LETTER: Misinformation spreads on Chief issue

In response to the Oct. 10, commentary from George Benge:

Mr. Benge is misinformed. The name “Fighting Illini” was first used to honor Illinois alums who fought in World War I.

Chief Illiniwek was created with cultural sensitivity, and with advice and material provided by Native Americans.

The Chief represents admirable characteristics. It is not demeaning or offensive to represent admirable characteristics.

The Chief is not a stereotype. “Stereotype” means an oversimplified standardized image held by one group of another. No one believes that the Chief represents any real Native American. We merely admire the beauty and power of the Chief symbol.

There is no “blatant misrepresentation” or “demeaning fantasy,” real or intended.

No group, including Native Americans, should be able to prevent another group from using symbols to represent admirable characteristics. No group or culture owns symbols. What next? Will Brazilians be able to object to non-Brazilians dancing the tango?

The Chief is not divisive because of the Chief creators, the Native Americans who helped in his creation, or those who continue to love and support the Chief. Who has made the Chief divisive? Why?

Under no rational standard can Chief Illiniwek be objectionable while the Florida State symbol is approved. Neither is a stereotype. Yet, the NCAA astoundingly thinks it can give certain groups control over symbols they did not create and which do no real harm.

This is not a rational exercise in determining what symbols are good or bad or inherently insulting. It is an unjustified attempt by certain groups to exercise control over others’ use of symbols. These groups know that they cannot own and control such symbols. Therefore, they make false, unfounded accusations. Words (such as “stereotype”) are given twisted meanings and are misused.

A beautiful and powerful symbol and many thousands of good people are being slandered.

Joel Carter

Moline, IL