Whitman explains 'war chant' decision in open letter

Whitman explains 'war chant' decision in open letter

CHAMPAIGN — University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman released an open letter Monday afternoon defending the decision to end the "war chant" at all athletic events.

UI students were first informed of the decision at Thursday’s Illini soccer match, when an athletics official told a group who were playing it to stop.

The full text of the letter is below.

* * * * *

Open Letter from Athletics Director Josh Whitman

Aug. 28, 2017

To my friends and fellow Illini:

I am one of you.  To my pleasant surprise, this fact has resonated with our fans and alumni more than anything else in my early tenure as your athletics director.  I know because you have told me so, in countless conversations at games and events all across this country.  Truth be told, few facts bring me more pride.  Over the last 20 years, I have earned my orange and blue stripes honestly.  Forty-five football games as a player, with all the blood, sweat, and tears they required.  Two degrees, including one each from our highly acclaimed Colleges of Business and Law.  And two tours of duty as a staff member for our Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, first as a young, aspiring administrator and now as his older, balder counterpart.

Because I am one of you, on a personal level, I share part of your sadness with our recent decision to discontinue playing War Chant at our athletic events.  Like many of you, I have fond memories of watching Chief Illiniwek perform, and War Chant was, to a large degree, the soundtrack of my football career.  For me, both events evoked feelings of pride, unity, and confidence.  As a younger man, I assumed the thousands of people around me experienced similar emotions — and, in fact, I think many did.

Today, I understand that my emotions were not shared by many connected to our University.  And as I have spent more time around these issues, my feelings have evolved.  For some, Fighting Illini Athletics has been a source of division, not unity.  Segments of our University have felt unwelcome at our athletic events.  Regardless of whether you agree with these sentiments, at a minimum, we must acknowledge that these feelings matter.  How we make people feel matters here at the University of Illinois, where we strive to be a beacon for inclusion in an increasingly polarized world.

As many of you have heard me say, I am a “true believer” in the power of our athletic program.  I believe, unabashedly, that we have the power to bring people together at a time when our society struggles to come together about virtually anything else.  The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics sees this as one of its overarching purposes, which we have memorialized in a new mission statement: Unify. Develop. Inspire. Achieve.  We have worked extensively on this mission statement over the last 12 months, trying to distill, into the simplest terms possible, our reason for being.  “Unify” appears first on the list for a reason.  Our athletic program must use the platform we have to be a catalyst for bringing our University community together.

All of these factors culminated this spring, when the Chancellor’s Office, the Marching Illini, and DIA decided collectively to discontinue War Chant.  For me personally, and for our University at large, it would have been far easier to maintain the status quo.  But leading is not always about doing what is easy.

I am one of you.  And because I am one of you, I know that we are much bigger than a drumbeat.  There is much more to us than that, including many other timeless traditions worth protecting.  For generations, the University of Illinois has brought us together.  It has helped shape our relationships, our careers, and our views on the world.  All of that remains as true today as it has ever been.

What I have come to realize is that those feelings we have enjoyed at our events — pride, unity, and confidence — will live indefinitely, independent of traditions past and present, stirred anew each year by the changing leaves, the strains of the Marching Illini, and the inspiring performances of our Fighting Illini student-athletes.  It is our hope that this decision, at this moment, serves as a significant step toward a more unified University of Illinois, where more people have the opportunity to experience the positive emotions that should accompany a seat inside Memorial Stadium, State Farm Center, or Huff Hall.

I have never been more confident in the successful future of our Fighting Illini athletic program.  Our journey is underway, and there is no limit to what we can accomplish on the path ahead.  But we must continue our march up the mountain together.  Only together can we realize the full potential of a world-class University matched with an elite intercollegiate athletic program.  And only together can we achieve the success that we so passionately pursue.

Fighting Illini Forever,

Josh Whitman
Director of Athletics

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cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on August 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm



If during your tenure you want to see what rock bottom attendance at the FB games are, stand by.  I am guessing that Unity/St Joe will garner more fans that UI/NW in November.



GLG wrote on August 28, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Thats why they scrapped the stadium renovation! They knew this was coming! 

Why spend a hundred million dollars for a place that hasn't been more than half full  

for a long time. Before long it will be 1970 all over again buy a ticket for a dollar

set anywhere you want!!   Get a program that people will come and see not some 

bunch that should be in Div II or III.  If these players fought as hard on the field as

they do off they might have something!

CallSaul wrote on August 28, 2017 at 6:08 pm


So the bitter ender supporters of the racist old chicken feather 'chief' mascot have been triggered again...

What else is new? Those tender little snowflakes have been constantly triggered for the last 30 years.

They really need to retreat to their basement safespaces plastered with tacky racist 'chief' images and tchotchkes from the 70s and 80s before the 'respectful' image of the mascot was introduced.

Just like other shameful racist vestiges of our past, e.g. Aunt Jemimah, Sambo, minstrel shows and statues to slavery defending treasonous losers, the racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot is wherer it belongs: the trash can.

The fake hollywood 'war chant' is now there too.


Let the supporters of the racist old mascot shriek and holler. Let them threaten to withhold their vast fortunes from the school they profess to love so much that they will threaten to abandon over an old racist mascot and badly faked Indian music.

If they're so fickle, they never had any real attachment to the school and they're no great loss to anyone...

GLG wrote on August 28, 2017 at 8:08 pm

You forgot "Amos n Andy"!!

Tom Napier wrote on August 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

“… badly faked Indian music.”

Then what is “good” Indian music? Can you describe how the “war chant” mimics or otherwise suggests Native Americans from a music context (“Indians” as you call them)? Does it come from Native music or ritual? How is it used; Spiritual? Secular? Can you define what, if any, musical elements of the “war chant” are appropriated from Native American music or ritual?

May I suggest you consult the Spirit vs. Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven court case as an example of deciding music ownership or plagiarism.

Absence of such evidence would suggest this “Indian music” may not be “Indian music” afterall. 

Oh yeah, it's Eagle Feathers, not chicken feathers.  But you know that already.

CallSaul wrote on August 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

No. The old racist mascot's headdress was made of chicken feathers...

You've been trying that ham handed disingenuous 'I demand you explain to my satisfaction why it's racist' tactic for decades --- do you actually believe it makes you seem clever?

Of course, it didn't save the racist old chicken feather 'chief' mascot and it's not going to save the Hollywood fake Indian 'war chant' music either.

It seems you're afraid to stand by your earlier claims that the horribly racist and offensive Aunt Jemimah stereotype isn't actually racist but is in fact very respectful...

Just like you claim the old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot wasn't racist but was in fact very respectful, huh...?

Illiniwek222 wrote on August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

Saul, remember...what you have is palilalia, non-verbal. Treatment is available. Seek it.

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 7:09 pm

"You've been trying that ham handed disingenuous 'I demand you explain to my satisfaction why it's racist' tactic for decades --- do you actually believe it makes you seem clever?

I've never demanded, only requested as an honest question.  And, it'not to my satisfaction, it's to yours.  Never got an answer.

Actually it's only been a couple of years.  Time must be passing awfully slowly for you.  

What I actually believe is that you are incapable of articulating an honest, objective, rational, non -circular opinion. 

CallSaul wrote on September 02, 2017 at 12:09 pm

So now you're claiming you've only been schrieking and whining about the old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot 'for a couple of years'?


Well, it certainly is said that people who lie all the time eventually lose all sense of what's true and what's just another of their lies...

Just like your clearly false claim that the racism of the chicken feather 'chief' mascot has not been adequately explained to you. No one approaching the discussion in good faith would make such a ludicrous claim...

How about this, to the best of your ability, please articulate your understanding of the position of those who say the moldy old mascot is racist.

You don't even have to defend you previous claim that you don't see anything the least bit racist in what all decent people recognize is the incredibly racist Aunt Jemimah stereotype...

annabellissimo wrote on August 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm

