Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Mascot Issue Will Not Go Away, and Neither Will Indian People

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Mascot Issue Will Not Go Away, and Neither Will Indian People

Article excerpt

The issue of Indians as mascots is not about to go away.

The courage and sensitivity of William Hilliard, editor of The Oregonian, not to use names with racial overtones has taken the world of journalism by surprise.

For those of you who do not know it, Bill Hilliard is black. He asked himself one simple question: If the name "Redskin" were changed to "Blackskin" and the fans in the stands painted their faces black and donned Afro wigs believing they were "honoring" blacks, would he be offended?

Of course, the answer was "You're damned right I would be offended."

Bill decided to do something about it. He changed his editorial policy about using names for sports teams that could be construed as racist. He has received a lot of journalistic flack from white editors and publishers accusing him of attempting to be "politically correct," whatever in the heck that means.

Having never been in our shoes, these sanctimonious protectors of freedom of the press have made such statements as Mike Jacobs of the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald: "It seems to me that if there are those who find the names offensive, they ought to go to the proper people and make a case."

Is Mr. Jacobs saying that the press is not the proper place to go when seeking an end to racist attitudes? Does Mr. Jacobs not understand that Indian people are human beings and not mascots for the fun and enjoyment of sports fanatics?

When was the last time you picked up a paper and saw the words "kike," "nigger," "Jap," "chink," "wop," or any other racist name used to describe an ethnic minority, whether for a news story or a sports story? How come newspapers do not use these de-meaning names any longer? Have they, without knowing it, been trying to be politically correct all of these years?

Or is it because they found these names to be demeaning, insulting, and racist? Then why is it so difficult for these self-righteous editors to make the same application to names demeaning the First Americans? For the life of me, I just cannot understand why they don't get it. They just do not get it.

If I read one more article by a white, middle-class male wondering if they should change the name of the Green Bay Packers because it might offend meat plant workers, or Pittsburgh Steelers because it might offend steel workers, or Dallas Cowboys because it might offend cowboys, I think I will be physically ill. …

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