A holistic look at the Chief controversy

By Cassidy C Browning

The anxieties around the “Chief” mascot have illuminated anxieties around cultural, gender and queer studies programs.

These “minority” studies programs are, by some, perceived as an embodiment of political correctness gone too far, and have been characterized as “parasitic,” among other things.

At the heart of these tensions is the main purpose of political correctness and such “minority” studies programs: To give a voice to the previously voiceless, and to treat all peoples and cultures as equal and equally valid for scholarship.

Why would such efforts be perceived as malicious? The only answer I see is that political correctness seeks to evenly distribute power, thereby reducing the power of the “majority” group; hence the hostility demonstrated by the “majority” group.

Also, many criticisms have been directed at the anti-“Chief” mascot movement because there are more important or valid issues with which to deal.

Certainly, the mascot may seem insignificant when compared to the AIDS pandemic in Africa, but that does not render it irrelevant. In fact, work on any other issues of race and ethnicity is futile when the mascot of the University is a racialized stereotype.

Regardless of how “honorable” one feels the “Chief” mascot to be, it is still a stereotype, and all stereotypes dehumanize.

Finally, claims of authenticity have been proven false, and tradition proves a weak argument when it is a tradition that was taken from others.

Removal of the “Chief” mascot in its physical incarnation is not enough. All iconography and reference should be removed; otherwise, the action is empty.

The “Chief” mascot is inherently problematic and should be retired completely. Also, the rights to the “Chief” logo should be given to a Native organization, as inaction could lead to further misappropriation. This situation must be dealt with responsibly and completely.

Cassidy C Browning,

graduate student