While I don't agree with many of your premises, I think you do raise a question that should be part of the discussion: what exactly does it mean to be "loyal to your school," (the opposite of your "fickle" comment)? What does a college mean to people who get very emotional about symbols and music and school colors and the whole panoply of all things "my school?" Is it sports teams? Is it the associations with notions of history? Is it academic status? What is it? I was once banned forever from a local sports forum because from time to time I would raise the point of the University of Illinois' historical academic and scholarly status, the number of Nobel prizes, Pulitzer prizes and other honors and achievements associated with the University. During the Salaita incident, there seemed to be a real ongoing conflict between science/technology/engineering and the liberal arts and their real or perceived positions of power and influence and significance on campus. Why? What exactly does the University of Illinois mean to people? I see all kinds of people wearing Illinois sweatshirts or other garb, but they are not students, alums or family of same. Is that loyalty? It seems to me that Josh Whitman embodies Illinois loyalty so I do not see how that can be in question. What is not fully explained ever is why Chief Illiniwek is considered racist and by whom and who says and why those views take precedence over those who dispute them? Why is this drum music considered - what? - racist? offensive? To whom, why, who says? Personally I do not like that particular "war chant" because I think it is plodding and droning and drags down any momentum or energy in a game, but I do not see it as "racist." What makes music racist anyway? Has anybody here actually ever been to an Indian Pow-Wow? (And yes, Native Americans do call them Indian Pow-Wows.) If you go, you will see Indians dressed in costumes (they are costumes because they are not contemporary dress, just as a white American putting on a Revolutionary War uniform would be in costume, and in case you haven't noticed, contemporary Indians dress just like anybody else in America dresses, not in fringed buckskins or beaded moccasins). Those costumes are remarkably the same among the participating members, regardless of what tribal heritage they represent. They are rarely dressed in "authentic" outfits, historically researched and authentically replicated. There are many Pow-Wow gatherings held throughout the Midwest and all over the country and anyone can attend. So, what exactly was "racist" about Chief Illiniwek? The costume? The dance? That he was not actually Indian? I think it is the confusing conflation of ideas that has upset so many because to declare that Chief Illiniwek is racist is to say that "you" are racist because you enjoyed his presence at games. To call "you" racist when you didn't think you were or realize you were or would assert that you are not - without full debate and discussion, and explanation of the rationale beyond just declaring as non-sequitur: the Chief is racist because we say so; and now this music is racist because we say so is inflammatory and insulting to people just as real as Professor Kaufman or Nancy Cantor or CallSaul. Like it or lump it; we have spoken.... it disturbs those who feel they have as much say in things as the Kaufmans or the Cantors or anybody else, but they are ignored. It is long past time for an open forum debate - maybe book the Assembly Hall, take a number and wait your turn at the mic and have your say, everybody have your say. As for me, I don't like the "war chant" because I think it is deadening music when energy is needed.  I do not want a mascot because those are ridiculous and demeaning to a great institution. And why is the University of Illinois a great institution? Because great minds have worked and achieved there, in all fields - and even, sometimes, ON all fields.

CallSaul wrote on August 28, 2017 at 11:08 pm

The racism inherent in non Indians appropriating a mishmash of stereotypes and out of context cultural symbols as part of a halftime minstrel show has been explained and debated ad naseum for more than 30 years.

Your claim that the racism of the old racist mascot hasn't been adequately explained is simply false and lacking in the slightest credibility and as such, it appears you aren't trying to discuss this in good faith.

Instead, you turn this into yet another tired old story about people being unfairly maligned and even persecuted just because they refuse to let go of a racist old mascot whose racism has been explained multiple times and in multiple ways for a generation now.

There is no shortage of information on all sides of the controversy over the old racist mascot.

No one genuinely approaching the matter in good faith would claim the arguments for why the chicken feather 'chief' is racist have not been out in the open for all to see for more than three decades.

You're of course free to reject them but don't claim they haven't been offered...

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 6:09 pm

"The racism inherent in non Indians appropriating a mishmash of stereotypes and out of context cultural symbols as part of a halftime minstrel show has been explained and debated ad naseum for more than 30 years."

According to your ... logic ... Michael Bloomfield should never have been allowed to play blues.  Nor Elvin Bishop (who appeared at Research Park concert a couple weeks ago), nor Paul Butterfield, nor Nick Gravenites, nor Harvey Mandel, nor Ron McKernan, nor anyone born outside the Mississippi Delta.  That would be appropriating a mishmash of stereotypes. Did you see Nick Moss at this year's Bluesfest in Chicago, or was that amazing performance just cultural appropriation out of context?   That Fiona Boyes is an award winning, legendary blues artist from ... AUSTRALIA ... must mean all Australians are racist, every last one of 'em, according to your ... logic.

According to your ... logic ... cultural isolation is better better for society than cultural sharing.  Think of it as you listen to the rap music blaring from the Memorial Stadium south scoreboard (you will be there Saturday, won't you?)  Please read Clarence Page's column on Cultural Sharing (Chicago Tribune, April 11, 2017).  I know you won't look it up yourself, so here's the URL:


CallSaul wrote on September 02, 2017 at 11:09 am

The fact that you have to resort to such absurd arguments should tell you something about the absurdity of your position.

