By Pooneil
#6685
Hi. Apologies in advance for making my first post a controversial one. :shifty:

I’m sure many of you are aware of the issue (particularly in America) of ‘Indian’ mascots in sports. I think it's becoming increasingly likely that this issue is something English rugby will need to address sooner or later – especially if rugby continues to expand into the USA.

In relation to our sport, it is quite simple: Exeter is the only professional rugby union team in the world that uses an extant ethnic minority, to which they have absolutely no cultural or hereditary connection, as a merchandising brand. If any other ethnic minority were used in any way similar to how the Exeter brand stereotypes ‘Indian’ culture, it would simply not be tolerated.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Exeter Rugby or their fans are setting out to disparage anyone. I’m not calling anyone out. I simply think we (the rugby community) need to have an open and informed discussion, to establish the facts of the matter and dispel the myths, before the issue is forced upon us.

The National Congress of American Indians launched it’s campaign against ‘Indian’ mascots in 1968. And, in case previous decades of pressure, education and advocacy weren’t clear enough, they passed a resolution in 1993 to “condemn the racist and condescending attitude of team owners, colleges and high schools, which continue to demean the members of our Nations” and called upon “all reasonable individuals in decision-making positions to voluntarily change racist and dehumanizing mascots.” This campaign, to “oppose the use of racist and demeaning ‘Indian’ sports mascots”, is still very much a current concern.

I’m certain there was no ill intent when Exeter adopted their current ‘Indian’ brand in 1999, but it seems clear that, at best, they didn’t think to consult the people whose culture they were appropriating. Indeed, it seems likely they simply didn’t even consider, at the time, that there were actual people behind the stereotype. This is the dehumanizing effect of racial stereotypes: people become objects.

The fact that Exeter didn’t consider the autonomy of the culture they were appropriating at the time does not mean we should ignore the issue now.

Arguments in defence of ‘Indian’ mascots have become increasingly untenable. In America two-thirds of ‘Indian’ sports brands have been retired during the past 35 years. The sooner Exeter voluntarily embraces that trend the better; I believe a proactive change would only be a good thing for Exeter rugby club, as well as a positive statement on rugby values in general.

I believe this is a subject that the rugby community needs to discuss in the open. It is as much of a rugby related topic as anything else that happens on our terraces. If the issue was homophobia, we would be discussing it; if it was sexism, we would be discussing it; if it were any other form of racial stereotyping, we would be discussing it.

The three main questions for me are:
1. Are Exeter Rugby Club using and perpetuating a stereotype of an ethnic minority?
2. If yes, is that stereotype harmful and are that ethnic minority aggrieved by the use of that stereotype?
3. If yes, is this something we should accept in our sport?
The answer to the first two questions appears to be a very clear ‘yes’ – but I’m open to persuasion otherwise. I’d like to hear what other people think about question three.

.
By Peter D
#6688
You make a good point.

Exeter have always argued that the title "Chiefs" has nothing to do with native American culture. The tradition in Devon was, apparently, to style the first XV as "Chiefs." I've no doubt that that is true. However, they have over the years clearly appropriated elements of native American culture - the headdress, the "Red Indian Chief" in their logo and the chanting of the Tomahawk Chop - all of which the native Americans find offensive and disrespectful to their culture. This makes the "nothing to do with native American culture" argument a bit disingenuous.

I'm sure that, as you say, no disrespect is intended by Exeter but times have changed from the time of my youth when cowboys and Indians was a favourite game and the Hollywood view of Red Indians prevailed in which native Americans were either the "baddies" or a subjugated, servant society.

One might, of course, put a similar argument forward about the use of the crescent moon and star symbols, and the name of the club, with Saracens. The issues, I think, are somewhat different.

There are good reasons to have a discussion about the appropriateness of such cultural appropriation.
Pooneil liked this
By Pooneil
#6699
Hi, Peter.
I agree, the Chiefs moniker in a general sense may not in itself be problematic – although considering it apparently gained popular usage in exactly the same era as many of the worst and most entrenched ‘Indian’ brands in America were established, I’d be surprised if there were no ‘Indian’ connection even then.

That said, it is possible to argue that ‘chief’ is a generic nickname. But that defence is meaningless as long as all the other stuff that was added to the brand in 1999 remains.

Personally, I don’t see a comparison with Saracens. There is no distinct ethnic group of ‘Saracens’, extant now or even, in any meaningful sense, historically. The name was loosely applied to describe a political or cultural ‘Them’, in the same way as ‘Crusaders’ doesn’t realistically apply to ‘Us’.

Depending on context, it might be argued that linking a sports brand to a particular historical event is insensitive, but apart from the fact that no one has the right to never being offended, historical events and even labels – and I assume it goes without say, animals, insects etc. – are a ‘something’.

