A Babson College professor penned an op-ed claiming that the Atlanta Braves fans performing the popular “Tomahawk Chop” chant is “violence” towards Native Americans ahead of MLB’s opening day.
In his Thursday editorial, Kevin Bruyneel, a professor of politics at the Massachusetts-based school, exclaimed that even naming a sports team after a Native American symbol or tribe “mocks” indigenous traditions,” celebrates “genocide,” and will also “trivialize violence toward Indigenous people and the theft of their land.”
While Bruyneel was pleased that the Cleveland Indians finally dumped their 107-year-old team name and will now be called the Cleveland Guardians, he was still furious that the Atlanta Braves have resisted the left’s demands to scrap their name too.
Ted Turner performing the Tomahawk Chop in 2003 (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
“The Braves organization has made no change to its team name or logo or made any serious effort to get their fans to stop performing ‘tomahawk chop’ gestures ― what they proudly call ‘The Chop’ ― and chants that echo throughout the stands, as they did during last year’s playoffs broadcast to millions of people,” the leftist prof wrote.
Bruyneel posed a question: “Why does this practice of naming teams after Indigenous people and mocking their traditions continue well into the 21st century, even in the face of direct criticism that they are racist and offensive?”
Naturally, the Critical Race Theory-pushing “educator” had an answer for that: It’s “racism,” naturally.
“A major reason is that, despite notable success in the effort to end this practice,” Bruyneel accused, “a good portion of the American public does not see Indigenous people as their contemporaries, as people who live in and around them. For many fans, there are not enough Indigenous people around to offend, and in fact, according to many fans and team owners, these names actually ‘honor’ Indigenous people.”
There you have it. If you like the Atlanta Braves, you are a racist.
Bruyneel explained that using native names as a way to “honor” them is still racist, no matter your stated intention because you are deadnaming Indians in the process.
When fans and owners say their team’s name honors Indigenous people, one could ask: Well, why not “honor” other racial or ethnic minorities to this same degree and extent? What makes Indigenous people so worthy? The answer is that the so-called honor here is meant for people deemed to no longer exist as relevant people, to be long since dead. Through this colonialist logic, “honoring” means Indigenous people are rendered as the ghosts of a primitive past, noble savages who could not survive the U.S. “manifest destiny” and its civilizational expansion, although they put up a good fight, like “braves” “warriors” and “chiefs” do
And it is “more than racist,” the lefty prof shrilly insists. It is about “genocide” because when you use the names, you are saying that you have killed all native peoples so that you could steal their symbols and names.
Former Braves player Bob Horner does the Tomahawk Chop. (Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
It is, he continues, because native people have been “consigned to the past,” and is a past, “of which are made legends in the form of cowboy-and-Indian movies and in naming teams after, well, Cowboys and Indians, or Redskins, or Braves, or Chiefs, or fill in the blank of the name of your local team, or consumer product, or town, city or state.”
Using Native names, Bruyneel continues, means that “Indigenous people’s lives today are not relevant.”
Bruyneel goes on to assert:
It is certainly true that these names and images are offensive and denigrating, but there is a reason why they are primarily targeted at Indigenous people and not as much at other groups who experience racism in the United States. These names are popular because they are premised on the elimination, the nonexistence, of Indigenous people. They reinforce a genocidal logic and in their own way celebrate, under the banner of “honoring,” colonial conquest and violence toward Indigenous people and the theft of their land. In this regard, consider the historical context of the creation of these two MLB names, one triumphant, the other defunct.
“It is important,” Bruyneel added, “to put this practice into historical context to understand that names such as the Braves are not just offensive; they are steeped in the blood of genocide and land theft of U.S. colonization that is not consigned to the past; it shapes and continues to the present.”
Of course, the idea that enjoying the Atlanta Braves means you discount the lives of modern native people is a leap in logic that makes no sense. People are certainly smart enough to enjoy their baseball team without automatically hating, discounting, ignoring, or devaluing their fellow Americans who happen to be of indigenous heritage.
Bruyneel concludes by praising the growing political influence that Native tribes are having across the country but insists that sports teams, such as the Braves, that are named after and use Native imagery make it harder for white people to take Native political movements seriously.
But Bruyneel rambles on, nonetheless.
“If you cannot see a people for who they are right now, how can you stand with them and take their claims seriously?” Bruyneel wrote. “These team names and representations honor genocide by another name and help blind us to the reality and complexity of contemporary Indigenous people’s lives and politics.”
The leftist prof concludes by urging white to “step up to the plate” and demand that all sports teams everywhere end the use of Native imagery in order not to “drown out the calls by Indigenous people for justice today.”
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