I'm surprised you didn't bring up the chicken feather 'chief' clingers' supposed ace in the hole: Notre Dame.

But I see you're --- still! --- unwilling to support your previous ridiculous claim that the 'smiling and happy' Aunt Jemimah stereotype --- which all decent people recognize as being incredibly racist and offensive --- is in your considered opinion, not the least bit racist and is in fact a respectful and honorable representation.


Y'know, just like your ridiculous claim that the moldy old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot is 'respectful and honorable'...

You love the Aunt Jemimah stereotype, so of course you love the racist 'chief' stereotype too...

Tom Napier wrote on September 02, 2017 at 5:09 pm

I dont' see why you don't rant against White musicians playing Blues. 

The Blues evolved from African musical traditions, spiritual songs, African-American (slave) work songs, reflecting the condition of African American life in the South around the latter part of the 19th century.  And yet, WHITE musicians play Blues for, of all things, entertainment -- of other WHITE people.  Cultural Appropriation right under your nose and you'r not all ... offended? 

You hate Chief Illiniwek, so of course you hate Elvin Bishop.  You could have come to his concert at the UI Research Park last July, held a placard, and chanted "hey-hey, ho-ho.  White Blues musicians gotta go."  But you didn't.  Or maybe you did and I just didn't notice. 

Get it now?

Informing yourself of such matters would help. 




CallSaul wrote on September 02, 2017 at 5:09 pm

It's not surprising that the chicken feather 'chief' bitter clingers have been reduced to such ridiculous 'arguments.' After all, even they know deep down that they're defending an outright racist stereotype and have no choice but to fly off into ever more absurd and delusional flights of fancy to try to distract from that basic and undeniable fact.

At least you're not ranting about how next we'll have to change the name of the state...or at least not recently...

I and many others have explained many times how and why the chicken feather 'chief' is racist, as you're well aware. But you are reduced to making the false claim that you're totally ignorant of the reasons the old mascot was racist. While you can no doubt very credibly claim ignorance on many topics, the reasons the chicken feather 'chief' is racist is not one of them.

I note you continue to avoid saying whether or not you stand by your earlier claim that the 'happy smiling' Aunt Jemimah stereotype was not at all racist and was in fact very respectful and honorable.


Is that because you figured out all on your own that defending such a blatantly racist caricature was an incredibly stupid thing to do while trying to make the claim that the chicken feather 'chief' is also not racist?

Or did someone have to tell you to stop 'helping' the 'chief' clingers by making such an absurdly tone deaf claim...? 

cjw61822@hotmail.com wrote on August 28, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Hey Sollie


right after you blame POTUS for the Hurricane, what do you think of the theaters in Memphis banning Gone with the Wind............. you all good with that?
#We Will Win

Tom Napier wrote on August 28, 2017 at 7:08 pm

First, I could really care less whether the “war chant” is played at football games or not. This, in and of itself, is a non-issue.

We should, however, all be disturbed that a small cadre of activists persist on imposing a very, very limited and shallow dogma upon the University of Illinois. It’s not a Chief Illiniwek issue, it’s a thought-control issue. That small cadre will find some reason to attack the University of Illinois, their employer, for any cause-du-jour. Control of thought is dominant factor in this decision; not The Chief, not a drum beat, not Native American imagery, not respect of culture, and not third-down crowd response.

“For generations, the University of Illinois has brought us together.“ Indeed it did, at one time. While the Vietnam war created deep, deep divisions within the University community. Chief Illiniwek was about the only unifying force on campus during that difficult time.

“For some, Fighting Illini Athletics has been a source of division, not unity.” No. That very small cadre has leveraged Fighting Illini Athletics as a wedge, a source of division, not unity. Banning the War Chant in the name of “unity” has accomplished exactly the opposite. Whitman, the Chancellor, the President, the band, the DIA certainly know that. I don’t know what’s more disappointing; being so naive to not anticipate such a negative response, or damning the torpedoes and plowing ahead with this decision without regard to the majority’s sentiment.

