Letter: Different scales

By The Daily Illini

Last Friday, March 11, Jonathan Driscoll asked how many people from the Anti-Chief group were also Anti-Irish – against “unofficial” and against Notre Dame’s mascot.

I am one of those people who was offended by Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. I am Irish and was offended that students across campus were using a stereotype of the Irish as an excuse to be drunk all day.

However, what Driscoll needs to realize is that the Chief and the leprechaun/unofficial are on completely different scales. First of all, the leprechaun doesn’t employ a stereotype of the Irish people; though rooted in Irish folklore, it doesn’t give anybody the wrong idea of Irish traditions. Irish folklore does employ the idea of leprechauns; often, these leprechauns were tricky and spirited, so why would any Irish person be offended that the leprechaun is being used for a mascot at Notre Dame? Secondly, Notre Dame is an Irish university. Maybe it’s not as Irish as it used to be, but it’s rooted in Irish traditions. The University of Illinois is not rooted in Native American culture. Sure, some Native Americans can come to school here now, but how many do you seriously think were able to come to the University when it first was established? Was the University established by Native Americans?

Unofficial does use an Irish stereotype; however, there is a vast difference between employing a stereotype once a year and employing it 24/7 all year. Unofficial and the Chief are on completely different scales. If I am going to fight against stereotypes, I will go with the most offensive first – the one that employs a stereotype all the time. The Chief wears the clothes of a Plains Native American; the Illini were Woodland Native Americans and would have worn much different clothing. The Chief uses a dance completely modified from any dance the Illini or the Lakota (from whom the dance was first derived) would have performed. The dance was adapted for sporting events, and doesn’t help anyone learn more about the Illini or Native Americans in general; it employs the Native American stereotype of the proud warrior leading the people to battle. Also, the music the Chief dances to is purely the creation of white Americans; it is completely foreign to any musical tradition held by Native Americans.

In short, yes, I was offended by Unofficial. However, if fighting for human rights is this hard since people refuse to believe that stereotypes are being employed, and that stereotypes are harmful to any minority group, I will fight for those most hurting – and right now, that priority for me is against Chief Illiniwek.

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Liz Rogers

freshman in LAS