Whiny Liberals – 1, UND – 0
Word has come out last night and today that the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education has voted unanimously to set an October 1st deadline to suspend the use of the Fighting Sioux nickname at the University of North Dakota. Though this move merely sets the deadline, UND President Robert Kelley feels that this is effectively the death-knell for the long used Fighting Sioux moniker.
As you may have guessed from the headline, I am very against this move. This fight has raged back and forth since I came to North Dakota (and for years beforehand), and I have ample opportunity to listen to both sides of the argument. The anti-nickname side basically contends that the nickname and logo creates a campus environment that is “hostile and abusive” to Native American students. The pro-nickname side points to the plethora of programs and services UND offers Native American students.
I personally fail to see how a name and logo can actually create a hostile environment. Racism has existed before this controversy and it will exist after this controversy because its almost impossible to change the opinions of some small minded people. Changing the logo and nickname will not help this matter one bit. The University of North Dakota has gone above and beyond to create opportunities for Native American students on campus. They had a Native American artist design the logo and a bronze statue of Sitting Bull graces the Ralph Engelstad Arena’s promendade. The Sioux Nation is paid homage during every UND home game in what I would consider to be a very respectful manner. The logo is certainly a better likeness of a Native American than is Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians logo. So again, would someone tell me why this logo is hostile and abusive?
Instead of focusing on actual problems associated with racism and/or the plight of the local Native Americans (poverty on the reservations, for example) these do-gooders have focused on a feel good platitude that really solves nothing. Warped from taking too many college level sociology courses from burned out hippies, the politically correct crowd has made an empty gesture to assuage their liberal guilt and the university community is now worse off because of it.
I could perhaps reluctantly get behind a movement that would see all potentially offensive names removed, but that is not the case here. Other schools and teams across the country continue to survive and thrive despite nicknames and logos related to Native Americans, yet UND continues to be singled out for punishment. What makes the Fighting Irish so different from the Fighting Sioux? The Notre Dame logo and nickname conjures up a somewhat offensive caricature of Irish people as a drunken, brawling lot. Yet they are free to play under the name and logo, heck, they can even host the President of the United States as their commencement speaker. To me, this double standard is just another strike against the anti-nickname forces.
While this is only tangentially related to hockey, it should be noted that wherever the UND (insert politically correct name here) play next year, people will be reminded that an excellent opportunity for a discussion of and action on the important issues of racism and poverty was neglected for pure politically correct pap and feel good sloganeering. When the PC thought police come for you and your team’s nickname, remember the lessons learned here.
I would like to invite both sides of the argument to discuss the issue in the comments (rationally, please).