“Segments of our University have felt unwelcome at our athletic events. Regardless of whether you agree with these sentiments, at a minimum, we must acknowledge that these feelings matter. How we make people feel matters here at the University of Illinois, where we strive to be a beacon for inclusion in an increasingly polarized world.”  Apparently, feelings of some are important, but importance is applied selectively, not universally. I thought inclusiveness means showing respect for conflicting opinions and seeking consensus on how to resolve differences to the benefit of all. Apparently not. Apparently, inclusiveness means capitulating to one opinion while simultaneously dismissing the other.

Whitman has repeatedly reassured us the Three-In-One will continue to be performed in its present form. I find zero credibility in this statement. The small cadre of activists remains in control of the University of Illinois. They’re on a roll. Why should they feel welcoming inclusiveness” toward anyone else?

CallSaul wrote on August 28, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Are you next going to continue your earlier ruminations about how the incredibly racist 'smiling and happy' Aunt Jemimah stereotype is actually very respectful and not racist at all...?


Y'know, just like how you believe the racist old chicken feather k'chief' mascot is very respectful and not at all racist...

Annotator wrote on August 29, 2017 at 9:08 am

Miserable try at deflection from the topic in discussion, Jay Rosenstein.  Yes, Call Saul is obviously the Department Affiliate, American Indian Studies, "professor" Rosenstein.  He has so much time in his "job" to troll the comments section and harass everyone who has a comment counter to his "sacred" snowflake opinions.

Illiniwek222 wrote on August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

You might be right. I always thought Saul was the troll/moderator at Smile Politely.

BruckJr wrote on August 28, 2017 at 8:08 pm

Whitman claims to be concerned with the game day experience of the fans yet he, and the other leftists on campus, are tearing that experience apart piece by piece.

myattitude wrote on August 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

His letter indicates the Chancellor's office was in on the decision but I thought the Chancellor denied this.

I agree this will divide the fan base rather than unify it. You can never make everyone happybut under political correctness you must try. The downfall of our universities.

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

This won't divide the fan base too much. Most chief lovers are stuck in the past, and if they are stuck in the 1950's and 1960's they won't be much of a voice before long. With them gone, the fans of today and tomorrow can enjoy the games, win or lose, without anachronistic whiners complaining about the good old days.

Illiniwek222 wrote on August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

Have you been to campus lately? Just as much Chief attire as 10 years ago, mayne more.

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 7:09 pm

The fans of today and tomorrow ... all 10,000 of them.

Take notice of how full the student section is Saturday.  You will be there, won't you?

byrdslover wrote on August 28, 2017 at 9:08 pm

Tom, I love how you credit this to the power of "thought control" by a few people.  Can't stop laughing.  Yes, I do exert the power of thought control whenever it's needed.  It is one of my super powers.  I'm able to overwhelm Josh Whitman -- 6 foot 4, 250 pounds -- with my thought control powers.
I think I'm going to target you next: watch out!

Tom Napier wrote on August 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Think of it this way. 

Donald Trump is hellbent on building a Southern Boarder wall and charging Mexico $15-25 Billion for it, despite approval by only 16% of Americans, and zero support from boarder states' congressional representatives.  But he's plowing ahead anyway, oblivious to -- no, aggressively antognistic -- to any opinions that don't align with his. 

Now, this is only an anology to illustrate policy and popular support for it -- or absense thereof.  Don't get all political on me. 

I've smelled smoke all weekend and thought it was being blown by Kent Brown and Josh Whitman.  But it must be you exercising thought control on me.


byrdslover wrote on August 28, 2017 at 11:08 pm

I'm afraid even my powerful thought control enabled mind doesn't quite grasp the point you are making with Trump.  is it that both Trump and Whitman are both doing something that is unpopular?

Not sure how the comparison works. Trump doesn't rule the United States. He can't just put walls wherever he wants.  Whitman, on the other hand, does indeed "rule" (not the best word choice, but I hope you follow) the athletic department.  He can pretty much do whatever he wants, within the autonomy granted by his boss.

Whitman doesn't need popular support to make policy.  Trump does (through the public's elected representatives).

But none of that matters since I control all of Whitman's thoughts.

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 11:09 am

“…my … mind doesn't quite grasp the point you are making with Trump. is it that both Trump and Whitman are both doing something that is unpopular?”

Spot on, mate. Both are doing something that is unpopular; unpopular with all but those on the fringes.

“Trump doesn't rule the United States.”

