- - Monday, August 11, 2014

Finding something to be offended by has replaced baseball as the national pastime. The controversy over calling the Washington Redskins the Redskins has subsided now that the season is getting underway (the ‘Skins won their exhibition opener), and there will soon be enough real Redskins news to distract attention from the terminally vexed.

The baseball season is entering its pennant stretch for a few fortunate teams, which this year doesn’t include the Cleveland Indians. But fans are entertained by the continuing sniping about Chief Wahoo, the grinning mascot who tries to be happy with the team Cleveland’s got. One fan who doesn’t like Chief Wahoo made up a T-shirt with the word “Caucasian” emblazoned across the chest, together with a blond mascot who looks a lot like Chief Wahoo’s cousin, to see how whites like an imagined put-down. A lot of white folks like it a lot, apparently, and a Cleveland T-shirt maker sold thousands of them.

A few black law students at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., were so offended by the sepulchral presence of Robert E. Lee that they demanded that the Confederate battle flags unfurled over his entombed body at the Lee Chapel be banished. The university, being administered by academics eager not to offend even if they have to be offensive about it, complied. Visitors are left to wonder who that man under the marble might be, and why he’s there. The university president said he was not apologizing for the iconic general, who was president of Washington and Lee after what Southerners have called the War of Northern Aggression, but he, alas, was not perfect. “Lee was an imperfect individual living in imperfect times.” (This is how the learned talk.)

At the University of Mississippi, the battle flags are long furled, and the university band has been told it must no longer tootle music associated with the South, lest it offend Yankees. The ban even includes a dirgelike number, “From Dixie With Love,” incorporating both “Dixie” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” This was enormously popular, inspiring students in their exuberance to cry that “the South will rise again.”

Now some of the perfessers want to banish the very name “Ole Miss,” not necessarily because “ole Miss” is what the slaves called the mistress of the plantation in olden days, but because it diminishes the importance in which the Ole Miss professoriate regards itself. The university decreed that “Ole Miss” is OK at the stadium, at least for now, but the perfessers must not say the O-word in the polite places where their learned colleagues gather to exchange big thoughts. Happy times are here again.