Pitchforks also out for Chief Illiniwek

Updated 4/24/2018 11:07 AM

Karl Rove's April 5 Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "The Pitchforks Are Out For McKinley" exposes the harm being done in Arcata, California, via labeling and false narratives. Here's a salient example of harm that has already been done right here in Illinois.

Chief Illiniwek was conceived in 1926 as a sacred symbol of the University of Illinois -- representing the heroic spirit of Illinois Indians. Chief Illiniwek was never considered to be a mascot by the chief's creator, the late Raymond Dvorak, or by the 36 outstanding Illini students who were honored to be selected to portray the chief,


Nevertheless, false narratives labeling the chief as a mascot surfaced in recent years.. Unfortunately, such labeling led to the chief's official banishment by the university in 2007.

The chief's banishment was aided and abetted by the NCAA that abused its power while serving its own self-interest by diverting attention away from heightened concerns over its exploitation of minority college athletes, by a divisive mischaracterization of Chief Illiniwek as a mascot in a one-sided documentary and by the related July 17, 2017, Huffington Post piece, "Twenty Years of Fighting Native American Mascots with "In Whose Honor?""

Chris Quintana's March 30, 2018, column in The Chronicle of Higher Education is representative of continuing chief-as-mascot propaganda, The column's title and subtitle set the stage for an unbalanced mascot-label-rich narrative, to wit: "The Mascot is Fiction, The War is Real." and "Why a made-up retired mascot still inspires pain and pride at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,"

Paraphrasing Rove, the anti-Chief Illiniwek rhetoric has been so unbalanced and warped that only willful ignorance and runaway political correctness explains their destructive action.

Frank G. Splitt

Mount Prospect

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