Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thoughts on "Political Correctness" and the Helen Thomas Controversy

Last week, the Chicago "Blackhawks" won the Stanley Cup.  This was great news for Chicago hockey fans and fans of hockey's "original six." This was Chicago's first Cup in 54 years.  Yet all I could focus on during the games was the team jerseys, and particularly the Chicago logo.

Now, I know that this is a long-standing controversy.  I also know that to question the use of American Indian mascots for entertainment purposes puts me squarely within the "politically correct" camp, a hopeless liberal hell-bent on taking all our great American pleasures away from us.  I get all of that.  But I still can't help it.

These images are everywhere, from college campuses to major league baseball, and professional football.  They pervade our sports culture.  That does not make them any less offensive, or discriminatory.  Thinking about this debate also helped me put the recent Helen Thomas outburst, and her subsequent "retirement," in perspective.

Here's a quick and dirty answer to this debate.  If the use of American Indians as institutional symbols is an honor bestowed upon a great people, and intended as such, why then not spread the honor to other groups? I have in mind something like this:

I, for one, would love a mascot of a puertorican jibaro wielding a knife (or a machete) on one hand and a cuatro on the other.

You don't have to agree with me on any of this in order to find the recent Helen Thomas controversy a bit off-putting.  According to Ms. Thomas, Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine," and Jews should "go home . . . to Poland and Germany."  After offering these remarks, Ms. Thomas soon apologized, and within a few days "retired."

This is hypocritical on many levels.  For my purposes here, I must ask: what makes these attacks on Helen Thomas' views a legitimate response to "hateful" forms of expression?  If we can retire Ms. Thomas on the basis of something she said, how else must we understand this response but as "political correctness" run amok?

Could American Indian mascots be next?

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