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The Final Death Penalty for Chief Illiniwek

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Ravings of John C. A. Bambenek rocks your world.

How did a loud and vocal minority eventually find a path to victory in killing off Chief Illiniwek? Polls indicate 86% of Illinois resident support the Chief, an overwhelming majority of the alumni who give money to the University surely do, and every government agency every to rule on the issue says the Chief is not offensive. In the end, they won by getting to the people with power and making them impose their will. They get people without jobs to show up at rallies and be enraged and tell stories about how the Chief has destroyed their lives. And at the end of the day, the people who support the Chief will do little but complain when the minority finally carries out the death sentence ordered by the NCAA. Are the alumni going to stop giving the University money if the NCAA whacks the Chief? Will they stop going to games?

Let’s be realistic for a moment. If a team called their mascot the “racist, inbred, incestuous, redneck, cracker, mother f*cker Christians” it wouldn’t affect my life one bit. (In fact, it would be refreshing to see the honesty of people who actually believe that to come out and say it and stop pretending to be “tolerant”.) I’m sure they may be sincerely offended, but they have left no room for negotiation. They continue to say the Board has to deal with this issue when they really mean the Board has to get rid of the Chief. The Board has decided this issue repeatedly, just not in favor of the minority. Now the NCAA has come down to do it for them. Sure, they can keep the Chief; they just can’t play in tournaments and have to deal with the NCAA pressuring other schools not to schedule games against Illinois.

The rallying call for those anti-Chief people is “What if it was your religion?” I’m Catholic, let’s talk about how my religion is portrayed and dealt with in far more important things. How about the John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court with quarters of this country saying he should be excluded on the bases he is Catholic? Or how about the Rocco Buttiglione treatment out of the EU, where the entire EU government could not be installed because Buttiglione was a devout Catholic making him unfit for ANY OFFICE within the EU, including the Energy Ministry. We could also talk about the de facto policy that Chancellor Richard Herman took part in establishing that says even though there are speech codes non-discrimination policies on campus, those policies do not protect Christians and that complaints from Christians are to be discarded? It’s one thing to have an offensive mascot; it’s much more malicious to exclude an entire class of people from public life on the basis of their religious affiliation. However, the same crowd that fights against the Chief is silent or in support of shutting up and shutting out Christians.

I don’t really have strong opinions on the Chief issue, honestly. I find the complaints without merit, but if the Chief went away it wouldn’t matter. A Cherokee being upset about how the Illini are represented is ludicrous. They were different nations with different religions and practices 2 centuries ago and only naïve racist white men can’t tell the difference between Indian tribes. I don’t think the violent occupations of campus buildings should merit anything but immediate expulsions and prison sentences. In the end, this is just another instance of a loud and vocal minority who happens to get lots of media time imposing another facet of their theology on an unwilling population.

I have on my desk a quote from Stephen Balch, “Our colleges have become less marketplaces of ideas than churches in which you have to be a true believer to get a seat in the pews.” This is more proof he’s right.

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About John Doe

A political activist and security expert.
  • RJ

    When will we proud, drunken Micks rise up against the racist and stereotypical “Fighting Irish” of ND?

  • Um, when you stop reveling in the racial stereotype and trying as hard as possible to live up to it?

    BTW, is there a team out there called the Dour Scottsmen that I can root for?

    On the actual subject, I saw the report tonight on banning indian mascots from TV for NCAA basketball. It’s utterly ridiculous. I wish some team would tell them to go fuck themselves and refuse to play on TV without their mascot – not that it will ever happen.

    I find it particularly ironic that in the case of Illinois actual representatives of the tribe have said they don’t object at all, because – as they point out – these mascots generally portray POSITIVE stereotypes of their people.


  • RJ


    I was kidding, man… :-/

  • Jack

    I love the university of Illinois; I have received 4 degrees from this classy institution. I just want to focus the attention on the great accomplishment of the great University of Illinois these past few years. Does anyone know we’ve had 3 Nobel Prize Laureate since 2000?

    Instead, we kept getting dissed because of the idiotic Chief Issue, being on New York Times several times the past few years because of our mascot.

    For Pete’s sakes, chief supporters, you cannot possibly change the mind of the rest of the country. It’s clear that people outside of the UI community don’t like the chief. Our fellow Big Ten schools such as Iowa and Wisconsin has rules specifically prohibiting them from playing teams with racist mascots. So does Oregon, which will not allow us to bring the chief to the next Oregon-Illini basketball game. This is clearly NOT a result of a tiny vocal minority, but a nationwide issue.

    Have some perspective, support our University and be proud of its achievements on and OFF the field. Don’t get so emotionally attached to the white boy dancing around in feathers during some half-time ceremony. The reaction we get from Iowa, Wisconsin, Oregon, NCAA is is just plain embarrassing, and distract from the main objective of our school; to conduct groundbreaking research and educate students.

  • Bill

    My wife and I both graduated from the U of I and I don’t give a damn what the morons in Iowa or Wisconsin think.

    BTW DAve,
    Monmouth Illinois is the Fighting Scots

    I think that maybe its time for Illinois to take the Crusaders as the new mascot and paint a gigantic cross on the field. That way, we can p!ss off the secularists as well.

