FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Smiling Face of Genocide in Cleveland

by

It’s crazy time again in Cleveland. Lake Erie has thawed. The snow has finally melted. Baseball season is underway. Once again the perennial argument over the Cleveland Indians team logo is heating up. As Washington Redskin fans debate the political correctness of their team name, Indians fans and detractors grapple with the propriety of the grinning visage of Chief Wahoo, official face of the Indians.

It’s beyond odd that Indians fans are having this debate in 2014. And getting emotional about whether or not the Chief Wahoo logo is or is not offensive. If history did not exist – that is, if Europeans had not flooded into North America killing and dispossessing every last indigenous person in their way, men women and children – then we might be able to take this debate seriously. But they did. So Chief Wahoo is the smiling face of genocide and that grin on his face very much resembles the skeletal smile of the Mexican calavera, a satirical dig at folks who take themselves so very seriously when we all know where we’re all headed. Of course as many people like to deny the future as they do the past.

Would German soccer fans adopt a team logo based on a grinning Jew? Maybe call him Der Judenhauptling, with long Hasidic curls and a smile brighter than the ovens of Auschwitz, as the face of a survivor – like Chief Wahoo – whose triumph is symbolic if not actual. They could also refer to their team as “The Tribe.” We get to romanticize the victims of our rapacity once they are safely annihilated. Or reduce them to harmless caricatures. Why not just call the Cleveland baseball team “The Noble Savages”? Their logo could be a naked man with a spear.

It might be more appropriate to honor the winners of the real estate wars, the gun-toting buffalo hunters and massacre makers who “won the West”? A big white guy with a rifle and a grin (with maybe a couple of teeth missing) and wide-brimmed hat pushed back on his head: Joe Slaughter, logo of The Well-Poisoners or The Scarlet Fever Blanket Bringers. Joe Slaughter would wipe the grins off the faces of the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Redskins. No treaties honored with primitives. Got it?

Some sarcastic fans have suggested that the Indians could refer to natives of the Indian subcontinent, in which case the team totem could be Vishnu. But baseball is as foreign to South Asia as Hinduism is to the American Midwest. Of course a wahoo is a tropical game fish, prized for its strength and speed and good eating. Chief Wahoo could be converted into a grinning fish, with the team name switched to the Barracudas. Chief Wahoo and the Barracudas. Kind of catchy.

But maybe most appropriate might be to change Chief Wahoo to Chief Yahoo, in the sense that Jonathan Swift wrote about in his fantastic novel Gulliver’s Travels. Swift’s voyager, Lemuel Gulliver, found the Yahoos, creatures resembling human beings, to be obsessed with the pretty stones they found by digging in mud. Swift intended them to be satires of the distasteful materialism and mindless elitism he saw in Britain. Yahoo has come to mean “a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person.”

Chief Yahoo could personify a team called The Rabid Capitalists or The Investment Bankers, names to strike fear in the hearts of all but the most hardened One Percenters.

JAMES McENTEER is the author of Shooting the Truth: the Rise of American Political Documentaries (Praeger 2006).

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail