The Cleveland Indians will yield to political correctness and ditch the team’s 70 year-old logo, Chief Wahoo. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred pressured Indians chair Paul Dolan into making the change, which had been demanded by Native American activists for decades. A version of the red-skinned, hook-nosed caricature of a Native American first appeared on the Indians’ uniforms in 1948, when the team won its first American League pennant after many frustrating years. The logo caught on in part because the team’s fans had good associations with the image—the cognitive dissonance scale strikes again!—and then grinning indian became part of team tradition.The various groups that bullied other teams to change or eliminate names or logos with any hint of ethnicity on spurious grounds made banning Wahoo a priority, along with the Atlanta Braves “tomahawk chop” and especially the Washington Redskins nickname.
Apparently Manfred used the 2019 MLB All-Star Game as leverage, telling the club that either Chief Wahoo goes or the All-Star Game would end up somewhere else.
I have no affection for the logo, which is grotesque and anachronistic, but as with the Redskins, the protests were part of a power play by the Left and not the result of genuine, widespread offense affecting Native Americans. Nobody was made into a racist or caused to hate Native Americans because of Chief Wahoo, and sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon. There was no racist intent: people do not associate names and images that represent what they hate with teams they love. (The cognitive dissonance scale again. Is there anything it can’t explain?) As with the Redskins name, I feel as if the Cleveland Indians logo needed to stay as a matter of principle. Again, the attack on team names and symbols is about power, and bending others to their will. Polls and surveys showed that most Native Americans didn’t care. But this is just another brick in the wall, and the censors of art, history, tradition, thought and language will never stop.
If the Indians officials and fans think this will end with Chief Wahoo, they haven’t been paying attention. Now the political correctness mob will move on to its next prey—the team’s name, as well as the Braves, the Redskins, and the “the chop,” in baseball, the Warriors in the NBA, the Chiefs in the NFL, and the NHL Blackhawks. Then, who knows? Apache helicopters? It doesn’t matter. What matters is the power to control the culture.
Over at NBC’s baseball blog, Craig Calcaterra, a full-fledged social justice warrior who is increasingly unable to keep politics out of his baseball commentary (Craig was pining for baseball players to start protesting during the National Anthem) authored an incoherent article complaining that baseball killed Chief Wahoo for financial rather than “moral” reasons. There is no moral reason to remove a cartoon that didn’t hurt anyone, and that served to express any racist animus. There’s no financial reason either. This is just another example of a principle becoming too time- consuming and burdensome to defend against ideological fanatics with a long-term agenda.
After the team names and logos, I assume that the same activists will go after Apu, Dr. Hibbard, and all the other ethnic spoofs on “The Simpsons,” “The Family Guy” and even old Warner Brothers cartoons. Any films with unsympathetic portrayals of Native Americans will be declared unwatchable, as will any TV episodes or Westerns in which the Native Americans were portrayed by people like Elizabeth Warren. The ironic result of all of this winning by the hypersensitive Left is that the cultural footprint of the people who once dominated North America will shrink to the vanishing point.