January 28, 2007

Illini mascot isn't a mascot?

Illiniwek:  Symbol or mascot?The chief's supporters prefer the term "symbol" and say that "mascot" has become the politically correct word used by critics who believe the chief is a politically incorrect representation of Native Americans. They say the anti-chief camp uses the word "mascot" to make it sound as if the chief is demeaning to Native Americans.

What chief supporters don't seem to realize is that their choice of the word "symbol" is just as political as "mascot." They think "symbol" makes the chief sound more dignified and better describes their view that the chief is a respectful tribute to the native people of Illinois.
Why these supporters are wrong:McKean...said that because Chief Illiniwek performs at football, basketball and volleyball games, and sports teams have mascots, it makes more sense to call Chief Illiniwek a mascot.

"The context expects a mascot," McKean said. "By trying to elevate it to the symbol context, then there is a problem. A symbol is certainly a more dignified word. Symbols do not usually dance."

"Look, mascot is the name of these things," Nunberg said. "This isn't just a symbol. There is a guy out there in a chief suit."

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