George Will

The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux may have to find another nickname because the various Sioux tribes cannot agree about whether they are insulted. But the only remnant of the Illini confederation, the Peoria tribe, is now in Oklahoma. Under its chief, John Froman, the tribe is too busy running a casino and golf course to care about Chief Illiniwek. The NCAA ethicists probably reason that the Chief must go because no portion of the Illini confederation remains to defend him.

Or to be offended by him, but never mind that, or this: In 1995, the Office of Civil Rights in President Clinton's Education Department, a nest of sensitivity-mongers, rejected the claim that the Chief and the name Fighting Illini created for anyone a ``hostile environment'' on campus.

In 2002, Sports Illustrated published a poll of 351 Native Americans, 217 living on reservations, 134 living off. Eighty-one percent said high school and college teams should not stop using Indian nicknames.

But in any case, why should anyone's disapproval of a nickname doom it? When, in the multiplication of entitlements, did we produce an entitlement for everyone to go through life without being annoyed by anything, even a team's nickname? If some Irish or Scots were to take offense at Notre Dame's Fighting Irish or the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College, what rule of morality would require the rest of us to care? Civilization depends on, and civility often requires, the willingness to say, ``What you are doing is none of my business'' and ``What I am doing is none of your business.''

But this is an age when being an offended busybody is considered evidence of advanced thinking and an exquisite sensibility. So, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has demanded that the University of South Carolina's teams not be called Gamecocks because cock fighting is cruel. It also is illegal in South Carolina.

In 1972, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst replaced the nickname Redmen with Minutemen. White men carrying guns? If some advanced thinkers are made miserable by this, will the NCAA's censors offer relief? Scottsdale Community College in Arizona was wise to adopt the nickname ``Fighting Artichokes.'' There is no grievance group representing the lacerated feelings of artichokes. Yet.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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