In addition to some spirited discussion in the comments thread, Wednesday’s post about Chief Wahoo brought about an email from the folks at the Cleveland Frowns blog thanking me for raising the issue. Given their singular devotion to Cleveland sports, the Cleveland Frowns guys have spent a lot more time thinking about this than I have and, not surprisingly, have a much more thoughtful take on the subject. From their signature post on Wahoo last summer, some words worth remembering:
Those who want to bury Wahoo have to acknowledge why he has lasted so long — that in doing so they would be burying more than a racist caricature; they would be burying a part of our childhood and our culture. They must acknowledge that our collective attachment to Wahoo has little to nothing to do with an intent to disparage a race of people. So much of the resistance to attempts to get rid of Wahoo is a natural reaction by Tribe fans who feel that those who protest Wahoo are accusing them of racism, and telling them that there is something fundamentally wrong with those magical trips to the ballgame. This would offend anyone’s sense of justice. These activists must acknowledge the innocent aspects of our attachment to Wahoo before their appeals to his harmful effect will ever be well-received.
Once Tribe fans believe that our love for Wahoo is understood, we will be more apt to ask ourselves why we would want to be attached any longer to a symbol as potentially demeaning to a race of people as Wahoo is.
The Frowns’ have couched their anti-Wahoo campaign in a curse they believe his visiage has brought down upon Cleveland sports. I don’t believe in curses (or Buddha, Manta, Gita, Yoga, kings, Elvis, Zimmerman or Beatles) but one need not believe in them in order to want to relegate Chief Wahoo to the dustbin of history. Likewise, one need not demonize as racist the Indians’ fans who grew up with Wahoo and take issue with folks who think like I do on the subject.
Either way, I highly recommend that you read the Cleveland Frowns’ post because it is devoid of the kneejerk p.c. sentiment so many people accuse the anti-Wahoo camp of harboring. And if their arguments convince you, sign their petition to retire Chief Wahoo.