Sunday Extra: Let's embrace Gondo Nation

Sunday Extra: Let's embrace Gondo Nation

By LYNN McLINDEN

So long as Chief Illiniwek refuses to die within the hearts of Illini Nation, the War Against "the Chief" will continue.

Indeed, the issue smolders on despite repeated efforts by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to rid itself of this tar baby. These efforts have included banishing Chief Illiniwek, thus acceding to the request of the NCAA and bowing to the gentle entreaties of some in Illini country.

Moreover, since "Illini," as in "the Fighting Illini" and "Illini Nation," stands for members of the Illinois Confederation, a group of Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River Valley, it too is destined for eventual relentless assault.

To help resolve this festering problem, permit me to humbly propose a new mascot, emblem and image for the university, a three-in-one, if you will. Wait for it (drum roll, please) — Giorgio and the Boneyard Gondoliers!

Of course, Gondo Nation and "Go, Gondos!" then become naturals.

You're probably thinking, "That's crazy!" But consider: "Boneyard" honors "the Boneyard," that beloved creek running through Champaign-Urbana, which conjures up the campus of our world-renowned UI at Urbana-Champaign.

"Gondoliers" has the virtue of not disrespecting any flora or fauna, nor any politically protected class of hominids. In fact, the Italians and Venice will doubtless be pleased, as it will promote tourism for them by wealthy Illinoisans who can longingly look forward to a pilgrimage to that lovely and beautiful city of romance and dreams.

Since it is desirable to have a mascot representing the Boneyard Gondoliers, I suggest "Giorgio," a mellifluous name for which, to my knowledge, there exists no derogatory, pejorative or defamatory connotation. With Giorgio a new tradition could emerge: choosing each year a student worthy of personifying the lofty ideals of "the Boneyard Gondolier." Of course, selection of this student honoree could rotate among the various genders, with "Giorgina" and "Giorgyx" serving as well.

New cheers and chants abound, and one can imagine a halftime routine with Giorgio gracefully wielding his long oar, symbolically poling us through the murky waters that lie ahead for Illinoisans.

This proposal offers cheerful whimsy to draw favorable attention to the university. Out with the old bellicose totem of troglodytic racism fighting prior centuries' wars! In with a new gentle anodyne mascot turned forward, facing brightly into the bracing winds of change and society's evolving standards and sensibilities!

Let us at a single stroke finally put to rest the tired, corrosive controversy surrounding the Chief, along with forestalling a future, inevitable War Against "the Illini," by embracing "Giorgio and the Boneyard Gondoliers" as the university's exciting new mascot, emblem and image.

Yes, let us finally leave behind all this tiresome, vexing, distracting "Chief" and "Illini" nonsense, piffle, flapdoodle and codswallop and, with gusto and a renewed spirit of confidence, pole our state's flagship, er, flag-gondola forward into the dawn of a great new era. We can make Illinois great again!

Happy new era, Gondo Nation! Go, Gondos!

Lynn McLinden lives in Danville

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Tom Napier wrote on January 07, 2018 at 8:01 pm

"Moreover, since 'lllini,' as in 'the Fighting Illini' and 'Illini Nation,' stands for members of the Illinois Confederation, a group of Native American tribes in the upper Mississippi River Valley ... "

The term Fighting Illini was applied to University of Illini students who fought in The Great War, 189 of whom did not return home. This identity preceded the Chief Illiniwek tradition by several years.

It is this type of misinformation that sustains much (if not most) of what Ms. McLinden called “the tired, corrosive controversy surrounding the Chief.” Sometimes, misinformation is attributable to simple lack of factual knowledge. Sometimes, it’s deliberate distortion to promote an agenda. Either way, such misinformation only serves as a wedge, not a device of unity.