Behold the Conservative Anti-Anti-Chief-Wahoo Argument

I’m endlessly amazed at the stuff conservatives decide to kvetch about. Today at National Review, Philip DeVoe is unhappy that the Cleveland Indians have decided to get rid of their mascot, Chief Wahoo. Just to remind you, this is Chief Wahoo:

The chief has been slowly disappearing for years, and Cleveland finally decided this year to remove the logo entirely from on-field play. You can still buy Chief Wahoo souvenirs, but that’s it. So what is DeVoe’s issue?

While several activist groups have celebrated the move as long overdue, as the mascot has been accused of being offensive to Native Americans, it’s unclear why the ball club made the decision.

….First, was there any real pressure to change the logo? The modern fight to purge professional sports teams of Native American mascots was seemingly abandoned in 2016 when the Washington Post found that nine of ten Native Americans polled took no offense at the Washington Redskins’ logo or team name….Second, the mascot didn’t come from a place of racism originally, and modern Indians fans don’t wear it out of spite or to perpetuate stereotypes. Indians pitcher Allie Reynolds, himself a Native American, was the inspiration for the name, as “Chief Wahoo” was a sobriquet for Reynolds. Plus, the original image was intended to be jovial, whereas the oft-cited problem with Native American mascots is that they perpetuate a stereotype of savagery.

All in all, it looks like an unnecessary and misguided attempt at heading off a controversy.

Let’s spell this out. DeVoe’s argument, I guess, is that not every Native American objects to the Chief Wahoo logo. It’s not the subject of any special feeding frenzy right now. Nobody thought of it as racist back in 1946.¹ And it’s not like Wahoo is scalping a white man or anything. So why think ahead and get rid of him now?

This is almost a parody of the anti-anti-racist position. Conservatives practically never complain about actual racism, but even the tiniest movement to oppose racism manages to get their hackles up. Getting rid of the chief is just about the tiniest movement you can imagine, but even so it prompts a conservative complaint. And then they wonder why minorities keep on voting against Republicans. It’s a mystery, isn’t it?

¹A notably enlightened era, apparently.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate