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Saturday, August 14, 2021

Maskism, Mascots, And Cancel Culture–A Perfect Storm Of Woke Self-Caricature

Margaret Penfield had been on the front lines of COVID activism since the beginning.  She had been one of the first volunteers in her neighborhood to enforce masks and social distancing; and she, a true believer, a woman of righteousness and right action, did so with a vengeance.

She called out those who were not complying with CDC orders, confronted them on quiet residential streets, in front of those few establishments that were open, and wherever she could find them.  She gave new meaning to vigilance for she felt that hers was an existential cause.  As much as she had been at the forefront against global warming, prejudice, and the glass ceiling, this was different.  It was a plague of universal proportions, the big one which could annihilate  humanity.  It was an existential event which only if people rallied to the cause might, just might, be stopped. J’accuse! was her cri de guerre.

Image result for images donald sutherland invasion of the body snatchers

Her voice became shrill, her attitude threatening, and her resolve pure and unmitigated.  As the virus went through its various stages of coming and going, openings and closings, she was always there – at her sports club to help them enforce mask mandates; at PTA meetings to demand COVID compliance; and in every public and private venue that would let her in.  

She was a welcome speaker at the Church of Christ whose pastor, no stranger to social causes (large lawn signs proclaimed justice, Black Lives Matter, and environmental concern) and she did not disappoint.  Her harangues were Biblical and as passionate as those of any street preacher on Union Square. Now was the time, she told the congregation, to act, to obey, and to do the right thing.  It was the moral way and God’s way.

This was her time, a time of revolutionary social reform, and individual purpose.  Not only were there battles to be won against an insidious virus, but against the naysayers, the millions of Americans who were indifferent to matters of race, gender, and ethnicity; who walked idly by Confederate statues, raised thermostats, drove needlessly, and cheered football teams whose mascots were racist throwbacks to an earlier genocidal time.   

Margaret took it upon herself to address all these issues, to right all these ills.  She and her colleagues formed the new wave of American reformers who would see their racist, homophobic, capitalist country brought to the ground and replaced by a progressive Utopia of good will, harmony, compassion, and companionship. 

There would be no holds barred in this righteous, moral battle, and no prisoners taken.  The ends would justify the means.  History, used so often to justify Machiavellian usurpers, slavery, intellectual bondage, and white privilege would be consigned to its own dustbin.  Now was the Year Zero, a paean to Pol Pot’s Maoist Revolution, a time when all traces of the bourgeois society which had befouled and corrupted a good place would be expunged.  Millions died or were murdered in a Cambodian Great Leap Forward, but a new, just, and perfect few would replace the old.

Image result for images mao great leap forward

It is hard to know for Margaret to know where to begin, since her causes were many.  Her favorite was the war on cultural offensiveness.  While considered by many to be of peripheral interest to the overall progressive struggle, to Margaret renaming sports teams and removing their racist mascots was central to the cause.

Sports was a religion in America.  Millions of fans filled stadiums and arenas every day.  Their field heroes were their gods, their teams their alter egos, and their victories celestial.  Changing the offensive names of teams and expunging every reference to callous, indifferent, culturally ignorant and mindless icons was not at all peripheral.  It would send a message to America.   It would bring down sports stadiums, the cathedrals of America.

The avant-garde of this cancelling juggernaut went after the Cleveland Indians, a baseball team for over 100 years, and whose name derived not from any pejorative, insulting, or demeaning purpose; but to honor the Native American who played on one of their earliest teams and who was such a standout that he became the face of the franchise.  The team was unofficially and fondly called the ‘Indians’ and after some years changed its name officially.  The logo of the team was a playful image of an Indian – expressing the very personal attachment fans had for the superstar and his team. 

The selection of the team’s logo had nothing to do with prejudice, discrimination, or racism.  It was an image of team spirit, origins, ethos, camaraderie, affection, and support.

However, thanks to Margaret and her legion of cultural reformers, the team’s ownership changed the team’s names from the Indians to the Guardians – a name which was derived from two Art Deco statues on a Cleveland bridge who were portrayed as guardian angels, protecting those who drove over the bridge.  All but the wokest cultural warriors were appalled.  To change the name of a team which had been the cultural center of the city for so long, and to erase the image of its respectful historical origins was unconscionable.  Nevertheless, ownership capitulated to fractional demands, and the 2022 Cleveland baseball team will be known as the Guardians.

