Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sweet Alfred E. Neuman On A Hat!

You've got to hand it to the Cleveland Indians. They've done real well. They were so good they might even have done as well if they'd been called the Cleveland Bowling Pins. It's hard to say, because they're still the Indians. They've still got the dopey Little Injun Boy on their hats and everything. He looks like Little Chief Pee-Pee Pants. He's adorable.

There's talk of replacing the name and mascot, but it's meeting the usual resistance. I saw a thread about it on Facebook and, predictably, someone was cheesed off. "Are you saying calling my team the Indians makes me a racist?" Well, no, not that per se. Other stuff maybe. Maybe you just can't fathom that such a mascot might be seen as insulting, since you don't mean anything by it. Maybe you lack imagination. Someone's messing with your tradition? Okay. Hang onto that aggrieved feeling, because we'll get back to that in a minute.

Let's try a little experiment. Supposed the contending team in this year's World Series is the Mighty Whities. There's a fellow flexing on the cap; he looks like Mr. Clean. How does that make you feel? I see. Yeah, bad example. Mighty Whities is kind of redundant. You're not offended. Dude looks strong. Mighty Whities rule.

Which is kind of why they're hard to mock effectively.

Let's try again. Y'all lost the war. New Mexico is the most powerful nation in the world, and most of you English-speaking white people are clustered in little shabby settlements. Strip malls. Trailer parks. You're doing okay outside of tornado season, and as long as the Waffle House stays open, nobody much complains. Then the World Series rolls around and there they are again: the Pasty-Faces won the pennant. It rankles, because you know you've gotten the short end of the stick in general, and the New Mexicans think you're kind of dirty and you kind of are, what with the meth problem and the fracking spoiling your water, but you still  have a proud European heritage and a right to dignity. Remember that bristly aggrieved feeling when you thought someone was calling you a racist, thinking you're something you're not? It feels like that. You and your people have been a national joke for 160 years. It's like a splinter in your heart every time the Pasty-Faces come up to bat wearing those stupid caps with Alfred E. Neuman on the front. You're being made fun of. You're inconsequential.

So is this another one of those cases of political correctness? We all know that person who is offended by everything. You learn to tread lightly around her, even though you think she's too sensitive and she really needs to get over a lot of that shit--and you're probably right. It's when a whole lot of people have the same complaint that it might be worth considering they have a different but valid perspective. And that their grievance might have more weight than your tradition.

Sure it's a tradition--it's a relic from the days when white men never had call to doubt their dominance over everyone else, including women. The name and mascot are fossil ridicule, embedded in a now-crumbling substrate. But you know? It's not that big a deal, a tradition that's lasted only your whole life, and part of your father's life. That's not that long. You can do better. You'll get over it.

Go Bowling Pins!

24 comments:

  1. What me worry?
    I read Mad.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    ReplyDelete
  2. Murr, you did it again. Put into words so beautifully what I fret about but can't articulate like you can. Thanks for all the talking points you give me. You are simply the best!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I think so much of what's going wrong has to do with people's inability or reluctance to put themselves in someone else's shoes. It's not that hard. Seems like an almost willful refusal.

      Delete
    2. Yes: what she said, about what you said. And what you said about what she said! I find myself wishing that the phrase "politically correct" had never been coined; most times I hear it these days, it's said disdainfully - and comes accompanied by that willful refusal. Similar to the vibe one gets, mentioning second-hand smoke to a "dedicated" smoker.

      Delete
    3. I used to use it way back in the Seventies (I thought I made it up) and I was referring to a few views I held that were not popular among my tribe at the time. For instance, I hated all the language changes ("chairperson"). I'm kind of a traditionalist about language, although I've eased up.

      Delete
  3. Right on, Murr. Ya hit that one out of the park! (Yes, I know that was obvious - and a groaner to boot - but dang it, I had to do it before someone else did :))

    If only some people had more imagination. They might even conjure up some empathy on their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for getting that one out of the way.

      Delete
  4. Traditions and religion should follow the same rule; Do to oyhers what you would have them do to you. but many people don't have empathy. Hopefully you are helping increase it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Golden Rule is the command to empathize.

      Delete
  5. Yes. Even our politicians aren't politcally correct. Nor yours. It is a fairly silly term. Empathy rules. Or should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Politics is not a dirty word in my lexicon. Maybe dirty politics is. You know, voter suppression, dissemination of lies, that sort of thing.

      Delete
  6. I agree--empathy should DEFINITELY rule!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a little Jesus-y, but I'm cool with that.

      Delete
  7. It seems like it should all be so simple to feel something that someone else might feel. WTF is the matter with people?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It has something to do with having to challenge one's own self, and the fear that one will somehow lose something by admitting other people into one's heart. Or something like that.

      Delete
  8. I wonder why it's called "world" series when it's only played in one country, by citizens of that country? Perhaps someone will sit me down and explain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canada gets to play too. Admittedly they didn't used to and they still called it the World Series, and that's because it's one of the most important things in the World. Also, peanuts.

      Delete
    2. When I lived in southern Georgia a couple years ago I was appalled that the local high school team was the Indians and there were signs around town saying "Scalp 'em." The fans even did a tomahawk chop during the game. And Cherokees had tribal land in the area! An interesting sidenote: Native Americans traditionally had a strong warrior culture and have volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in high numbers, even in WWI before they were even granted citizenship. A Lakota chief helped dedicate the Army's Lakota helicopter. I know it's a sad thing that the dominant culture tries to wipe out the indigenous peoples and then names sports teams, weapons, and suburban streets after them. You're correct when you say it's what THEY feel about it that matters, not those who have misappropriated their culture or names. If they're fine with it that's one thing. But they have the right to call it racism or disrespect if that's what they feel.

      Delete
    3. I think I heard once that nobody else gets to own what you feel. You own that territory. Nobody gets to say otherwise.

      Delete