For a while, I was actually concerned that in some near-term politically-correct future, my beloved alma mater, Hortonville High School, would have to change its mascot from the Polar Bear to the Baby Harp Seal or the Emperor Penguin or some critter along those lines. After all, my parents both graduated from Oshkosh High School - long before there were four high schools in that city - and were proud Oshkosh Indians - long before what’s now Oshkosh West High School had to change the mascot from “Indians” to “Wildcats”.
For a while, mascot-changing was rampant in Wisconsin, under the Doyle administration, when the politically-correct-police were put in charge of a new committee to make us all feel bad about native American-themed mascots. Now, the tide has apparently turned.
A Waukesha County judge has ruled the Mukwonago High School Indians can continue being the Indians, and the state’s attempt to force them to change mascots was unconstitutional. The Reader’s Digest version is that the judge ruled that the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) bureaucrat who tried to force the change…a dude named Paul Sherman…had an “impermissibly high risk of bias”.
I’m really not certain why the good folks of the village of Hortonville decided years ago to select the Polar Bear as a mascot. I always liked it, because it was unique, and the Polar Bear is considered a powerful and self-reliant critter. I was a staffer on our high school newspaper, the Polar Cub. In sports, we played teams like the Omro Foxes, the Winneconne Wolves, and, yes – the Berlin Indians. And the Clintonville Truckers, so-named because of the huge Four-Wheel-Drive plant there.
The thing that annoyed me so much about the politically correct forces in Madison is that they completely ignored the simple fact that mascots are selected because they are reflective of the community’s roots (Clintonville Truckers, Kimberly Papermakers, Ashland Oredockers, Stoughton Vikings, DeForest Norskies), or that the mascot possesses qualities which we wish to emulate.
I’m not offended that Notre Dame calls itself the “Fighting Irish”. They could have called them “The Drunken Micks” and it wouldn’t have bothered me a bit. Same with the Boston Celtics. I have no idea why any “native American” would be annoyed that a community like Berlin or Mukwonago or Oshkosh decided to use the Indian as its mascot, and I would make the case that only in the City of the Perpetually Offended (Madison) would a notion that “Indians” is somehow demeaning would gain any traction.
I will admit that some of the logos used are stereotypical, in a cartoon-like fashion. The one used by the Cleveland Indians, for example.
But that’s just bad taste, which you may choose to define as offensive, but not cause to change the name of the mascot. They need a face-lift, not a name-change.
So long live the Hortonville Polar Bears, and the Mukwonago Indians, and all the rest of them. Including the Marquette Warriors.