Chief Wahoo and Us

Over at my baseball-side project, The Slurve, I argue with Indian’s blogger Stephanie Liscio that Chief Wahoo should stay.

Anyway, consider the Fighting Irish logo of Notre Dame. Here we have a man dressed as a leprechaun, posed in the absurd fighting stance Conan O’Brien assumes when playfully immitating early 20th century boxers. The Fighting Irishman is as ghostly white, as Chief Wahoo is red. And we should remember that the Irish were once considered a race unto themselves, one uniquely prone to drunken brawling and subject to discrimination in America. But no one thinks that the Fighting Irish logo “is a racist caricature, something akin to Little Black Sambo.” If you believe that, I can convince you that that Syracuse’s Orange Squish ball, Otto, is belittling depiction of Scottish Protestants.

I also argue that these anti-caricature campaigns have the perverse effect of making sports more white. We can depict whites as noble fighters like the Trojans, as irrational Fighters like the Vikings or Fighting Irish, but we can’t depict Native Americans or Blacks at all. This is actually a shame. Racist caricatures are of course bad, but caricature itself isn’t.

Comments are closed.