomous reservations. In 1924, Native Americans were made citizens by act of congress. Today, the nation reveres and honors Native Americans. Great leaders like Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Geronimo are considered American heroes. The United States military names combat systems for native tribes, the Bell Kiowa helicopter and the Apache helicopter gunship, for instance. Paratroopers shout ‘Geronimo’ as they jump out of airplanes.
Americans have been naming sports teams for Indians since the early 20th century. Every American sports league has at least a few Native American nicknames. Chicago’s National Hockey League team is named the Blackhawks. Baseball has the Cleveland Indians, founded in 1901, and the Atlanta Braves whose fans perform the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ in which one makes a chopping motion to the beat of Native American warpath music. The Super Bowl Champion Kansas Chiefs brandish an Indian Arrowhead helmet logo, they also do the Tomahawk chop, as do the Florida State Seminoles, where the custom originates. These nicknames are honorifics, a way for Americans to pay tribute to people respected and admired. While there are hundreds of amateur and professional sports teams named for Native American tribes, there are none, for example, named for the Belgians.
The Woke won’t stop with Native American nicknames. Not hardly. This week The Washington Post published an editorial calling for Baseball’s Texas Rangers to change their name. You see, The Post reasoned the Texas Rangers can be associated with racism and Jim Crow. For foreign readers, the Texas Rangers are a legendary law enforcement organization that has fought Indians, Banditos, Yankees, and just about every unsavory sort that ever roamed the great state of Texas. When foreigners think of horse riding, cowboy hat wearing, Winchester Rifle carrying Texas lawmen, they’re thinking of the Texas Rangers.
In 2013, Daniel Snyder proclaimed, ‘We will never change the name of the team.’ He should have stood his ground. The Woke aren’t placated by the Redskins’ name change. Capitulating to them is like putting chum in shark-infested waters and there is sure to be endless debate about a new team name whatever that may be. Daniel Snyder has yet to make an announcement. Rumor has it he’ll rename the Redskins the ‘Red Tails’ after a black Army Air Corps in World War Two, the famous Tuskegee Airmen. Doing so allows him to honor other Americans and keep ‘Red’ in the team name. But hold on. When having an African American chef on your Cream of Wheat box is racist, renaming a team for African American war heroes may also be problematic. The Woke go looking for ‘systemic racism’ in every corner and under every bed, when they’ll find it amongst themselves.
William Stroock, author of military fiction, commentator