Spot on again. The constitution places the President as second-banana to the Congress in governing the US population. While the President can (and does) promote policy, he/she cannot enact policy. He/she must achieve the approval of Congress, who in turn must achieve the support of the US population. No popular support, no policy. That’s the sticky thing about a democracy. Ultimately, the President is responsible to all of us. If he doesn’t perform to our satisfaction, he gone, as they say.

“Whitman, on the other hand, does indeed "rule" (not the best word choice, but I hope you follow) the athletic department.“

Uh, not so much. Whitman is responsible to the Chancellor, who is responsible to the Board of Trustees, who are responsible to the UI President (in some fashion) and to the Governor (directly). While Whitman is given the responsibility, and therefore the authority to oversee/administer/”rule” the DIA, he cannot do so unilaterally. Note that authority is not autonomy. Ultimately, he is responsible to the Illinois population, if not elected directly, by virtue of the BOT, and in turn the Governor, who is directly elected. Given sufficient public opposition, they too will be gone.

“Whitman doesn't need popular support to make policy.”

Again, not so much. Whitman’s job very much depends on public support. If he antagonizes the fan base, alumni, donors, ticket holders, etc. he will not fill seats at UI athletic events, will not generate sufficient income to support the DIA, and will not be retained.

Ah HA! That’s the issue your mind does not comprehend – a successful “ruler” observes ALL interests within the community as a whole and not, exclusively, one very small segment. Furthermore, a successful “ruler” encourages transparency, not operates in the shadows where the sun don’t shine. In this case, the University of Illinois administration has failed on both counts.

JamBam wrote on August 28, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Hey Josh, you don't "unify" a fanbase by alienating 95% to appease 5%,.  You aren't unifying anything by doing that, other than unifying a large fan base AGAINST Illinois.

Any company that would spite 90% of their customers to appeal to 10% (at most) deserves to have their business fail. That's what Illinois is going to stand for.  Failure.

Former UI Supporter wrote on August 28, 2017 at 11:08 pm

I have lost all confidence in Kent Brown and Josh Whitman because of their obviously false statements about how this came about. Would love to see a FOI submitted to see the data on "the crowd not responding to the War Chant as much as the video board."  Time to find another job guys!

There was an option for the university to solve the CHIEF problem with the NCAA.  Pay off the Peoria Tribe to have them sanction THE CHIEF like Florida State does. Have a Tribe member be the CHIEF and do educational sessions about the history of the ILLINI. Set up scholorships for members of the TRIBE. If we had true CEOs at the University they would find a way to accomplish what 99% of the U of I supporters want.

Bring back the University of Chief Illniwek.

Fireowl wrote on August 29, 2017 at 12:08 am

Bravo for this decision!!!!!!

Annotator wrote on August 29, 2017 at 8:08 am


Thanks for your explanation of how you came about this decision.  Unfortunately, it will bring your tenure at Illinois to an early termination.  Your most important job is to make the UofI athletic teams successful in competition, not to decide what music is played at the games, that belongs to the director of the band.  You have already failed at your primary job!  Don't attempt to take on more responsibilities that you know nothing about!

Objective Reporter wrote on August 29, 2017 at 9:08 am

No Josh, you're not one of us.  

byrdslover wrote on August 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm

I agree. Josh is not one of you. I don't think he ever knew that, until now. I think this whole incident, and especially the reactions to it, are going to awaken him to something that he never knew before, and might change his mind about being here.
Josh knew all those football fans: they worshiped him, complimented him, waited patiently for his autograph, begged for his attention. He was sure they were his friends, his people. Now those people have been unmasked before his eyes, and I guarantee his world has been shaken. It's like finding out that the father you worshipped growing up was really a thief and a liar.
Who are the Illini Josh? You thought you knew.  You were wrong.

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 11:09 am

A clever pivot of logic.  And the tail wags the dog. 

cretis16 wrote on August 29, 2017 at 4:08 pm

I lost a lot of respect for JOSH today......a stab in the back...not from the NCAA...but from " one of ours". Now we have the NY LIb Robt Jones running the BURN the TRADITION flag....with Josh following along. That's getting pretty close to closing the book on U of I football. Time to watch Florida State and the electicity of CHIEF OSCEOLA....

Community wrote on August 30, 2017 at 9:08 pm

A question for the pro-Chief crowd: 

What if the UI mascot were, in your own eyes, racist? Would you calmly suggest, as you lead us to believe, that we should have a vote whether to continue being affiliated with it? 