The case of the Washington Redskins is similar.  The team for decades played under this name with an Indian-themed logo both meant to symbolize Native American courage, valor, and distinction in their fight for sovereignty and independence.  For decades no one including Native Americans complained about the name of the team.  In fact the name ‘redskins’ was first used by a Native American chief in a letter to Union officials,  “I shall be pleased to have you come to speak to me yourself if you pity our women and our children; and, if any redskins do you harm, I shall be able to look out for you even at the peril of my life,” Chief Mosquito said in his letter of 1769, according to a 2005 study by Ives Goddard, the Smithsonian Institution’s senior linguist emeritus.

Image result for Images Washington Redskins Logo. Size: 222 x 204. Source: www.olneywinery.com

Indian names of professional teams such as the Indians, the Redskins, the Braves, the Chiefs, the Warriors  were chosen because of attributes of courage, ferocity, honor, and valor.  They were not in origin, history, or usage pejorative. The assumption that teams chose their names and their logos because of prejudice is absurd.  They chose images that reflected those characteristics which best described them; or from the culture of Native American tribes nearby. 

There are hundreds of college and high school teams which have had American Indian names and logos, and many have refused to change them.   Florida State, the University of Utah, and Central Michigan are among them.  The Indian-themed names are inoffensive, such as Mohawks, Choctaws, and Moccasins.; but many school under ‘progressive’ woke pressure, felt it necessary to change them.

This cultural purification did not stop with Native Americans.  In fact it started with the Confederacy and ‘progressives’ began a witch hunt to expose, malign, dismiss, and remove any historical reference to the Confederate South. Every statue to Confederate heroes must be removed, they said.  Every school name chosen to reflect Confederate history must be changed.  Every street, highway, and road with Confederate era names must be ‘realigned’, especially with the names of black slave-era women.

Most infamously, Virginian Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father of America, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights; diplomat,  philosopher, President, and statesman, has been picked and pilloried by the Left for his slave-owning, miscegenist past.  His alleged dalliance with Sally Hemmings, a slave on his plantation, is enough to remove him from America’s pantheon, and attempts are being made to rename the thousands of schools, highways, public and private institutions that have honored him.  Fellow Virginian George Washington has also come under scrutiny because of his slave-owning history.

Image result for images thomas jefferson

By extension, reference to any national elected official who represented a Southern State during segregation, regardless of his accomplishments, achievements, or value to the country must be removed.  The named of official Washington buildings bearing the names of such ‘racist, segregationist’ men must reform and revise.

In other words, an important, central part of American history is to be removed.  If ‘progressives’ have their way, the Old South will never have existed.  Only the Union will be remembered for fighting ‘an ignominious foe’ to be unnamed. The ignorance of this cancel culture effort cannot be overemphasized.  The socio-economic conditions of the black man today, the persistence of dysfunctional inner cities, and the seeming impossibility of full integration into majority society, is dependent on an understanding of his origins and history.

So Margaret was as happy as could be.  Membership in the woke community gave her purpose, meaning, and identity.  She was one of a likeminded, righteous., moral crowd – cheers for them were cheers for her.  Every toppling of a Confederate statue was her triumph.  Every forcible removal of racist mascots and culturally offensive names was her victory.

The best part of it all was that wokism was a united, big tent movement.  All its efforts were based on the same critical assumption – the abject failure of capitalism and the perverted concepts of freedom and liberty which enabled it.  All liberal causes – environmentalism, racism, homophobia, sexism, and economic slavery- all boiled down to a virulent hatred of America and its founding principles.  So the feeling under the tent was riotously happy.  Everyone there, regardless of the particular cause to which they were most attached, was there together, loving, acting, cheering in unison.  Nothing could be more heady, so intoxicating, so transformative!

So, on it went, statue after statue, highway after highway, logo after logo – the ‘progressive’ juggernaut seemed to have to brakes; at least if one read the liberal, sycophantic press.  Out in the heartland, Americans were becoming angry at this increasing disrespect for flag and country, this assault on religious freedom, this closing down of free speech, and this increasing intolerance for anything but the received wisdom of wokism.

Sooner rather than later Margaret Penfield will have to find another avocation and return her very ordinary, predictable, and unexciting life.  This whole woke thing, after all – this vaudeville act, this side show, this circus high-wire extravaganza – will inevitably be shown for what it is.  People will no longer take it seriously, voters will roll it back, and life will go back to normal.

Image result for Images 19 Century Barnum and Bailey Big Top. Size: 147 x 204. Source: commons.wikimedia.org

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