For once I e-mailed my critique to the offending party. I received this response from Seth Tupper, who apparently wrote the editorial, the following morning:
I'm claiming just what the editorial says: "There have been protests against it, but none that have produced a sustained, popular effort to banish it." If you can't grasp that, perhaps you need to work on your reading comprehension skills.
"There have been protests against it" is hardly a claim, as you say, that "no one has ever protested Cleveland's Chief Wahoo." The fact that you're backing up your claim with a zero-comment post on an obscure Google Blogger site only serves to underscore my point that, though there have been protests, none have risen to the level of a "sustained, popular effort." It appears to me that all of the efforts you cited were fringe-type protests that cropped up years apart and failed to capture the nation's popular attention, which is exactly the point I made in the editorial.
But my posting was technically incorrect, so I updated its language. In every other way, Tupper's response is even more bogus than his original column. Let's see how.
To recap, in 15 seconds I found evidence of four decades of opposition: newspaper articles, protest videos, and a case that almost reached the US Supreme Court. That's the proverbial tip of the iceberg. In 15 minutes I could've found 60 times as much evidence: marches and demonstrations, editorials and op/ed pieces, condemnations by Native and civil rights organizations, documentaries and videos, books and websites, and lawsuits and court rulings.
In contrast, Tupper hasn't provided jack to support his claim that Indians haven't seriously protested Chief Wahoo. As far as I know, he made up his opinion out of thin air. I'm not even sure what qualifies a white guy in South Dakota to judge the Native opposition in Ohio.
But you can decide for yourself. Go reread my posting, or Google "Chief Wahoo." Which is more convincing: my evidence or Tupper's lack of evidence?
Wahoo is still around
Perhaps Tupper is foolishly judging the campaign against Chief Wahoo by its results. Chief Wahoo is still around, so there must not be any real opposition to him. Right?
That would be an ignorant position to hold. It would be (more) evidence of Tupper's lack of research or thought. Here are some reasons why Indians haven't eliminated Chief Wahoo yet.
1) Unlike South Dakota, there's no large group of Indians in Ohio. The Native population there is small and diffused.
2) High schools and colleges have students and faculty who are involved with the institution continuously for years. They're in position to combine their efforts and form an ongoing opposition to Indian mascots.
Nothing like that exist in pro sports, where most fans are adult individuals with no connection to each other. It's no surprise that mascot battles at the high-school and college levels are more intense than those at the pro level.
3) Unlike high schools and colleges, pro teams are rich and powerful. They have enormous economic clout, media support, and congressional backing. Antitrust exemptions give them free rein. Challenging them is like challenging any billion-dollar company: nearly impossible.
4) Unlike "Washington Redskins," Indians don't consider the phrase "Chief Wahoo" an ethnic slur. The US Trademark Office won't ban it simply because it sounds silly. Saying a cartoon image seems offensive is less effective than saying a dictionary defines it as offensive.
If there were a regional or national tribe called the Wahoo Indians, you can be sure they'd oppose Chief Wahoo. As it stands, the Fighting Sioux have a built-in constituency--Sioux Indians--that Chief Wahoo lacks. To protest this mascot in person, Indians must gather from tribes across the nation, travel to Cleveland, and then go home. The logistical problems ensure that Chief Wahoo will never get the maximum amount of attention.
Nevertheless, as I reported in Moving Away from Chief Wahoo, Cleveland is removing the image from its paraphernalia. And Major League Baseball removed the image from a special cap. Why would the team and league do this if the protests are having no effect? The changes suggest what Tupper doesn't get: that the persistent protests are enough to make a difference.
This focus on Chief Wahoo obscures the real point of Tupper's editorial. His claim was that Indians are inconsistent--i.e., hypocritical--about mascots. Chief Wahoo was merely the one (evidence-free) example he gave of this "inconsistency."
Are Indians inconsistent about mascots? Well, they've fought Chief Wahoo and other mascots since the 1970s, when they launched an era of activism. Most statistics claim there were about 3,000 Indian mascots at the high-school and college level and Indians have eliminated about 3/4 of them. That suggests a sustained, popular effort throughout our educational system.
