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Monday, April 13, 2009
Wahoo on the way out?The Cleveland Indians, no doubt devoted ShysterBall readers all of them, are starting to ratchet back Chief Wahoo's profile:
Observant visitors to spring training this year to see the Indians in their new complex in Goodyear, Ariz., may have noticed something missing. Outside of the Indians' uniforms, caps and the bustling gift shop at Goodyear Ballpark, Chief Wahoo, the longtime symbol of the team, was absent from the facility . . .
Not that I would expect some formal announcement from the team along those lines anyway. My feelings on Wahoo notwithstanding, the Indians aren't some public entity with a responsibility to set the tone in big capital letters and thereby risk alienating the folks who disagree with me on this point. What matters, in my mind, is not what they say, but how they behave, and if they are truly working to diminish the prevalence of Chief Wahoo, good for them.
If they want my advice -- and I'm sure they don't -- the next step is to strike Wahoo from the sleeves of those sweet alternate home jerseys. Then replace the batting helmets with the new "C" logo. Last step will be to make the alternates the permanent home uniforms -- which should be done for reasons separate and apart from Wahoo -- thereby banishing Wahoo from the players' duds.
That, combined with the already lower profile of Wahoo in recent years (e.g. scoreboard, etc.), will go a long damn way to fixing a damn big problem.
(Thanks to Pete Toms who shot me the link via Ballparks Digest)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:21pm
@ Jack Mashall - It is hard for me to call people asking that racist images, such as Chief Wahoo or Sambo, “grievance bullies and political correctness fanatics” and that actions taken by organizations to remove such hurtful images as “incipient censorship”. Also, equating your choice to have a silly caricature drawn by the mall artist with centuries of oppression is an apples and elephant comparison. If you care to learn more about some of the negative effect of racist caricatures I have provided some links below as I think your perspective may be limited.
Posted 04/14 at 05:01 PM
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the Queen and her family have filed a lawsuit and gotten an injuction against the major league club in Kansas City for the audacity of using the name “Royals”.
When asked for a comment, the Queen replied, “I don’t know who these colonials think they are, trying to associate themselves with my birthright. If this was London, I could have tortured by having lunch with Charles. He would give them a good talking to.”
Latest word from Kansas City General mis-Manager Dayton Moore is that, until the suit is settled, and in order to prove that he does have a sense of humor, (because not everyone knows how much money Farnsworth is making) the team will be known as the Walks.
This will, of course, lead to confusion in Kansas City, as they will no longer be able to use the headline ‘Kansas City Walks’, because it hasn’t happened in 3 years.
This will cause Joe Posnanski to write a 12 million word post on his blog, leading to his fingers actually being worn to the nub.
Good times for baseball in Kansas City.
Posted 04/14 at 07:00 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Moose: I stand by my comment, stop arguing with things I didn’t say, and spare me your more-sensitive-than-thou enlightenment. Cartoons don’t “oppress” anyone, especially cartoons that symbolize beloved sports franchises. I agree that Chief Wahoo is one of the genuinely offensive logos and I wouldn’t miss him, but people like you can’t tell the difference between offensive and inoffensive. Banning speech, offensive or not, is offensive to me, but be my guest: advocate it, Draw a picture, even.
Posted 04/14 at 11:31 PM
It is still pretty confusing to me that something innocuous as a charicature of an ethnic group causes such a reaction, while there are logos out there like the Hurricanes or for Christ’s sake the Tulane Green Wave that are representative of people actually dying that get off scott free. And if Chief Wahoo reminds you of the Trail of Tears, well then you are beyond hope.
Posted 04/15 at 07:39 AM
I just realized that I’m offended by lots of stuff. The Trojan guy from USC…ohhh it makes me so angry. OH and the Popeye Spartan guy from Mich St. How offensive. And that completely offensive swinging Padre cartoon guy. It makes me so mad. Don’t get me started on the offense I take at the “fighting Irish” the cartoon leprichan is reprehensible. Ohhhh the humanity.
Posted 04/15 at 08:09 AM
how can anyone look @ Wahoo and not think that’s a racist logo?
people may love it, but that doesn’t make it right.
chief wahoo was introduced in, what, 1947?
america has grown up quite a bit from that time, no? why is it so hard to let go of something that is so obviously not right in its current state?
obviously, the cleveland organization has every right to use it - but that doesn’t mean they should use it.
it’s 2009. let’s embrace how far we’ve come as a nation rather than hold on to an old stereotype just because “we like it” even though it’s so obviously inappropriate.
Posted 04/15 at 08:59 AM
@Jack - As an educator I greatly appreciate discussion and dialogue and use it as a common teaching practice and in that process want to have a wide diversity of views presented. I am not advocating that an entity, such as MLB, force Cleveland to remove the logo however I do wish that the team would recognize that harmful impact of the logo.
As for my ‘enlightment’, maybe I do view the world differently because I am married to a black woman who has African, Puerto Rican, Native American and Irish hertitage. Maybe I view the world differently because I have listened to stories about how painful offensive speech can be. Maybe I do struggle knowing my 3 yo daughter has been exposed to cartoons that portray caricature of people of color and plant insidious little seeds of being considered less than someone else. Maybe I do take this a little more personal than others because I know that my little girl will someday be called the n-word or halfrican and that day is coming sooner than later. But I’d rather be the enlighted person that I have become than the person that I was that did not understand just how painful and long-lasting the effect of hateful speech and images can have.
Posted 04/15 at 09:28 AM
Jack Marshall said...
Offense is often in the mind of the beholder, and one individual’s perception of offense should not dictate conduct. Most people, I think, even those who are not hypersensitive, would agree that Chief Wahoo is anachronistic and vaguely embarrassing at best. Calling the logo “hateful,” however, is exactly the kind of over-reaching I object to. The image was obviously not intended as a tool of hate: people do not use “hateful” images to symbolize a community’s baseball team. Nor was hate ever intended, since the Indians were named to HONOR a Native American. (Even the currently offensive team name “Redskins” had an innocent origin: when the Boston Braves NFL team moved its home to Fenway Park, it wanted to keep the Native American theme but show its relationship to the AL Red Sox in Fenway rather than the rival Braces. So some genius had the idea of changing the name to RedSKINS to match the Red SOX. The name should go, but even that clearlly racist name wasn’t intended “hatefully.”)
Posted 04/15 at 12:40 PM
Charles Brown said...
Kudos to the Indians organization for eliminating a beloved team symbol to enforce correct attitudes among an ignorant populace. I was born with a large (size 8 1/2) head. All my life, I have had to endure painful ridicule from insensitive people who complain that I block out the sun’s rays and that they can’t see the movie when seated behind me in a theatre. For years, I have waged a campaign against Mr. Met, the bulbous-domed mascot of the Mets, and his cousin, the nefariously derivative Cincinnati Redleg. Every time I see the supposedly comic images of these two corporate shills, I am reminded of my lifetime of pain and struggle, as well as the fact that I need to pick up a case of Prell on my way home. please join our celebrity spokesperson, Minnie Driver, and thousands of grandly-pated individuals in standing up and saying “no” to bigheaded mascots.
Posted 04/15 at 12:42 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
“since the Indians were named to HONOR a Native American.”
Except that is completely untrue. It’s a myth that has been debunked over and over.
“The image was obviously not intended as a tool of hate”
If you do something with innocent intentions but later find out that your actions were insensitive and hurtful to unintended third parties, do you simply blow it off and ignore it? Is it ethical to wash one’s hands of the unintended consequences we set in motion?
Posted 04/15 at 12:43 PM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Jack, one more thing:
“Offense is often in the mind of the beholder, and one individual’s perception of offense should not dictate conduct.”
This is exactly the kind of relativism you have criticized when applied to steroids. Why is it acceptable now. A racist caricature is either OK or not OK. Which is it, Jack?
Posted 04/15 at 12:45 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Craig—to answer your questions 1) maybe yes, maybe no. and 2)Depends on how you balance the equation.
Thanks for the clarification on Lou S., though it doesn’t change the fact that the logo is not “hateful,” and wasn’t. In this case, I think there’s no benefit or need sufficient to justify keeping the symbol, so the answer to both questions would be “yes.” In the case of cutting the Indian numbers in the musicals “Peter Pan” and “Annie Get your Gun”, or the “Rape” song in “The Fantastiks”, or much of “Show Boat,” including “Old Man River,” on the other hand, I think the balance goes the other way. Take “Peter Pan”: the “Indians” in that show are kids’ storybook Indians obviously unmoored to reality. The number, now often cut or replaced by a real stinker, is a good one. If someone is offended by it, they should avoid “Peter Pan.” It’s a period piece. How do you feel about “Huckleberry Finn?” Is is hateful? LOTS of people are offended by that one.
Posted 04/15 at 12:56 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Wait a minute! “Racist” and “offensive” and “hateful” are simply not absolute terms, and I do NOT have to agree with the assessment of anyone or everyone, no matter how sincere. I don’t endorse relativism, but some things are indeed relative.
Posted 04/15 at 01:00 PM
Jack: The intent behind many of these images/caricatures being discussed was based on overt prejudices and were parts of intentional acts to discriminate - which in my book fall into the hate category. That is the main reason I included the links in a previous post because movies such as ‘Birth of a Nation’, images of Sambo, Chief Wahoo and the many of the cartoon I adored growing up were designed in large part to maintain a certain social order with the dominant white culture clearly superior to all others. The documentaty Ethnic Notion demonstrates this well regarding negative images associated with blacks.
My intent was to inform by sharing an few examples as to how such an image can hurt others and secondly to provide some additional materials that may help others see the issue from a perspective they may not have previously regarded. Whether the receiver accepts what I share is on them and it appears that you may see it as bunk, another example of a PC culture run amok or some sort of challenge to your worldview. While I believe that you do not fully appreciate the levels of harm associated with such images I believe otherwise and it appears that we will agree to disagree on such matters.
Posted 04/15 at 02:09 PM
Jack Marshall said...
Moose, that’s swell with me, provided that “agree to disagree” doesn’t mean that you tell me what I have to be offended by to avoid being labeled as “racist” and “hateful.”
Posted 04/15 at 02:22 PM
Jack: I never labeled you or anyone else and have not attempted to make this personal in any way and if for some reason you felt I had, then I apologize.
Posted 04/15 at 02:45 PM
Real American said...
Common Man, you need to learn how to argue correctly. I disagree that Wahoo is racist. People disagree with me. That’s fine. That’s the debate. It isn’t “reality” that Wahoo is racist. Your whole argument is premised on your belief that Wahoo is a racist caricature. But you’re simply arguing that Wahoo is racist because its racist. That’s called circular reasoning. This a debate with more than one side.
Anyway, this debate is entirely about perception because, as I argued and you admit, no one is injured here. I don’t see Wahoo and think bad things about Native Americans. You do. The problem is with you and those like you. Not me. If people stop and think for a second about how Wahoo actually injures them, they would not care either way because it does not do anything. But some people are dying to be offended and will be offended no matter what. They won’t stop with Wahoo. They want the Redskins to change their name. they want the Braves to change their name. It will never stop. They destroy tradition and history and icons that don’t fit in with political correctness that stifles freedom and creativity and thought.
Posted 04/15 at 06:22 PM
They should scrap Indians all together. Using human beings as mascots is unacceptable in this day and age.
Posted 04/17 at 09:35 AM
Jack Marshall said...
Oh Rich: Because it’s unacceptable to YOU, it’s unacceptable, right? I guess that makes you the Ultimate Arbiter of Acceptable Graphics and Communications. Glad to know that. Presumably, you mean logos AND mascots (there is no Chief Wahoo running around that I’ve ever seen), so the Quaker Oats Quaker, the Doublemint Twins, Mister Clean and Betty Crocker are also “unacceptable,” along with the Pittsburgh Pirate, the Twins, and the Padre. It’s OK, though, to have under-paid human beings sweating in furry costumes as mascots, or do you object to animal mascots too? Cartoons are obviously out, right? (Chief Wahoo isn’t a real person, you know)...really, I think we need a detailed memo from you and your ultra-pompous and doctrinaire fellow thought- and image police comrades to let us know exactly what is “acceptable” to look at, laugh at, smile at, roll our eyes at or just ignore.
Posted 04/18 at 03:10 PM