Tuesday, March 15, 2005

...And so it begins....

...And so it begins....Those are the words King Theoden said to Lord Aragorn at the beginning of the battle of Helms Deep in "The Two Towers."

As virtually everyone knows, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (my alma mater) is the number one ranked basketball team in the nation and they have an excellent chance to win their first hoops national championship.

The team nickname is the "Fighting Illini." The Illini, or Illinois Indians were a tribe based in the north central part of the state. That state is of course called Illinois.

The mascot for the Fighting Illini is Chief Illiniwek, who has represented the football and basketball teams for the unversity since the 1920s. About 2o years ago, activists began complaining that the Chief is "insulting" to Native Americans. And racist In my opinion, the Chief is insulting to these activists. Your "man on the street" Indian could care less about Chief Illiniwek one way or the other. And some probably like him!

Still, complaining about racist mascots is an excellent way to get media attention. Especially when it involves a top-ranked team. Which why this afternoon the up-until-now unknown Illinois Native American Bar Association filed suit in Cook County Court (135 miles north of Urbana-Champaign, but very close to many media outlets) to essentially, kill off the Chief.

They say Chief Illiniwek is a racist caricature and "violates civil rights." I guess we have to wait for the suit to go to trial before we'll learn how the Chief violates peoples' civil rights.

And if the Fighting Illini go to the Final Four, expect more civil rights violations.

No comments: