The Sob-Sisterhood of the Wet Panties
© 2007 Ross Williams
Chalk up another win for the faux-enlightened.
In the continuing quest to promote style over substance, those opposed to the use of a human-image icon for a college sports program have won. They’ve hectored and badgered and wept and wailed and nagged and thrown themselves to the ground kicking and foaming at the mouth for long enough that the dictators of collegiate sports have put their foot down. Splash! into a puddle of self-righteous wee-wee.
The college at the center of this tempest in a pisspot is – drumroll, please – the University of Illinois, recently of Danish Dozen fame. You remember that one, doncha? Twelve Danish editorial cartoons depicting muslims as maybe being perhaps somewhat violent were printed in Europe, to which muslims in the one-third of the world they dominate responded by rioting, murdering and arsoning, and it’s rude for anyone in the United States to further insult muslims by reprinting them. So when the student editor of the U of I’s student newspaper, The Daily Illini, reprinted them as a Freedom of the Press conversation-starter, the perennially soft-skulled dinks who tend to congregate in the vicinity of college campuses collapsed into a ready pile of wet tissues – and the student editor, Acton Gorton, was relieved of his duties.
Much the same set of soft-skulled dinks have been driving this issue as well for the past generation. …if not identical in name, then very similar in nature. The problem – to the degree that “problem” can be miniaturized in order to represent the issue – is that the U of I has an American Indian mascot for its sports teams. Chief Illiniwek. He is supposed to represent the state of Illinois which was historically the homeland of the Illini Confederacy, and after whom the state of Illinois was named.
The Illini Confederacy, a dozen or so large and small tribes, spoke one of the many Algonquin dialects native to the eastern and northern third of the North American continent, similar to the Miami tribe[s] of Ohio, and were probably descended from the Mississippian mound builders of the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys.
From most accounts, the Illini were pretentious and warlike, and not very good at either. “Illinois” means, in Algonquin, “superior men”, though there’s no evidence they were. Cosmic coincidence being what it is, they were first encountered by the French who are also pretentious and warlike and not very good at either. The Illini had been having long-running wars, and losing them, with the Iroquois, Sioux, Fox, Kickapoo, Huron, et cetera, and by the time the French arrived in the mid-18th century, the “superior men” of the Illini Confederacy were so beset by their native neighbors that they latched onto the pale strangers with flintlocks and bibles as their savior.
Since like attracts like and the French weren’t any better at fighting wars with their cultural equals than the Illini were, the Frogs lost a series of wars against the British, and the Illini were essentially up a creek without a paddle. The French – suggesting behavioral design, perhaps – similarly considered themselves “superior men”, though no evidence has ever been found to corroborate their belief, either.
By the time of the American Revolution, the Illini were pushed into Osage territory and more wars with their native neighbors, inevitably losing them; and by the time of the American Civil War, the remnants of the Illini tribes joined the Peoria tribe – the largest in the Illini Confederacy [or the largest remaining, at any rate] – moved to Oklahoma, and retired from the Indian business. There were around 200 left at that point.
You can think what you like of the wisdom of adopting an iconic mascot from this group of able natives, but in 1926 the University of Illinois did exactly that. The University of Illinois, named after a warlike affiliation of local tribes but which should have been pacifist, played a football game against the University of Pennsylvania, named after an English settler seeking religious freedom for his heretical [read: pacifist] Quaker sect – which arguably ought to have been more warlike. Both schools came up with an icon relevant to their origin, met at midfield during halftime, smoked a peace pipe, and voila! a controversy was born.
It took a full fifty years to reach maturity though, for it wasn’t until the mid-seventies when all relevant social issues had been used up, that some idealistic fops figured that hyperbole in the creation of a new -ism was no vice. All the good social controversies had already been championed by some group [or more likely several groups], and latching onto one of them would make the wannabe activists seem trite and cliché.
The Vietnam War was over and Nixon was in hiding; Civil Rights legislation was long on the books and backlash hadn’t started yet; feminism had more than enough spokesmen, er, -women, er, -persons; the neo-prohibitionists of MADD were still having keg parties; the world was still heading for a New Ice Age due to mankind’s polluted atmosphere and it was even ten years before the Gores would invent the internet and attempt to ban rock music … what was a socially-aware college student to do??? So few burning issues, and so much spare time in which to fret.
But wait! Didn’t Europeans move here in droves and displace the native Amerinds?
Why, yes we did, shame on us! We stole their land!
And now, by using their images for our purposes, we’re stealing their heritage! So shame on us all over again!
These activists without a cause contacted the Peoria in Oklahoma to drum up some indignation, and the Peoria responded with an indifferent shrug of their once-nearly-mighty shoulders. They didn’t care.
Undaunted, the undergrads amended the would-be righteousness of their movement with their own self-important opinions, and set out to fill the void of actual outrage with self-flagellating proxy outrage.
As with so many other things, indignation is much easier to choreograph by proxy. Activists will be indignant on Indians’ behalf since those Indians have been beaten down by the white man and cannot muster their own. Circular logic, being extremely handy here, defines “beaten down” to be proven by “do not care”. More evidence of this white man down-beating: they also do not care about what a group of self-important white children claim they should care about.
This brings us to the contrived controversy we see today. Whole herds of ink and entire flocks of pixels have been slaughtered since the mid-seventies to satisfy our craving for gratuitous activism. And gratuitous it is. All vestiges of intellectual vigor have long ago left the pop-activist.
Social activism of the 40s and 50s required actual courage. Courage in conviction, and courage to stand up to the masses of people who didn’t want things to change no matter the reason. Courage without having a substantial basis for desiring, indeed demanding, change doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Some of us looked at our principles and looked at the real conditions, and concluded that they didn’t match.
You actually needed to think to reach this conclusion. Those who reached a different conclusion – such as that blacks were uppity or women needed more housework to do – were either the actual bigots who believed it, or they were the well-meaning majority who hadn’t actually thought about it. When compelled to think by the social activists, the well-meaning majority ultimately reached the same conclusion as the activists who thought about it before them … and society changed as a result.
We’re in a polar opposite mindset today. We are so used to hearing that minority groups are being denied their rights that we are reflexively responding as if it’s axiomatically true – without thinking about it. To a very large degree, and with likely the lone example of gay marriage to the contrary, today’s social activists are the ones completely lacking in intellectual capacity, and using the gullibilities of the well-meaning but non-thinking millions as their dupes.
These faux-enlightened twits are not the bigots who gratuitously denied the need for social change as were their counterparts in the Civil Rights Era; they are the photographic negative of the bigots. They gratuitously demand social change [and whine and stamp their feet and wet their panties until they get it] even though the social change they demand satisfies nothing in our society’s stated principles.
And the mindless millions, so used to accepting these claims after two generations of practice, go along with it and don’t think about it.
We’ve progressed from a tyranny upon minorities to a tyranny by minorities. And since that would seem to be where American History started, with us overthrowing the condescending minority monarchy of the British Crown, it’d seem we’ve come full circle. What have we learned from the exercise?
Opponents of Chief Illiniwek are today’s standard-bearer for the know-nothings.
Colleges and universities the nation over have human-icon mascots for their sports teams. Yet only when those mascots are derived of Amerind inspiration are those mascots considered “demeaning”. The insipid hypocrisy of this position should be apparent to all, but let’s just take a minute to beat the same dead horse for the newcomers.
Chief Illiniwek and “the fighting Illini” are an insult to the Amerind heritage even though those whom the mascot specifically references do not care one way or another; but a drunken, leprechaunish Irishman used as a mascot for “the fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is not an insult to Irish heritage … because those whose heritage he represents do not care.
Chief Illiniwek is insulting to Amerinds but the Trojans of USC, and the Spartans of Michigan State [and of Maine-Endwell High School] are not insulting to Ionian or Peloponnesian Greeks. Neither are various Knights, Crusaders, or Warriors insulting to the Europeans descended from medieval Europeans – i.e., all Europeans – or the Frankish forebears of today’s Frogs, or of any culture that maintained its position and power by having wars … which is to say all of humanity.
