Saturday, January 27, 2007


Post Sportswriter Mike Wise certifies his PC-ness

The Washington Post has a recent tradition of sportswriters who are seemingly embarrassed by the fact that they are sportswriters. Instead they can come off as longing to be considered of a more serious ilk. So they sprinkle their prose with reminders that they do indeed have a social conscience and thus should be considered doing important work. The Deans of all of them are Michael Wilbon and Leonard Shapiro but there is a new kid in town who just might be giving them a run for the title:

Mike Wise...who today laments that Illinois [is] Still on the Offensive.

Yet when we come across the most serious and offensive issue on campus -- a hurtful reminder to a people of their grave mistreatment, a blatant misappropriation of their religious and spiritual practices -- we go into denial.”

He’s writing about the use of Chief Illinewek as the Symbol of the University of Illinois. In doing so, he makes obvious that his research on this matter probably consisted of little more than putting his pinkie up to see which way the Political Correctness winds were blowing.

This article may as well have been written by the NCAA‘s laughably titled Office for Diversity and Inclusion. That office has arrowheaded (heh, heh) the NCAA’s efforts to rid the world of Indian-sounding names and symbols. But this has all the makings of what Thomas Sowell so pithily described as “Self-Congragulation as a Basis for Social Policy”. In fact, true to the Liberal Mantra of “Trust us, we know what is best for you”, the proposed beneficiaries of these efforts at racial sensitivity don’t seem to fully comprehend just how badly they need them:

“Here's the most important finding: "Asked if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames, 81 percent of Native American respondents said no. As for pro sports, 83 percent of Native American respondents said teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters, and symbols." John J. Miller on Sport Teams & Indian Names

And yet to be identified are those schools and colleges that chose these symbols in a deliberate attempt to demean Native Americans. Would they have us presume that, while most schools pick their symbols and nicknames for the positive traits so associated, those institutions choosing Indian symbols were instead just out to have a good laugh at some minority’s expense?

My own lodestar as to just how serious and sensitive the likes of a Mike Wise are for the plights of those who ancestry is appropriated in supposedly "hurtful" ways is Notre Dame. Here is a school bearing a French name that doesn’t just refer to itself as the Irish but rather the “Fighting Irish”. And its representation of this moniker is a Leprechaun, posed in a pugilistic stance. Yet, I find no instance of Mike Wise publicly troubled by such a shameless exploitation of a stereotype.

Of course, taking on Notre Dame would mean taking on a nationwide constituency. Much easier instead to take on an a more-regionally based Illinois faithful, convienently located halfway across the country; this way he still gets to point to his column and say “See, I make a difference” without all the attendant hassle of, you know, really making a difference.

For The Record and Full Disclosure: My ancestry is 50% Irish and I am decidedly not a Notre Dame fan. Still, I can’t get at all worked up as offended by their use of the “Fighting Irish” nickname. However if, like members of other groups, I begin to sense the possibility of a cash settlement, I reserve the right to heighten my sensitivity to such an obviously demeaning portrayal of my ancestors.

Oh yeah, I have a brother-in-law who is a UofI grad. But he's never given me (and I've never worn) any Chief Illinewek (or for that matter, any Illinois) emblazoned dear Brother-in-Law, if you read this...

Wow, your blog is refreshing blast of reason in an oh-so-politically correct world.

I read Wise's article with the same irritation that I have experienced so often when it comes to this issue.

I mean, listen to this guy: The Chief is "the most serious and offensive issue on campus."

Really? Damn, I guess students at Illinois have it pretty good. Apparently no one is having any trouble paying tuition and buying groceries. All of our other life struggles have apparently fallen away.

Of course, Wise doesn't know about several students who have been killed in pedstrian-bus collisions in the last few years. And I don't think he cares, in any event.

What I can't fathom is the race to victimhood that permeates liberal politics. Why the fascination with going out of your way to get your feelings hurt?

The truth is, the Chief is a nice tradition that most people like and a precious few on each end of the spectrum are way too zealous about.

Illinois is hardly a racist instituion, and if you were to examine the blogs / Facebooks of students everywhere, you would find lots of intemperate speech on every controversial topic.

I just wonder what the Charlene Teeters and Debbie Reese's will find to talk about when the Chief is retired later this year. I imagine that another injustice will present itself, they just haven't decided what it is yet.
Welcome & Thanks "big e" (any relation to Elvin Hayes?)...good point about the "most serious" issue designation. Getting rid of the Chief is clearly a solution in search of a problem.
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