Or, what if your child's school had a tradition of posting officially school-sanctioned racist images on its walls? Would your response be: "Hey, if the majority of the school's population doesn't care, then too bad for the loser snowflakes who are offended by racism"? 

Just curious. Thanks.

JamBam wrote on September 01, 2017 at 12:09 am

Anyone "offended" by anything is not worthy of response if the majority likes something.  Being "offended" is simply a feeling. It's nothing more than that. Nothing actually happens when you are offended. Your life goes on.  There's nothing in the Constitution that says you are entitled to not be "offended".

So with that in mind, yes I would say that anyone that takes "offense" is a snowflake and if they want something changed that "offends" them, then work on creating a majority that agrees with their position. Otherwise, majority rules.  So if something offends you, I would suggest tolerating it like everyone else in the world who finds something offensive but otherewise has no impact on their lives. They tolerate it. And if they feel strongly enough about it, they attempt to build a consensus majority to get that which offends them changed.

Otherwise, stop whining. The majority rules in a democracy.  This isn't tyranny of a few deciding what is best for the masses (except that's exactly what U of I did, which is why many are angry).



CallSaul wrote on September 01, 2017 at 12:09 am

So you'll then promplty stop whining about the moldy old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot being flushed down the toilet, where it belongs. Y'know, because it's all based on your tender sensibilities being offended by the forward march of society gradually exfoliating past emblams of racism...?

And you won't be such a snowflake as to insist that the fact that you take offense at the silly fake Indian Capt Kangaroo chant being dumped should get in the way of other people getting on with their lives and continuing the process of forgetting about the old racist mascot...?

CommonSenseless wrote on September 01, 2017 at 8:09 am

You sound pretty confident you are with the majority here...why not put it to a vote then?  A student referendum perhaps.

CallSaul wrote on September 01, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Don't be so sure a vote of current students and faculty would go your way...

Community wrote on September 01, 2017 at 10:09 am

I just want to make sure we're clear on what you're committing yourself to here. According to you, it would be completely okay for racism to be officially endorsed -- by a public entity, no less -- as long as the endorsement is decided by a majority of the population. 

I hope this is deeply concerning to everyone else. 

JamBam wrote on September 01, 2017 at 2:09 pm

I'm ok with anything being endorsed if the majority endorses it, as long as the thing they are endorsing does not take away any rights guaranteed by the Constitution for anyone that opposes it.   For instance, if an all black HS wanted to draw a mural of Malcolm X, with his black power fist in the air - I would not be opposed to that even though to me he represents racism. I personally am offended by that image, and all images of BLM.  However, my rights are not being infringed. I may be offended, but my life goes on. And if the majority in that community wants to paint that mural, then let them do it.   If the students of that HS want their school to have that mural, and if the tax payers of that community support that mural - more power to them. It does not tangibly affect my life.  No painting does. No song does. No symbol does. 

The only thing concerning should be your insistence that the majority should not be able to govern themselves.  That is what is concerning.  I believe in democracy. I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in majority rules. I believe in equal rights for everyone under the law.  Protection from being "offended" is not a right.  Let's make that clear.  

And I guarantee anything that you claim to be "racist", the majority does not see that way.  And again, majority rules.  Don't like it?  Change people's minds.  If you try to rule against the people, you get voted out or marginalized because ultimately the will of the people will win in a democracy, business, etc. Something the University of Illinois will learn very quickly as $$$$$ dries up from people angry about the positions they take.


CallSaul wrote on September 01, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Obviously, mascots and other symbolic creations such as songs and statues matter very much.

If they didn't, you and the other 'chief' bitter enders wouldn't whine so much and even threaten to boycott the school you claim to love so much, over the removal of the old racist chicken feather 'chief' mascot or the silly fake Indian 'war chant' cribbed from Capt Kangaroo.

The hysteria of those who still bitterly cling to the 'chief' is ample proof that they know the power of things like mascots and songs.

And when those mascots and songs are as racist as the 'chief' and the fake Indian music, they do real harm to real people.

And that's not up for a vote. 

But who would vote? Would it be limited to faculty and students? Don't be so sure a vote would favor the old racist mascot or the fake Indian music...

Or do you propose others should get a vote too? If so, what groups do you think should get to vote in addition to current students and faculty...?

