In the midst of growing debate over whether to change the Turners Falls High School Indians mascot, many students leaving classes Friday for the weekend said they support keeping the mascot.
“I think people think that we’re dishonoring the Indians, but we’re really representing them in the most honorable way that we can,” said 18-year-old senior Michael Babcock, a member of the football team. “We’re proud to be the Indians.”
This is a situation which is unfolding in an educational institution: one of the places where we, as a society, seek to instill in the next generation the values and understandings that will serve the community well. We often express the desire that things will be better for our children than it may have been for us – we aspire to progress and improvement. This is a teaching moment.
“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
Nothing more needs to be added to that observation.
The argument that something should be allowed to persist because it already exists has got nothing to do with values, morality, merit, or validity. It is an empty argument, and a classic example of fallacious reasoning, which is not reasoning at all. Defenses of this sort land squarely under the category of red herrings, including argumentum ad populum, various appeals to emotion, and especially appeal to tradition (argumentum ad antiquitatem), among others.
And one more thing, while we’re “honoring Indians”… In order to honor another, one demonstrates respect in a manner that the subject party will appreciate, in a form that can be recognized as caring, within their understanding of the term. The best manner to “honor Indians” is to show respect to those Native Americans who are here now. A shared understanding among Native American peoples is that all generations are present now, in the circle of time. We are our ancestors and we are our grandchildren. We are all, actually, the same thing, in different forms. This is what honor looks like.