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Checking in with the “Keep Chief Wahoo” crowd

Checking in with the “Keep Chief Wahoo” crowd

Editor’s Note: This is another installment of our intermittent collaboration with Cleveland Frowns, published by Peter Pattakos. This piece was originally published March 3, 2014.

By Peter Pattakos

Since the news broke in early January that Chief Wahoo would be demoted from its position as the Cleveland Indians’ “primary logo” in Major League Baseball’s branding style-book, a couple of pro-Wahoo Facebook groups have picked up steam, with the “Keep Chief Wahoo” and “Protect Chief Wahoo” pages having added a combined 3,200+ members mostly over the last two months.

1915 Plain Dealer cartoon.

1915 Plain Dealer cartoon.

And in related news, everybody please welcome the Plain Dealer to 1964, as the newspaper finally decided to proclaim last week that Wahoo “represents a racially insensitive stereotype of Native Americans.” In expressing its opinion that it’s time for the Indians organization to “make a clean break” with the logo, the PD’s editorial board explained that “[f]or many, getting rid of Wahoo means giving into excessive political correctness,” and that was “why this editorial board has hesitated in the past to take a position.”

So as much as you might not have been wondering very much about what’s at the bottom of a person’s decision to prioritize his attachment to a baseball team’s logo over the right of a race of people to not have a dehumanizing caricature of itself made into a baseball team’s logo, it’s worth noting that Cleveland’s only daily newspaper was worried enough about offending this crowd. And, more to the point, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team still is.

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Of course, there’s no telling what kind of damage might have been done had the PD risked offending the sensibilities of these people by having spoken out against Wahoo twenty, ten, five, four, or even three, two or one years ago. Thankfully for the “Keep Wahoo” crowd, the newspaper still thinks that the “Indians” name is okay, and there are still some local media members standing bravely in favor of the white man’s divine right to make baseball logos out of caricatures of genocide victims, including Greg Brinda of ESPN Cleveland 850 WKNR, Glenn Moore of Cleveland.com/Northeast Ohio Media Group, Mark Schwab of CBS 19 Action News and 92.3 WFAN, as well as Mike “Chico” BormannJ.G. Spooner, and of course, Kiley and Booms, also of 92.3 WFAN.

Two months ago the Indians announced that there would be no change at all to the organization’s “approach” to the logo, which appeared on its uniforms in 161 of 162 games last season. It’s been forty-nine years and counting since a Cleveland team has won a damn thing.

Peter Pattakos is a Cleveland attorney and publisher of the website clevelandfrowns.com.

9 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    March 05, 2014

    The subject of ND’s Fighting Irish came up this morning on Kiley and Booms. They said no one is of offended by the Fighting Irish mascot therefore it is the same as Chief Wahoo. Well, I am offended by the ND mascot and have always been, but not in the picket in South Bend sense. In the early 1900s, the Irish were portrayed in cartoons in all the big newspapers as little bearded monkeys in bowler hats that were drunk and conniving little bastards. That morphed into these little leprechauns that would drink and steal your gold and put a spell on you. I have to look at that shit every year at this time. And ND uses this as their mascot. I don’t really give a shit too much, but I have never understood why ND has trotted this cartoon stereotype crap out for something as insignificant as football. Oh sorry, I forgot, all sports is highly significant.

    Reply

  2. Avatar
    March 05, 2014

    Why is it that its always the hypersensitive white thats offended? Go to Mt Pleasant Michigan. Home of the Chippewa Tribe. GO to the Reservation High School. Go visit the School’s baseball diamond. WHat’s there? A sign that says, HOME OF THE TRIBE with Chief Wahoo. (Its been a few years, don’t really know if its still there). Gallup did a survey a couple of years ago. Asking Native Americans if Chief Wahoo and others like them offended them. The majority said they were proud.

    Reply

    • Avatar
      March 05, 2014

      I’ve done some googling to find this Gallup poll you refer to, Todd–I can’t find anything. Or any other similar poll apart from a Plain Dealer voluntary “what do you think? reader survey.

      Can you provide a link to a poll in which Native Americans said they were proud of Chief Wahoo?

      Reply

      • Avatar
        March 06, 2014

        Sports illustrated wrote about it. Check there

        Reply

  3. Avatar
    March 15, 2014

    Who cares about the logo? How about fielding a team that has a shot at the World Series??

    Reply

  4. Avatar
    April 09, 2014

    Despite my glib response last month, here is a link to the SI article and the poll.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1025046/1/index.htm

    83% of Native Americans don’t think the names should be dropped??? Thats a pretty significant figure. If I were a member of a minority, I would be pretty offended by a non-member telling me I should feel opposite of what I do because that person (or group; i.e. liberal white elitest guy) knows better than me whats right.

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