I saw these guys on last night’s broadcast. Hat tip to Ted Berg of USA Today for getting the screen cap:
We wouldn’t accept it if these guys showed up at a party in blackface. We wouldn’t cite “tradition” or “enthusiasm” and act as if it wasn’t racist for them to do so. If they wore blackface at a ballpark I am pretty confident that security would have them removed, for their safety among other reasons.
But to pull Indian redface in Cleveland? Hey, no worries. Go Tribe. Quit your complaining, Calcaterra. Indeed, I’m assuming that for even mentioning this I will be accused of being an overly-sensitive P.C. liberal who doesn’t understand that no one finds this offensive and, hey, my Native American father-in-law has no problem with it. If they decided not to go the ad hominem route they’d probably offer something like, “hey, he’s on the caps. So obviously it’s about team spirit, not racism. It’s just a cartoon character, so it’s not offensive.”
But of course it is offensive. And disgraceful. And as long as the Cleveland Indians continue to use Chief Wahoo as their mascot and primary logo, idiots like these three will believe that it is socially acceptable to do with Indians that which we would never tolerate if it was done with other races. They will be given the official cover to make specious arguments excusing their racist acts.
And of course, when you actually make yourself up like this the argument so many make — that it’s just a cartoon not meant to be a real person — is severely undermined. Here is that ugly cartoon caricature transformed into a human caricature. It’s no different — and in many ways worse — than these guys dressing up like one of the Indians from “F-Troop,” walking down the street and speaking in bad western movie Indian dialect.
I used to speculate that, based on what I saw as a decrease in the Indians’ use of Wahoo on alternate caps and at their spring training facility, that the team was gradually phasing Chief Wahoo out. I was contacted by the Indians last spring, however, and told that “there are absolutely no plans to phase out Chief Wahoo.” I would like to think that the fact that the team’s use of Wahoo is construed by some as license to engage in racist crap like this would make them reconsider that position. But I’m not holding my breath.