- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Political correctness sometimes backfires. Such is the case of the "Fightin' Whities" of the University of Northern Colorado. Rather than take offense, the whities shouldn't it be "whiteys"? don't seem to care. In fact, a lot of whities, or whiteys, are downright pleased.

Intended to foster awareness of the supposedly derogatory use of Indian, er, Native American, names and themes for sports teams, the Fightin' Whities name doesn't seem to annoy anyone, white-skinned or otherwise. In fact, the very people whose consciousness it was supposed to raise local yokels who cheer on the Fightin' Reds of Eaton High School in Greeley, Colo. have embraced the new name, and even want T-shirts and other merchandise emblazoned with the logo, or the caption, "Everthang's gonna be all white!" One e-mail writer, as reported by Valerie Richardson in this newspaper, put it: "As a white male, I'm not offended, I'm honored they are doing this. It isn't often that white males get any good news." True enough.

Meanwhile, the great mind who came up with this attempt at racial turnabout seems rather glum that his brainstorm has had the reverse effect of the intended. "We thought, 'Let's just turn the tables on them', " said Solomon Little Owl. Mr. Little Owl is the director of the university's Native American Student Services. He also plays on the Fightin' Whities basketball team, which had previously gone by the name "Native Pride." How offensive, some will say. But you have to be a high initiate into the orthodoxies of political correctness to derive an insult from either "Native" or "Pride." Code words, perhaps?

Most people, callous, uncaring proto-bigots that they may be, simply take these terms at face value or ascribe positive connotations to them. Terms such as "Braves" and "Indians" and "Redskins" have never been used derisively. Indeed, the idea that a sports team would purposely mock itself by assuming a name associated with anything other than admirable qualities is ludicrous on its face unless, of course, you're a professional ax-grinder looking to find insult where none exists. Sort of like Mr. Little Owl.

As Mrs. Richardson pointed out in her dispatch from Colorado, sports teams have long been named after white people of one sort or another Vikings, Highlanders, even "Ragin' Cajuns." It has never bothered anyone, however because the terms are used in a positive way, to convey admirable traits and qualities, just as the Native-American-themed terms have been. That fact is what toppled Mr. Little Owl's politically correct straw man.


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