Mascots are a something. A human being is a someone.

.
By Peter D
#6708
I agree about the Saracens name, although it still carries significance in the Middle East (as does Crusaders) and the Crusades are still held up by some as evidence of Western oppression (remote as that might seem to us).

The Crescent moon and star though remains a potent symbol for Islam, featuring as it does on the flags and emblems of many Islamic states and flying on many mosques.
User avatar
By patgadd
#6718
I can claim a little bit of knowledge about Native Americans, or at least those who lived on the plains; I can't claim to speak for them of course. Pooneil says correctly that here is no distinct ethnic group of Saracens, but many would claim that the Apache and the Eskimos (please don't insult the latter by calling them Inuits) are separate nations just as the Saracens were. It's worthy of debate, but for me the Indians, having been brutally mistreated and almost obliterated in the past, are honoured by being remembered, even in such a silly way.
By Pooneil
#6730
Peter.
To clarify, my point was that there is no autonomous extant ethnic group, as far as I’m aware, that identifies as ‘Saracens’. There has never been a separate nation or ethnic group of ‘Saracens’. I confess I don’t know what the situation, or implications, of the Crescent moon and star are. I’m not aware of any autonomous group has any objection to it’s use.
By Pooneil
#6732
Patgadd, you are correct that there are many separate Nations under the ethnic group umbrella of Native American Indians. The first link in the OP describes 566 federally recognized tribes, all of which are sovereign nations, representing over 5.2 million American Indian or Alaska Native people, which is close to 2 percent of the US population (as of 2010 Census). The reality of this diversity is one of the objections to the use of homogenised ‘Indian’ stereotypes.

Apart from a couple of exceptions, there is an overwhelming consensus among the people of these nations against, in the words of the NCAI, “derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people”.
It's worthy of debate, but for me the Indians, having been brutally mistreated and almost obliterated in the past, are honoured by being remembered, even in such a silly way.
With respect, this is exactly the issue. It is not up to you, or me, or ‘us’, to decide how an extant ethnic minority should be ‘remembered’.

Native American Indians are mothers, teachers, postal workers, army veterans, gardeners, stamp collectors, students… they come from a diverse range of distinct cultures, some are active in their communities and some are not, they live on reservations, and in cities, and in other countries. They are people, just like you or I. They don’t want to be ‘remembered’ as archaic characters from 1950’s cowboy movies. They want to be treated with the same dignity and respect as the rest of us expect and demand.

Again, in the NCAI’s own words, “rather than honouring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”. This has been their position for over 50 years, regardless of how well intentioned any cultural appropriation might be.

What may seem silly to us has real life consequences of the people being stereotyped. For example, in 2005, based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping, the American Psychological Association called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols and images.
By SimonG
#6763
Pooneil wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 12:40 pm
Hi. Apologies in advance for making my first post a controversial one. :shifty:

I’m sure many of you are aware of the issue (particularly in America) of ‘Indian’ mascots in sports. I think it's becoming increasingly likely that this issue is something English rugby will need to address sooner or later – especially if rugby continues to expand into the USA.

In relation to our sport, it is quite simple: Exeter is the only professional rugby union team in the world that uses an extant ethnic minority, to which they have absolutely no cultural or hereditary connection, as a merchandising brand. If any other ethnic minority were used in any way similar to how the Exeter brand stereotypes ‘Indian’ culture, it would simply not be tolerated.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting Exeter Rugby or their fans are setting out to disparage anyone. I’m not calling anyone out. I simply think we (the rugby community) need to have an open and informed discussion, to establish the facts of the matter and dispel the myths, before the issue is forced upon us.

The National Congress of American Indians launched it’s campaign against ‘Indian’ mascots in 1968. And, in case previous decades of pressure, education and advocacy weren’t clear enough, they passed a resolution in 1993 to “condemn the racist and condescending attitude of team owners, colleges and high schools, which continue to demean the members of our Nations” and called upon “all reasonable individuals in decision-making positions to voluntarily change racist and dehumanizing mascots.” This campaign, to “oppose the use of racist and demeaning ‘Indian’ sports mascots”, is still very much a current concern.

I’m certain there was no ill intent when Exeter adopted their current ‘Indian’ brand in 1999, but it seems clear that, at best, they didn’t think to consult the people whose culture they were appropriating. Indeed, it seems likely they simply didn’t even consider, at the time, that there were actual people behind the stereotype. This is the dehumanizing effect of racial stereotypes: people become objects.

The fact that Exeter didn’t consider the autonomy of the culture they were appropriating at the time does not mean we should ignore the issue now.

Arguments in defence of ‘Indian’ mascots have become increasingly untenable. In America two-thirds of ‘Indian’ sports brands have been retired during the past 35 years. The sooner Exeter voluntarily embraces that trend the better; I believe a proactive change would only be a good thing for Exeter rugby club, as well as a positive statement on rugby values in general.