The enlightenment necessary to identify this ethnic slight is entirely dependent upon the whims of current fashion, which is as anti-intellectual as you can get. Pick any fashion anywhere at any time, from the ruffled collars of Elizabethan England to the platform shoes of the disco-bopping seventies; it wasn’t necessity which drove it. It wasn’t even utility. It was plain old garden variety vanity.
Fashion is a “dig me” undertaking. The faux-enlightened who pushed the belief that Chief Illiniwek was “demeaning” to Amerinds were attempting to get the millions of mindless but well-meaning Americans to see them as concerned. “We’re trying to help the Illini Indians” is the subtext of their actions.
Hell, it’s often an outright assertion.
Yet the only descendants of the Illini Confederation are the Peoria in Oklahoma and their own website contains not one word about Chief Illiniwek – for or against – but they have many references to the environmental cleanup of their reservation, which none of the faux-enlightened seem to be concerned enough to help with.
Their concern would appear to be limited to wetting their panties in public rather than doing anything tangible.
But the infantile posturing they’ve done has inspired those wanting to keep Chief Illiniwek to make their own idiotic claims. When the faux-enlightened made the claim “This icon is demeaning to Indians”, the supporters of Chief Illiniwek counterclaimed the opposite: “No, it’s being done to honor Indians”.
In truth, it’s neither. The Trojan at USC isn’t used to “honor” the Ionian Greeks of the city-state of Troy. It’s used to create an image that people can identify with or draw inspiration from. Big hairy deal. No one got permission from the Trojans’ descendants before adopting the Trojan as a mascot at USC. It’s unneeded. For the NCAA to require that same permission from Amerind descendants is an unnecessary hurdle for the purpose of making the mindless masses assume that the NCAA is – like the condescending intellectually crippled activists – enlightened.
They aren’t enlightened, they aren’t concerned; they’re cowards. They are cowards cravenly crouching in the face of bored undergrads desperately seeking social relevance without actually having to expend individual effort.
In just a very brief perusal of the Illini descendants’ website, I’ve identified these several areas in which the Peoria Indians have, in writing, declared they might be benefited in manifest ways by anyone who desires to help them:
1] “Continue to conduct a baseline assessment for the Spring River, Tar Creek, Warren’s Branch and Flint Branch”;
2] “Continue to conduct a Bio-Assessment in Tribal Jurisdictional waters”;
3] “To remove or cleanup existing illegal and open dump sites within the Peoria Tribal boundaries”; and
4] “[To create] a recycling program, [which] could contribute by reducing the solid waste stream being generated by tribal facilities, provide a measure of income to offset recycling costs, and reduce the present cost of trash disposal for tribal facilities.”
And this list was collected from just one page of their website dealing with “environmental programs”. Just imagine what the bored undergrad could find to do for them if he looked at the “Inter-Tribal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Center” page. Or the Buffalo Run Casino construction project page[s]. Not to mention the Fair Housing pages, or the Health Services pages, or the Reservation Roads page, or the various Indian Child pages. Et al.
…or the bored undergrads, not to mention their sycophantic supporters and the NCAA which offers easy and absolutist absolution, can be satisfied that they have adequately served the remnants of the Illini Confederacy by whining and weeping and wetting their panties over an icon. And another batch of Amerinds, and the issues which beset them, will continue to be marginalized.
One of these requires work, the other grants superficial access to smug self-satisfaction. Hmmm. Which to choose…
 …according to Peoria descendants… http://www.nps.gov/archive/jeff/LewisClark2/Circa1804/Heritage/NativeAmericans/NativeAmericanInfluence.htm
 There’s 2788 as of May 2006, as counted by the Peoria Tribe itself. See “Interesting Facts”, page 8.
 Europeans “stole” Amerind land in general. With specific reference to the Illini, though, their land was well in the process of being “stolen” by the Iroquois, the Sioux, the Fox, the Kickapoo, the Huron, et al long before Pere Marquette laid eyes on the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.
 And once again, proving that irony knows no politics, among the perpetual claims of the ideologues on this issue is that one of the sins of “white man” was that he “patronized” the natives in his dealings with them. But telling the Amerinds what they should care about is different, isn’t it? But for the fact that it’s not, they’re right.