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Letter: Stop the Nonsense

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To The Editor:

I thought that adjustments to the naming convention and imagery surrounding Hall’s and Conard’s team mascots was concluded a few years ago.  It was decided that the Native American imagery was deemed to be offensive but the names “Warriors” and “Chieftains” were acceptable, what changed in the last seven years? Here are four reasons to declare this issue resolved with no further action required:

1) Definition of “Warrior”:

  1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.
  2. a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.

ORIGIN 

1250–1300; Middle English werreieor<Old North French, equivalent to werrei(er) to war1 + -eor-or2
2) Definition of “Chieftain”:
  1. the chief of a clan or a tribe.
  2. a leader of a group, band, etc.:the robbers’ chieftain.
  3. initial capital letter)Military. Britain’s main battle tank since 1969, fitted with a 120 mm gun and two machine guns and weighing 55 tons (50metric  tons).

ORIGIN

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English cheftayne, variant of chevetaine, from Old French, from Late Latin capitāneus “chief”; see captain

3) Reasonable minds would conclude that when a name is chosen for a team mascot, the name would intend to represent a figure or concept worthy of great respect and/or admiration, not mockery. While the names and imagery originally chosen were obviously a nod to our area’s original inhabitants, we have to assume that they were chosen as a symbol of strength and dignity.  How many teams name themselves the “Rats’, “The Mice”, “The Houscats” or “Goldfish” or other mascot that does not convey strength or pride?  No offense to these otherwise noble creatures.  How can the use of Warrior or Chieftain be considered anything but well-intentioned and respectful?

4) Other than highly-sensitized and misguided members of our student bodies and a few other community members, who is fighting for this?  Is there any outcry from The Native American Community?  Cancel Culture in many cases is warranted, this proposed action is simply a step over the line.  Any time there is a shift in societal opinion and direction, there are those who fight for “tradition” and those who fight for “reform” and both sides tend to over-compensate to support their side of the argument and their “cause”.  It is the responsibility of authorities and elected officials to act as the stewards of public opinion and welfare and not succumb one way or the other to the loudest voice or lowest common denominator.

As a parent of three Hall graduates, I truly appreciate the  dedication of the BOE to West Hartford’s children and the good work that it has done over the years.  I do not sit on the BOE and I am not required to respond to the variety of issues that they face every day.  However, from where I sit, there are far more significant issues at hand like normalizing our students’ educational experience in the face of COVID-19, preparing our students to thrive in today’s economy with stronger math and science curriculum and focusing on the mental health crisis plaguing our adolescents.  Pandering to the small number of chronically offended members of our community over words that, by definition, do not originate from Native American culture seems to be a frivolous distraction from the good work the BOE is elected to do.

In the end, who benefits from retiring these mascot names, other than the Social Justice Warriors who have decided that “Warriors” and “Chieftains” are offensive?  Would their time not be better spent petitioning the town to change the names of the streets north of Albany Ave and east of King Philip Drive?  Those names are DIRECTLY named after Native American Tribes… how’s that for cultural appropriation?   Further, where is the outcry for the name of King Philip Middle School? You may not know this but King Philip was the English name given to the Chief of the Wampanoag people.  His given name was Metacom and known as Metacomet and Pometacom among his people.  It was the English Settlers who called him King Phillip for their own purposes.  Which is more offensive?  My point here is… where does it end?  The BOE can end this over-rotation now by sticking to the business of education for our children.

Stop the Nonsense!

Sincerely,
Doug Mantz

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1 Comment

  • Excellent letter by Doug Mantz to “Stop the Nonsense.” Couldn’t we instead focus on encouraging more people to recycle garbage properly or trim their hedges near road junctions to make turning corners safer? Or, locking their cars at night? We’re so lucky to live in West Hartford, that silly concerns over innocuous name changes are among our most serious problems?

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