  • Mascots are extremely offensive only if their suits — usually the case — smell like shit.

  • It’s a national issue because a vocal minority also has power. The NCAA doesn’t speak for the voters of Illinois (and it isn’t clear who they speak for). Just because the Chancellor at Wisconsin has a problem, doesn’t make it a national issue.

    To be fair, when first asked, the descendants didn’t have a problem with it. Later, they voted without sending any comment or making any statement that UI should get rid of the Chief. I think it’s because of brow-beating by other tribes, but that’s speculation.

  • Absolutely, positively, completely, inanely ridiculous. But it is the times in which we live. It started when that ultimate bastion of Political Correctness, Stanford, changed to the “Cardinal” (not even pleural, which would make more sense). What is that exactly, a Pope-precursor? Think it is a pretty red bird? Nope. As I recall they now use these ridiculous-looking trees as mascots. What the nickname “Cardinal” has to do with a tree, I will never know, but it is Stanford.

    When the NCAA starts making changes, everyone interested in college sports should beware: bad things are inevitable.



  • MCH

    When is the white man going to quit telling the red man what he should be offended by, and what he shouldn’t be offended by?

  • There are credible claims of offense and not so credible ones. When a Sioux complains that Illini portrayals are offensive, it is not credible.


    When is the white man gonna start thinking of the red man with more thought than a those bunch of “injun” savages?

  • Jack

    I understand all your comments about the mascot not being offensive to you (who are most likely white). My point is that, nowadays, the chief seems to be bringing our university more controversies than its worth.

    Can’t we die-hard UI alums/supporters/students love our school for what it stands for, instead of what stands in the center court during a game? I agree all the PC crap seems pretty idiotic and trivial, but it is bringing shame upon our school. I just wish the Chief supporters show as much support to our university as the mascot.

    I’m guessing we’ll be allowed to keep our team name Fighting Illini (since it predates the mascot). All we need is to get rid of the indian head and the jumping white boy/girl in feather (just curious, has there ever been a non-white chief in the history of mascot?)

  • robert

    Comments on what the University should and shouldn’t do to take a middle ground on the mascot.
    The University should:
    1) Make a official break with the old mascot. Take the position that there is no officially sanctioned mascot. Eliminate all copyrights, licensing fees, royalties, etc on Illini and the image of the chief. If people want to create things with the old mascot, let them, but the University will not profit from it. This also means the University will not use the mascot or the Illini name in any marketing efforts.
    2) Change the official name to be only Illinois, and that will be the only team name appearing on uniforms, fields, courts, score boards, etc.
    3) Come up with an official sports logo and use it where the Indian logo might appear on uniforms, fields, etc.

    The University should not:
    1) force a politically correct mascot on fans
    2) allow fans to experience with the unofficial mascot on game days to be unchanged
    3) don’t dictate halftime show content, what cheers are acceptable, game day program content, what the game or pa announcers can say
    4) don’t dictate how the unofficial mascot can be used on merchandise

  • Jennifer

    I was a proud grad of UI and even more proud when they stood their ground against the protesters and wouldn’t change our name or mascot. Our university has shown that they value independent thinkers and not just people programmed to follow the masses (unlike many institutions of higher learning). I never thought of Chief Illiniwek as hostile or even insulting – students stand in the Chief’s presence, they respect the Chief, and the Chief was never treated with ridicule or distaste. The university should stand its ground so that its graduates can continue to take pride in our heritage and our independence. There are some things worth fighting for – that’s why I am and will ever be a proud “Fighting” Illini.

  • Jennifer

    One last comment – to realize the absurdity of changing our name from the “Illini” – then, why not advocate changing the name of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, the Chippewa Flowage, and if we really want to push it, we should no longer be the University of “Illinois” or the State of “Illinois.”

  • billy

    I personally think they should change their name to the new york ni__ers, and that not nickers folks.

  • JC

    “I am a proud daughter of the south and even more proud when they stood their ground against the protesters and wouldn’t change our flag. Our great state of South Carolina has shown that they value independent thinkers and not just people programmed to follow the masses (unlike many other states in the South). I never thought of the Confederate Flag as hostile or even insulting – citizens stand in the flag’s presence, they respect the Flag, and the Flag never represented slavery and bigotry. Our great state should stand its ground so that future generations can continue to take pride in our heritage and our independence. There are some things worth fighting for – that’s why I am and will ever be a proud Confederate.”

    – some South Carolina citizen back in the 1990s arguing to preserve the confederate symbol in the state flag.

  • I went to Illinois as an undergrad.

    There is so much ignorance and misinformation on this topic that I don’t know where to start. I’m not sure I even want to get into this, because there’s so, so much I can say.

    The debate about this topic always degenerates into the kind of ridiculous positions being taken here and it makes me frankly kind of sad. I don’t really know what to say to some of you nor do I think you’ll respond to discussion and reason on this topic. And it’s more than abstract for the people who are involved. It’s not just some topic of internet debate.

    I think I’ll leave it at that and say that the NCAA did right.

    That is all.

  • Dizzle

    Way to profoundly say nothing there Bob — if you are going to make an argumement in support of getting rid of the chief at the very least state your grounds.

  • KACI

    ok i am indian and i dnt rlly give a crap about any of it and i live in iowa thank you verymuch.;/