I'll try to keep this quick, as it is a topic that has been beaten worse than a pinata in Mexico City on Cinco de Mayo. However, when a journalist throws something out into the world for mass consumption, they need to get the facts straight, and they need to be held accountable.
Last night, Damien Cox of the Toronto Star put out an article stating that the Blackhawks logo is offensive and should go the way of the Fighting Sioux and others in the NCAA. For the entire article, go here.
As Justin Bourne would say, more after the little star dividing line.
First things first. To Mr. Cox, please get your facts straight. You state this in your article:
Closer to home for the hockey folks, the issue produced a polarizing debate at the University of North Dakota over the use of "Fighting Sioux" that finally reached a conclusion last month when the state’s Supreme Court ordered the school to dump the nickname after years of squabbling.
The North Dakota State Supreme Court did no such thing. According to Chuck Haga of the Grand Forks Herald, a source a bit more familiar with the events unfolding in Grand Forks, the action was taken by the State Board of Higher Education, not the Supreme Court. From that article:
The hard-fought, four-year legal battle aroused great passions on both sides, and it was complicated by divisions within the tribes — divisions which logo opponents cited as evidence of the nickname’s negative impact on tribal life and, especially, Indian students at UND.
The wrangling came to a head in recent months as some logo supporters at Spirit Lake sought an injunction against the board dropping the nickname until arrangements could be made for a referendum or tribal council vote at Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
A district court judge ruled against the logo supporters and threw out the injunction, and the state Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s action Thursday morning — issuing its opinion about the time the State Board assembled in Mayville for its monthly meeting.
The state Supreme Court simply ruled that the Board of Higher Education did not need to wait for the Standing Rock Sioux to hold their vote before they could eliminate the logo. They did not order the school, nor the Board to remove the logo.
This is of minor importance to the article, but it shows that Mr. Cox did not fact check his story very thoroughly, something the readers of Hockey Wilderness know I do not deal well with.
The best line in the whole piece may be this:
It’s as if nobody notices, or wants to. The same folks who never would have one of those disgraceful black jockey statues on their lawn will proudly wear a cartoon aboriginal face on their chests.
Because it's the same thing, right?
Mr. Cox goes on to write:
Clearly, no right-thinking person would name a team after an aboriginal figure these days any more than they would use Muslims or Africans or Chinese or any ethnic group to depict a specific sporting notion.
Agreed, they likely wouldn't. While we are on the topic, where is your rage against such logos as these:
Because we all know the stereotypes of the Irish being people who wear green, look like leprechauns, and love to fight at the drop of a hat.
Or this logo:
Saving the obvious jokes about the evil empire, the term "Yankees" was, and is, a derogatory term used by the South to refer to anyone from the North.
One for the Hometown crowd:
Because all Norse travelers and those of Scandinavian decent love to be stereotyped by the warrior class of their past. Historians have shown that Vikings didn't even wear horns on their helmets... thus an incorrect stereotype of the people.
So, I ask again, Mr. Cox. Where is your outrage over these logos? Or is it only, as you call them, aboriginal nicknames that are insulting?
Hockey fans, of course, being overwhelmingly male and white, hate these kinds of discussions. Political correctness, they howl, just like the debate over putting women in the Hall of Fame.
In other words, stereotyping is wrong, but using it to describe the fan base of hockey is perfectly fine. I am indeed a white male. I do not mind the discussion at all. Just so long as we all are clear on the facts of the debate, and that we all agree that you cannot separate the rage over "aboriginal" nicknames from those I pointed out above.
Finally, Mr. Cox closes with this:
Maybe the best result would be for the Hawks to win their first championship in 49 years, celebrate and then announce that while they’ll keep the name, they’ll change the logo.
Indeed. The logo is offensive, but not the nickname. That makes perfect sense.