This is not a political post, but stay with me a moment. Chief Illiniwek, the formerly banned mascot of the University of Illinois, returned this week. You may or may not have strong feelings about that. His return defeats "[a] victory 20 years in the making" 20 years being, I guess, when something happened that caused Chief Illiniwek to get retired last year. You may or may not have strong feelings about that. But what a strange "victory in the making" to claim immediately prior to this:
...Illinois chancellor Richard Herman declared that the Homecoming ban violated the U.S. constitution saying, "The University values free speech and free expression and considers Homecoming floats, decorations, costumes and related signage all representations of such personal expression."
Yes, our forefathers fought and died to protect the right to display caricatures of the conquered at public institutions of higher learning.
Whether or not you feel strongly about the Chief in this instance is neither here nor there; the US Constitution does have something to say about freedom of speech, even the kind you may or may not feel strongly about. That said, the 1st Amendment only protects you from the Government abridging the freedom to speech, not from the NCAA, but whatev. Be indignant about Chief Illiniwek without trying to second guess what "our forefathers fought and died to protect". (Forefathers? Founding fathers you mean. Many Americans, myself for instance, are not ancestors of the people who wrote the Constitution, which required not a single person to kill themselves to execute. 'Forefathers' is a term that refers to ancestry. And were there a question about what they died to protect, I wouldn't resolve it by reading Sports Illustrated, I'd just go read the Constitution.) Moving on, here's what this has to do with the Redskins:
Bellecourt spent years as a thorn in the side of organizations like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, demanding that they change their mascots. He once said, "Our detractors always say, 'We are honoring you.' It's not an honor. In whose honor, we have to ask. Beginning with the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, about 16 million of us were wiped out, including whole villages in Washington."
To other teams with Indian nicknames and to their fans, he said, "No more chicken feathers ... No more paint on faces. The chop stops here."
I've already stated my position on the Redskins here and elsewhere repeatedly: I don't think we should change
. Millions of fans identify with the Washington Redskins without any intended animosity towards the people who are allegedly offended. Furthermore, empirical evidence to date suggests that the people who should be offended actually are not
. Reader(s) are encouraged to prove me wrong with at least one study showing that even a large minority of Native Americans take offense to the name of the Washington Redskins. Were I presented with that evidence, I might very well change my opinion on the matter.