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.

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed 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