In 2005 the NCAA ruled against 18 of the most stereotypical college Indian mascots, including the Fighting Sioux. I believe three schools got tribal permission to keep their mascots; the other 15 gave up and changed them. UND was the last of the offenders to bow to Native pressure.
Fifteen stereotypical mascots up, 15 stereotypical mascots down. So where exactly is the inconsistency? How can you be inconsistent with a 100% success rate?
At the pro level, teams have eliminated stereotypical logos and mascots such as the Braves' Chief Noc-A-Homa. A federal court ruled that one offender, the Washington Redskins, had an invalid trademark because it's an ethnic slur. Another court overturned this ruling on a technicality after Indians won the case on its merits.
Summing it up...Indians have rid themselves of 75% or more of the mascots at the school level...100% of the most stereotypical college mascots lacking tribal approval...and almost every pro offender except the Washington Redskins and Chief Wahoo. So again, where exactly is the inconsistency? If Tupper thinks "inconsistent" is a synonym for "incomplete," he's sadly mistaken.
If Chief Wahoo is just one example, as Tupper claims, let's hear all the other cases where Indians haven't seriously protested an offensive mascot. Give us 3-5 examples of a mascot Indians have tolerated that's as bad as Chief Wahoo, Chief Illiniwek, or the Fighting Sioux. One exception doesn't prove "inconsistency," bright boy, so put up or shut up.
Little paper criticizes big blog
Finally, Tupper attacks the popularity of this blog. In doing so, he veers even further into the stupidity. If he wants me to embarrass him, I'll be glad to do it.
First, he notes the lack of comments on my original posting. I posted it late Friday night and he responded early Saturday morning. Of course there weren't any comments between midnight and dawn, dummy.
The posting has comments now. Meanwhile, I don't see any comments on Tupper's editorial. I don't consider comments a measure of success, but if they are, I'm winning.
Next, Tupper calls Newspaper Rock an "obscure Google Blogger site." That's pretty funny coming from a tiny paper in a small town few people have ever heard of.
According to the City of Mitchell website, this prairie pit stop had 14,558 people in 2000. The newspaper's circulation must be a few thousand. Meanwhile, my nationally read website got 20,535 pageviews last Friday, or 1.5 times the town's entire population.
I don't know how many people read my Chief Wahoo posting. It's on the blog's front page for a week...posted on PECHANGA.net and Facebook...and tweeted and retweeted on Twitter. Some fans subscribe to the blog or see the postings in RSS feeds. I'd guess the number of views is comparable to the number of views Tupper's editorial got: a few thousand.
I don't feel bad comparing my blog to a bump in the road where the big news includes "Holiday Garbage Collection," "Street Closing," and "Cabela's Gobbler Contest." I'll take my significance over Mitchell's any day.
Googling the impact
A better measure of an item's impact--its sustained popularity, to use Tupper's terms--is its search-engine ranking. Let's Google mitchell republic chief wahoo and examine the results.
Guess which item comes up first. Surprise! It's my posting on Tupper's editorial. Yep, my commentary on his ignorance is no. 1.
But where is Tupper's editorial? As of this writing, it's a dismal 42nd in the rankings. That's a big improvement from the search I did over the weekend, when it was 99th. I suspect my link to it actually boosted its popularity from pathetically insignificant to moderately unimportant.
If the Hicksville Republic is a typical website, its links will expire eventually. Then the editorial will drop off Google's list. Meanwhile, my critique of Tupper's claims should remain online indefinitely--presumably in the no. 1 position. As far as I'm concerned, people can find and read about Tupper's folly for the next 100 years.
In short, my critique has a hell of a lot more reach than Tupper's editorial does. If he's satisfied with my "obscurity," I'm satisfied with his. It's tough to choose between no. 1 and no. 42, but I'll go with no. 1.
Tupper's unsubstantiated claims that:
remain some of the most ignorant opinions ever published on Indian mascots. Try researching and rethinking the subject before you open your mouth next time, buddy. Critics like me are watching you.
For more on Chief Wahoo, see Chief Wahoo Candy Bars and The Many Meanings of "Wahoo."
P.S. This is a good example of why it's pointless to contact people about their mistakes and stereotypes. Inevitably they dream up more spurious arguments and I have to spend hours explaining why I'm right and they're wrong.