Making right a wrong in Cleveland sports
Not a single option would have placated every person who called himself a fan of the Cleveland baseball franchise. For over a century, their team trudged across the U.S. with an image on its jerseys that demeaned a people.
Trying to massage reality could never erase that its nickname — Indians — had outlived its racist yesteryear, so the organization decided to find a more apt name to sow across a team jersey. They found one: “Guardians.”
The name is hardly perfect. Nor would any name have been. It was long ago time, however, to move forward and not remain stuck in what used to be. In some ways, moving on put a period on an era, something the nation should have done when it allowed the treasonous remnants of the Confederacy to thrive, providing misguided hope the South might rise afresh.
To compare renaming a storied sports franchise to a political movement might be an overreach. Both reflect the worst side of America, a side where not all its people can celebrate the good in this land. The melting pot that is this country was an amalgam of other white people, not of people with dark or brown skin.
The country looked right through those colored peoples. They were invisible, men and women not thrown into the pot and made part of this multiracial stew. They seemed not to have anything the mainstream wanted, aside from images they hijacked for their own purposes.
So we had those images thrust in front of us. They played out in cartoonish caricatures like Chief Wahoo, so demeaning of the indigenous that only the worst of men would lobby to save it.
Yet men did. Someone on Facebook called it “cancel culture” at work. He offered as a substitute for “Indians” the nickname “Liberals,” too ludicrous a notion to consider as to think it came with little thought behind it.
Rather, the suggestion was the idiotic ramblings of a sports fan who grew up in another era and never wanted that era to end.
He would, of course, not be alone. People find comfort in their past, a time when life did not have the baggage it does today. Nor did their yesteryears come with a 24/7 media cycle that keeps the drumbeat of craziness echoing across The Plains.
America is an amazingly beautiful country when it can work for the masses. It falls apart and ends in tatters when the thinking on the fringe gets a louder, shriller voice than it ought to.
The fringe has now had its say. They loathe the nickname “Guardians.” Many claim they will walk away from Cleveland baseball for relenting to those who found the old name abasing of a people and outright racist.
No one can be certain how people — white people here — saw the nickname in 1915, when it became tied to the franchise. Over time, fans grew more attached to it, even as opposition to the nickname mounted. Many of them rallied to keep that tradition, but why should tradition trump bigotry?
Tradition should not, which is why the Dolan family, the team’s owners, took it on and ditched the bigoted nickname.
To critics, think of this: Either cheer for the Guardians or give up altogether on Cleveland baseball.
“Indians” is gone with the wind.