I believe this is a subject that the rugby community needs to discuss in the open. It is as much of a rugby related topic as anything else that happens on our terraces. If the issue was homophobia, we would be discussing it; if it was sexism, we would be discussing it; if it were any other form of racial stereotyping, we would be discussing it.

The three main questions for me are:
1. Are Exeter Rugby Club using and perpetuating a stereotype of an ethnic minority?
2. If yes, is that stereotype harmful and are that ethnic minority aggrieved by the use of that stereotype?
3. If yes, is this something we should accept in our sport?
The answer to the first two questions appears to be a very clear ‘yes’ – but I’m open to persuasion otherwise. I’d like to hear what other people think about question three.

.


You seem to be posting this all over the place. Have you directed your concerns to the club themselves?
By Pooneil
#6776
All over the place?

After a couple of recent commentary references to 'scalping', I had a look around some rugby forums to see if anyone else was discussing this subject. I added a couple of posts to a thread on the Leicester (Rugby Network?) forum that touched on the subject, but couldn't find much else. I then thought it would make sense to start a specific thread on the Exeter forum, to see if there was any reasonable defence for keeping the brand. Before I could respond to the one post that wasn’t an ad hominem attack, the moderator called me a sad c*nt and deleted the thread… they really do not want to talk about it there. :lol

So I started it here.

Yes, I’ve contacted the club a couple of times, but they’ve never responded. As far as I know they’ve always declined to comment whenever it’s come up in the media as well, so I didn’t really expect a reply.
They can't possibly be unaware that their brand might be 'problematic'. Maybe they are in contact with the NCAI, or independently looking at options. Maybe they are just ignoring it because they assume (possibly rightly) that it's not likely to ever be a big issue in the UK. I think that would be a shame; as the saying goes, integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. :thinking:

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By ale shark
#6781
I wouldn't worry about it Pooneil. There’ll soon be a tipping point, a critical mass of self-appointed paragons of virtue, people who have no interest in Exeter Rugby Club, the City of Exeter and the sport of Rugby Union, people who have zero links to the culture that they fight so valiantly for. They’ll take their fight for justice to Twitter and take up arms against the club.

The club will ignore them so they’ll turn they attentions to the club’s sponsors. The board of said sponsors will get a sniff of this mass outrage and ill feeling towards themselves through their association with the club and threaten to withdraw their sponsorship. This outrage will have come from well-meaning folks who had previously never spent a penny on the products supplied by the sponsors and have probably never even heard of them. The club will relent and, for the good of mankind, justice will ultimately be served. The mob will move onto their next worthy cause.

Soon the world will be a sterile waste ground, devoid of anything or anyone of remote interest. In this utopia we’ll live on pills and water. Until then, you can probably go and live in North Korea, I’m sure they’ll take you in.

Have a lovely Christmas. Be careful not to appropriate anything for your own enjoyment.
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User avatar
By patgadd
#6800
Trouble is, you're both right. You have to be sensitive to the feelings of those whose ancestors have suffered, but on the other hand people who take offence on behalf of others can be pretty annoying. I've got a sore *rse from sitting on this particular fence.
By SimonG
#6803
An excellent response ale shark. Now if you will forgive me I have to run as I need to write to Queens Park Rangers complaining that their name is an insult to the gay community.
By Pooneil
#6828
ale shark wrote:I wouldn't worry about it Pooneil. There’ll soon be a tipping point, a critical mass of self-appointed paragons of virtue, people who have no interest in Exeter Rugby Club, the City of Exeter and the sport of Rugby Union, people who have zero links to the culture that they fight so valiantly for. They’ll take their fight for justice to Twitter and take up arms against the club.
Can you clarify for me; are you saying that Exeter’s ‘Indian’ brand does not stereotype an extant ethnic minority? And / or that that ethnic minority is not aggrieved? Or are you saying that the stereotyping of an ethnic minority, for financial gain, is something we should accept?
ale shark wrote:Soon the world will be a sterile waste ground, devoid of anything or anyone of remote interest. In this utopia we’ll live on pills and water. Until then, you can probably go and live in North Korea, I’m sure they’ll take you in.
Although I don’t personally understand why anyone would want or get 'enjoyment' from promoting any negative racial stereotype, I actually strongly defend any individual’s right to do so. Everyone has a right to freedom of expression, and no one has a right to never being offended – if that were not the case we would have a ridiculous situation... much like the silly North Korean pills and water Strawman argument you tried to attribute to me. :shame:

We all have the freedom to express our ideas and opinions without censorship, but with that freedom comes an implied responsibility. You have the right to walk down Exeter high street screaming racial slurs at the top of your voice. But you also have the responsibility to accept the fact that exercising your ‘rights’ has an impact on the rest of society, and you also have a responsibility to accept the societal consequences.

A businesses, club, organization, etc. promoting a racial stereotype for financial gain is completely different.
ale shark wrote:...people who have zero links to the culture that they fight so valiantly for.
Following this reasoning would suggest no one has any right defending the civil rights of anyone that isn’t ‘like Me’. Substitute ‘Indian’ for any other marginalised or minority group – be it race, gender, disability, etc. – and you should be able to see what a flawed line of reasoning this is.

Also I can’t ignore the irony of you (personally) valiantly fighting on behalf of people who choose to negatively stereotype a culture to which they have zero links to. :doh:

.
Last edited by Pooneil on Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By Pooneil
#6831
SimonG wrote:An excellent response ale shark. Now if you will forgive me I have to run as I need to write to Queens Park Rangers complaining that their name is an insult to the gay community.
Have you read anything I have written?

Queens Park Rangers is not a reference to homosexuality.
Queens Park Rangers are not promoting a negative stereotype of homosexuality for financial gain.
There are no relevant advocacy groups objecting to the stereotype (that Queens Park Rangers are not even promoting)
I've explained that historical events, names, labels, animals, insects AND mascots are a ‘something’.
I've explained that a human being is a someone, and not a something
Etc.
Etc.

I realise you are poking in jest, but strawmen, ad hominem and general obfuscation makes reasonable discussion difficult and unpleasant. I’m open to opposing opinions, if they are relevant to the discussion.

.
By ale shark
#6832
Pooneil wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:32 pm

Can you clarify for me; are you saying that Exeter’s ‘Indian’ brand does not stereotype an extant ethnic minority? And / or that that ethnic minority is not aggrieved? Or are you saying that the stereotyping of an ethnic minority, for financial gain, is something we should accept?

.....

Also I can’t ignore the irony of you (personally) valiantly fighting on behalf of people who choose to negatively stereotype a culture to which they have zero links to. :doh:

.


I've got nothing to clarify because frankly I couldn't care less, I'm certainly not fighting on behalf of people who choose to negatively stereotype a culture, far from it. Exeter can do what they want. If it became no longer commercially viable for them then I'm sure they’d explore other options. In the meantime, they’re one of the best supported clubs in the country and one of the only ones who make a profit.

Looking forward to welcoming them up to Salford tomorrow. First time AJ Bell has sold out. Maybe there's an army of disgruntled Apaches who are turning up to protest, maybe not.
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By SimonG
#6833
Pooneil wrote:
Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:39 pm
SimonG wrote:An excellent response ale shark. Now if you will forgive me I have to run as I need to write to Queens Park Rangers complaining that their name is an insult to the gay community.
Have you read anything I have written?

Queens Park Rangers is not a reference to homosexuality.
Queens Park Rangers are not promoting a negative stereotype of homosexuality for financial gain.
There are no relevant advocacy groups objecting to the stereotype (that Queens Park Rangers are not even promoting)
I've explained that historical events, names, labels, animals, insects AND mascots are a ‘something’.
I've explained that a human being is a someone, and not a something
Etc.
Etc.

I realise you are poking in jest, but strawmen, ad hominem and general obfuscation makes reasonable discussion difficult and unpleasant. I’m open to opposing opinions, if they are relevant to the discussion.

.
Yes I have read what you have written. Endlessly and on several different sites.

I'll leave the name calling to you.

I wonder how many native Americans have complained to Exeter?
AndaleManito liked this
By Pooneil
#6984
SimonG wrote:I wonder how many native Americans have complained to Exeter?
I already wrote:The first link in the OP describes 566 federally recognized tribes, all of which are sovereign nations, representing over 5.2 million American Indian or Alaska Native people, which is close to 2 percent of the US population (as of 2010 Census).
and wrote:Apart from a couple of exceptions, there is an overwhelming consensus among the people of these nations against, in the words of the National Congress of American Indians, “derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people”.

The National Congress of American Indians, in line with the overwhelming consensus among American Indian Nations, advocacy groups and individuals, have unambiguously called for “all reasonable individuals in decision-making positions to voluntarily change racist and dehumanizing mascots.”

I see absolutely no reason why ““all reasonable individuals...” wouldn't, or shouldn’t, apply to Exeter Rugby club. Exeter Rugby can't possibly be unaware of this issue. Why should a specific ‘complaint’ to Exeter Rugby even be necessary?

Besides that, it’s actually irrelevant ‘who’ is ‘complaining’ anyway; do you have a specific number for how many “native Americans” qualifies, in your mind, as a valid complaint? If the complainants have a multiracial heritage, for example half-American Indian, would you need twice as many? :thinking:
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