May 22 2012

Try this one the Atlanta Braves or KC Chiefs

Published by at 12:01 pm under Oregon,Rainey

rainey
Barrett Rainey
Second Thoughts

From time to time, seems to me the “correctness police” take things a step too far. A State of Oregon busybody group is the latest “correctness” over-reacher.” Specifically our Board of Education which has decided that – henceforth- our public schools may no longer have mascots, nicknames or logos that are Native American in nature.

The official “thinking” behind banishing all things Indian connected to Oregon schools is that somehow they’re “racist,” “shameful,” “dehumanizing.” Apparently some in the American Indian community feel that way. Equally apparent, some don’t. Also apparent, some don’t give a damn.

I’ve never attended an Oregon school with an athletic team or image that contributed to this official human “shame.” We were the Bend High Lava Bears and, frankly, we didn’t much care if a few bears in Central Oregon or elsewhere were bent out of shape about it. The notoriously bad play of our football team in my senior year would have created enough shame even if we were St. Catherine’s of the Cascades. Bummer.

But here in the “burg-in-the-woods” where I now live, the local high school must surrender to this “correctness” which means removal of all things Indian from buildings, uniforms, letterheads, football end zones, basketball courts and cheerleader outfits. All must be done because the Board of Education “correctness police” are watching. And if all “dehumanizing” accouterments aren’t gone in 60 months, state funding will be withheld!

Imagine, for a moment, your state legislature took a dislike to the name of your town for some “correctness” reason, and told your city council to rename your village posthaste or there would be no more state dollars come 2017. “BLACKMAIL,” the cry would go up. “FISCAL BLACKMAIL!” Schools, however, are expected to roll over and get their collective tummies scratched.

What makes it even more ridiculous is this. In the community of Oakridge, school athletic teams are called “Warriors.” And they’ll continue to be called “Warriors” because the “correctness police” have drawn a fine hypocritical line between that label and any other thing “Indian.”

Suppose you lived in the little Oregon town of Marcola where teens attend Mohawk High School? All of the identity there is “Mohawk!” What are you supposed to do?

Social “critics” abound in all societies. That’s what they do. Sometimes they even have something valid to offer. But there’s the occasional rant that goes too far. In my mind, this is one of them.

As a nation, we’re supposed to be a “melting pot.” Indian, Chinese, Polish, Jew, Mexican, Jew, Indian. Keeping the values of one’s ethnicity while sharing that value with others was a founding principle. Honor the heritage but become American. Be proud of your ancestry while becoming something more by sharing in the new identity.

Instead, we act like victims of ethnic division (read “correctness police”) and followers of those who would keep us apart. We’re a nation heralding our differences rather than honoring our oneness. Our unique sameness. While there can be abuses of someone’s heritage, 11 guys in football uniforms don’t seem to me to add up to that.

I’m a native westerner. With a good number of Indian relationships. I’ve been blessed by getting to know their uniqueness and have opportunities to share their pride. I even quote some of their history from time to time because – in many ways – their history is my history, too.

I know of no school – no athletic team – no community – which identifies with American Indian history that does so in a demeaning way. While I’m sure there are some Indian Americans who may feel so, none of my Native American acquaintance do. To have a governmental body like the State of Oregon Board of Education levy this type of societal censorship – backing it with a blackmail threat – is demeaning in itself.

Our little burg has many Indian residents. Lots of local folk are employed in various Indian businesses. One of our major employers is the confederation of tribes in their many businesses. Their culture is celebrated many times during the year in these parts. Huckleberrying. Fishing. Pow-wows. Hunting. We even gamble in their casino which is all decked out in an Indian theme. Where WERE the “correctness police?”
Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find anyone who believes our little high school with it’s “Indian” athletic teams is a source of societal complaint to a lot of people hereabouts. Indian or not.

What IS a source of complaining is a State Board of Education – listening to a minority of voices which seem to be outside the mainstream of community majority – acting as the “correctness police” and using an economic hammer to enforce a solution looking for a problem.

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