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 11:09 am

This an excellent, well articulated question and I would love to answer it.  However, I have things to do today and will get to it later this evening.  Please stay tuned.  I promised not to say "chicken feathers" in my response. 

Tom Napier wrote on September 01, 2017 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for your patience.

"A question for the pro-Chief crowd: What if the UI mascot were, in your own eyes, racist? Would you calmly suggest, as you lead us to believe, that we should have a vote whether to continue being affiliated with it?"

I will assume your question presupposes no previous knowledge of the mascot or image, but it strikes me as racist or is otherwise offensive nonetheless.

First, I would familiarize myself with the origins of the mascot and traditions surrounding it: When and why was it developed, who was involved; the history behind it and the context of that time. I would be sure to know the motivation behind the mascot's development and why it gained such acceptance within the community.

Then, I would evaluate the extent of the mascot's continued support within the community, why the mascot is supported and the rationale for supporting it. What are supporters' motivations? I would likewise evaluate the extent of the objection to the mascot; why the objection, why the term racist may be applied, and what are the objectors' motivations?

I must also consider how other cultures handle cultural identity in sports, and whether or not use of their Native characters and symbols represent their national population as a whole.

If I was offended by the mascot, I would evaluate the nature of that offensiveness. Many, many things offend my sensitivities, some seriously (i.e. misrepresentation of Catholicism) and some trivially (i.e. verbal abuse of Whites by African American comics). What do I tolerate and what do I not tolerate, and where does the mascot fit within that spectrum?

Being sufficiently informed about the mascot I would evaluate my position as to whether I still believe it's racist. If I evaluated the origins, motivations, and community support to be flawed, to overtly or intentionally belittle or denigrate a race or culture, and I saw evidence of some adverse impact on the affected community*, I would hold by my opinion. Likewise, if I evaluated the origins, motivations, and community support to be credible, with no intent to belittle or denigrate a race or culture, and no impacts on the affected community, I ought to modify my opinion.

     *Direct cause-and-effect relationship between the mascot and the subject community.

Another conclusion could exist. Perhaps the mascot portrays some attributes that some consider racist, but otherwise is fundamentally valid, or vice versa. I would advocate for a consensus on what is the appropriate representation for the university community; one that removes racist perceptions while preserving heritage, tradition, and community values.

Yes, I would advocate a vote from all within the UI community. This would include faculty/staff, students, alumni, donors, and others determined to have a legitimate interest in the university community.  However, I would evaluate the results as a reflection of community values as opposed to a simple arithmetic exercise. If the vote validates community values, one way or another, I'd observe the results.

Obviously, I support Chief Illiniwek. I have deliberated on the aforementioned long ago and continue to do so. I could write paragraphs on each of the factors I described above. But I won't here. That said, I do see issues that can offend some and features I feel should be modified to address objectors. Again, I would advocate developing a consensus representation that satisfies both sides of this argument, as described above.

There ... and I didn't say "chicken feathers" even once!

Tom Napier wrote on September 02, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Community: One more item for my response, above.

If I were still of the opinion a mascot or image were racist, and vast majority of the community felt it was not ( given reasonable rationale), I would acknowledge my opinion was outside the community's values. I would acknowledge I was an outlier. I would, therefore, accept and respect the opposing opinion. I may not agree, but I would have to respect it. I would express my opinion in a polite and constructive fashion, and would welcome others to do likewise for their opinions. That's the way a democratic society is suppose to work.

But perhaps most importantly I would create as much distance as humanly possible between myself and other objectors who cannot (or refuse to) articulate their reasons for objecting; who create hateful stereotypes for everyone who disagrees with them; who rely on bombastic and inflammatory rhetoric in lieu of rational dialog; who insult and belittle everyone who disagrees with them; who revert to infantile behavior and name calling; who deliberately and stubbornly refuse to learn about the opposing viewpoint; who deliberately and stubbornly deny indisputable fact; those who instigate and exploit controversy for their own self aggrandizement. Such people would be an embarrassment to me and would suck all credibility from my opinion. Such people do more to discredit their opinion than change others'. I would avoid such people like the plague.

Likewise, if I were a mascot supporter, I would distance myself from other pro-mascoters who exhibit similar distasteful behaviors.

Again, thanks for taking a reasoned and constructive approach to this issue. I would welcome your answer to your own question.