Much ado about Wahoo a big boo-hoo
So now that we’ve all had a little time to digest the Tribe’s decision (due to major pressure from Major League Baseball) to “transition” Chief Wahoo (“transition” sounds much more palatable than “dump”), how do you feel about saying adios to the Chief?
I have to admit to being a little saddened, but probably not for the reasons you might think. I’m both saddened and puzzled by the Indians' decision, though not surprised. It’s just another notch in the belt for (misapplied, in my opinion) political correctness, right? Isn’t it the same “Happy Holidays” mentality that’s become the new (unrealistic) standard in our society as we move forward with the “everybody wins, nobody loses – ever” approach?
See, here’s the thing with me: I grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, so Chief Wahoo has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and that’s approaching six decades or so now). Never – not once in my life – did I ever think of Chief Wahoo as anything more than a symbol of our baseball team, which was named, coincidentally, the Cleveland Indians. The Chief was woven into our lives as much as he was woven into the players’ uniforms.
The rationale behind the assertion that the Chief is – oops, was – somehow a racist depiction truly escapes me. Many point to the smile of the Chief as somehow racist. Now, let’s hold on a microsecond here. Everyone is aware that Chief Wahoo is a cartoon caricature, right? And as anyone who has ever seen a caricature (check out the political cartoonists if you need help) also understands that a caricature contains exaggerations. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a caricature, would it? And besides, who wants some serious dude as the poster boy for their sports team? Not me. So we had a happy Indian (remember, the team name was “Indians”) (who was a caricature, remember) and consequently had a big smile. Racism? I don’t think so.
While we’re on the subject, I’d like to find out from Native Americans exactly how this “victory” has improved (or is anticipated to improve) their lives down the road. Take your time answering that; I think you’ll need it. If it is thought that the elimination of Chief Wahoo will in some way elevate the stature of the Native American, I’m afraid you’re kidding yourselves. The racists (and to be sure, they are out there) won’t be swayed by something like changing a team caricature.
I don’t remember the first year the “Ban the Chief” Opening Day protests started at the old stadium, but I was as confused at the choice of venue for the protest. The protests always lasted one game – the Indians’ home opener – and then promptly disappeared for the remainder of the year. I understand the crowds were bigger and that the most media attention was focused on the opener, but if the social injustice was that severe, I always wondered why the protest was simply an annual tradition. Wrong is wrong 81 games a year, right?
Chief Wahoo: I will miss you dearly, my old friend. Thanks for the fond memories.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!