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The Racist Mascot from Urbana-Champaign

Why You Should Boo Illinois

by FRANCIS BOYLE

The self-styled "Fighting Illini" of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are on their way to the NCAA Final Four in St. Louis with their racist and genocidal sports teams mascot, Chief Illiniwak, still in tow. In his "Year 501: The Conquest Continues" (1993) Noam Chomsky suggests an apt metaphor for such American Indian sports mascots that I will elaborate upon here in order to conform to our local and most peculiar rites on this campus:

Suppose the Nazis had won the Second World War. Sixty years later, a prestigious German state university has a mascot for all of its sports teams and sports fans by the name of "The Rabbi." Basically what happens is that a student from the White Aryan Youth League dresses up in an authentic costume for an Hasidic Rabbi, complete with the curl-locks and beard. The sports teams collectively call themselves "The Fighting Jews", and the school’s band is called "The Marching Jews." All the sports fans in town wear jackets and t-shirts with pictures of The Rabbi prominently displayed on them. And most cars have Rabbi stickers planted all over them. A year ago the University’s Board of Trustees ran out of town on a rail a courageous and principled Chancellor who had the temerity to publicly suggest that the time had now come to "retire" the Rabbi. So of course there is a heated campaign on among the students and alumni to "Save the Rabbi!"

This German state university plays its soccer matches over at the Nuremberg Stadium in front of an audience of about 75,000 White Aryans , almost all of whom are wearing pro- Rabbi images and clothes. At half-time the Marching Jews take to the stadium floor and begin playing what they purport to be Jewish sounding music along the lines of Fiddler-on-the-Roof. Then all 75,000 White Aryans rise as one and shout in unison: "Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi" gesticulating wildly and working themselves up into a feeding frenzy. One lone faculty member sits there in protest shouting "Racist Rabbi!" and everyone in the vicinity proceeds to throw garbage at him. Finally, the moment these ardent White Aryans have all waited for has arrived. The Rabbi runs out onto the arena floor from among the Marching Jews,proceeds to the center of the Nuremberg Stadium, and dances the Hava Nagila while the Marching Jews play on and march into an intricately choreographed maneuver that they all brag about and take special pride in that culminates with the band being organized into a swastika. So the Rabbi continues to dance the Hava Nagila while the Marching Jews form themselves into a swastika..By now all 75,000 White Aryans are hysterical, shouting, screaming and yelling: "Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi." This semi-religious spectacle that the Nazis are well known for staging, especially at the Nuremberg stadium, goes on for a good ten minutes. It all concludes with everyone joining hands to sign Deutschland Uber Alles, with the Rabbi leading all 75,000 White Aryans in the song. Then the Rabbi proceeds to dance the Hava Nagila out of the stadium followed by the Marching Jews. Everyone goes wild, clapping and cheering. This Rabbi ceremony brings tears to the eyes of many drunken alumni and students who had started several hours beforehand getting inebriated on schnapps and good German beer at pre-game tailgate parties..

When it is all over, a visiting law professor from another country asks his host at the soccer match what this spectacle was all about.Without missing a beat the former Dean of the Law School turns to his guest and says:"We are honoring the Jews." Whom the Nazis had just exterminated 60 years ago, so of course the memory of the Jews needs to be honored by this spectacle at every home soccer match and basketball game. The Illiniwek Indians were ethnically cleansed out of Illinois about a century before that. These are the real "Little Eichmans." Be sure to "boo!" and root against them in St. Louis.

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Foundations of World Order, Duke University Press, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, and Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, by Clarity Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU