Right-Wing Sites Say It's Actually More Woke To Keep Racist Baseball Team Names
For some conservatives, using racial slurs or whining about how it's not fair that Black people can use the n-word and they can't is simply not enough. They need, for whatever reason, to also have sports teams with racial slurs for names, and they need it desperately.
So desperately, in fact, that two prominent conservative sites actually tried to make the case that it would be more woke for the newly-minted Cleveland Guardians to stay the Cleveland Indians.
On Breitbart, Alana Mastrangelo tried to make the case that changing the name was an insult to Cleveland Spider's Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American in major league baseball, to whom the name was supposedly, possibly a tribute.
Soon after being signed by the Cleveland Spiders in early 1897, Sockalexis wowed local sportswriters, who began referring to the team as the "Indians," and by the end of March that year, the name "Spiders" was virtually forgotten. [...]
In January 1915, team owner Charles Somers decided to revive the local nickname — which had previously defined the city's National League club — and officially named the team the Cleveland Indians, says SABR.
While some historians claim Somers chose a Native American-esque name, in part, to mimic the Atlanta Braves — due to being inspired by the team winning the World Series a year earlier — the name "Cleveland Indians" is nonetheless the stark revival of the team's old byname.
But 106 years later, in the wake of political correctness, cancel culture, and the woke mob running rampant, the Cleveland Indians — a name presumably derived from Somers reminiscing about the period of excitement that Sockalexis brought to Cleveland in 1897 — is no more.
Oh how sad for Louis Sockalexis that he can no longer be honored by a grotesque caricature of his people, who, just for the record, were not from India. They were not "Indians." They were Penobscot. The only reason they were called "Indians" is because a genocidal Italian dude refused to admit he got lost.
Speaking of which. The first Italian-American baseball player was Ed Abbaticchio, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies. Would Mastroangelo prefer that they changed their name to the Philadelphia Dagos to honor him? Or the Philadelphia Mafiosi? Or the Philadelphia Handsome But Comically Stupid Stock Characters? That would be super weird, right? Like, even if one were not particularly offended by it, it would at least feel unnecessary. And not remotely like an "honor."
When honoring people, it's important to take into consideration what they might want. And I don't think anyone would want to be honored like this:
Over at the National Review, Nicholas Frankovich tried to argue that if the Cleveland Indians are changing their name, why is it still okay for teams to named after Northern European ethnic groups, huh?
The reasons most often cited for objecting to "Indians" never added up, as you noticed if you calculated with a close eye and an open mind. Let's run through the main two reasons, quickly.
To name a sports team after an ethnicity is to demean the ethnicity. Unless, apparently, we're talking about northwestern Europeans — Vikings, Celtics, Yankees, Fighting Irish.
If you say that it isn't racist to name a team after certain European ethnicities, I don't disagree. If you then maintain that it is racist to name a team after a people whom European settler-colonizers displaced, please explain.[...]
Over the years, to no avail, I've asked friends and foes to make explicit the logic that leads them to aver that "Indians" is a racist team name but that "Yankees," for example, is not. They've left me to do the work for them.
Frankovich has a guess. It's not a very good guess.
Since our premise is that it's demeaning to a people to attach their name to a sports team, to do so when the people in question are not at the bottom of a presumed status hierarchy has a leveling effect: The distance between them and those deemed to have suffered greater historical humiliation is reduced. The principle of equality is thereby served.
Nope, that would not be it.
The New York Yankees were actually Yankees. It would be a bit different, I suppose, if it were the Georgia Yankees and the teams merchandise relied on culturally ridiculous depictions of Yankees as vicious carpetbaggers, but that is not the case. The Boston Celtics? So named because there were a lot of Irish people in Boston and actually did honor those people. Because it wasn't a slur. It's not like they named them the Boston Micks. Their mascot is a sassy leprechaun, not a drunk priest. This is not hard.
Even in the case of the Fighting Irish? The name was chosen by Irish people. At a Catholic university.
Indigenous people were not involved in the choosing of these team names. They did not have that power. The team names were chosen not to celebrate them but to invoke shitty stereotypes of Native Americans as violent "savages."
None of this is hard, none of it is complicated. These people don't literally think that the name or the caricature "honors" a Native American baseball player and they don't actually think that naming your team The Indians or, you know, the other one, is the same thing as people in a largely Irish city naming their team The Celtics. No one thinks that.
They're just scared and they want to go back to a time when they could just say whatever they wanted always and didn't have to worry about offending anyone, which would make a lot more sense if that had ever actually happened in the course of human history.
Wonkette is independent and fully funded by readers like you. Click below to tip us!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse