Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This logo thing is just getting tiring 

Using a publication that was created by the anti-Semitism settlement of three years ago, the administration has decided to continue its war on the University of North Dakota logo. It includes a peroration by our President Roy Saigo, who has made the logo his cause celebre, and devotes 10 of its twelve pages to the issue. The slogan of the publication is "Encouraging new ways to think how we view each other." I see only claims of victimization, and that ain't new.

Is it any coincidence that this comes after the student newspaper, which had already voted to not use the UND athletic name in its stories, received continuous heat for a picture of a hockey game between the two schools in which a UND player jersey was visible? The Chronicle finds itself having to defend an action shot of a sporting event.

This publication has produced some of the best collegiate photography in the state of Minnesota. It is also our policy to print the best available photographs our talented staff submits. The editorial board decided to continue this tradition of excellent visual arts and will not discard a photograph of the UND logo if it is the best graphic we have available.

...Newspapers are valuable to society because they objectively report the facts, and this staff is not in the habit of placing disclaimers on facts. The fact is the University of North Dakota's athletic team name is Fighting Sioux. The fact is they have a logo with a drawing of a Native American. Until those facts change, we reserve the right to print the news without a sugar coating.

Two points: First, it strikes me as quaint that the newspaper still sees its function as "obhectively reporting the facts, and this staff is not in the habit of placing disclaimers on facts." As "Mayor of the MOB" Doug Williams links today, the teaching of journalism and the work of reporters differs greatly. The newspaper seems to have eschewed the "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted" mindset of modern journalism. Photoshopping out the UND logo in the campus newspaper also blurs the distinction between reality and the cosmic world we wish we had. Bully for them for not seeing comforting the afflicted as part of their job.

So why does the campus and its leadership continue to think they should? Part of it ties, in my view, to Shelby Steele's excellent diagnosis of Hillary Clinton's MLK day speech to a largely black audience.
When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary's remark as follows: "I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes--the wretched of the earth, a slave people--who will surely know all about plantations." Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us--as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming.

Think the analogy inapt, when you hear this in our campus diversity publication from the head of the American Indian Center?

Along with other societal abuses and stereotypes, Indian mascots and logos separate, marginalize, confuse, intimidate and harm American Indian children, thereby creating a barrier to learning and making the school an inhospitable place. Schools must be places where children and students are allowed equal opportunity to participate in learning. The use of Indian logo caricatures denies full and welcome participation to American Indian children, while at the same time, teaching all school children to tolerate discrimination against Indian people, their heritage and their cultures.

All this from a picture on a hockey sweater? That's some sweater. Or this, from a Native American student,

When asked to write about my opinions of the mascots, logos and stereotypes presented at a collegiate level, I was very excited. I began preparing by sitting on my floor in my office, engulfed with hundreds of articles and files that I have collected regarding this issue. I started highlighting everything I wanted to represent. I was ready to command an audience and I was ready to show the world the ill effects mascots and logos had on Native Americans and our society. I came to the conclusion, as wonderful as this presentation could have been, to write not from an academic perspective, but from the my perspective as a Native American woman, a college student who is offended, hurt and humiliated by the misuse of Native American mascots and logos.

In other words, at an academic institution, where preparing an academic argument, she chose to become a symbol, to be used by the institution as a means of assuaging its own perceived guilt. Does the institution see Native Americans as injured people too unable to lift themselves up beyond the ill-informed use of one its symbols for an athletic team?

It would seem to me you'd be tired of this by now. It would seem to me that some of our campus leaders run articles and glossy magazines to harvest cheap support from groups that they view as victims, and that their support is only desirable as long as they are victims. They do not attack Native American mascots to give Native Americans power, but to give it to themselves.

UPDATE (6/12/06): Thanks for Hugh Hewitt readers stopping by. Please see this updated post.