Yesterday while browsing Facebook, I ran across the former logo of my Alma Mater, the College of William & Mary. The logo was a green W and M with gold trim accompanied by golden feathers with green tips. I say former logo as it was retired sometime in either 2006 or 2007. The logo did not simply fall out of favor or was in need of a modern facelift; rather, in another case of political correctness gone amuck, it was deemed offensive by the NCAA. But wait! You see Native Americans might take offense to the feathers. What? Feathers?!? First of all, how Native Americans have a monopoly on feather depiction is simply beyond me. Second, if you care to examine potential insensitivity in sports, what about the Washington Redskins or the Chicago Blackhawks? What offends more, Chief Wahoo or a couple of feathers?
Assuming Native Americans have an exclusive right to feathers, let’s move on and consider other national symbols. How about my ancestors, the Germans? What symbol or symbols do you think of when it comes to Germany? Ok, not that one. Although the swastika originated somewhere in India and Pakistan, and was used by the Roman Empire, in the hands of the Nazis it was infused with much evil. That symbol is pretty much beyond redemption in the western world given its association with totalitarianism, rabid nationalism, militarism, and genocide. So how about the Tatzenkreuz? The what? You should know it as the shape of the Iron Cross. Although originating much earlier than the Iron Cross, the Tatzenkreuz came to symbolize the rise of the modern German state both before and during the Nazi Era. Not only used as awards, it also appeared on a number of versions of the flag of the Second Reich. Therefore, should I, as a descendent of Germans, be offended when I see it used by others? Hardly. But, Joshua, you say, that’s different! Is it really? Is it just because of Native Americans minority status? Although whites make up a majority of the American population, I assure you that those of German ancestry are in the minority. Should we be afforded special rights and privileges too? Taking this argument to its illogical conclusion, I wonder if we want a society where every person and every group is treated the same under the law or do we wish to be divided and pitted against each other in racial warfare?
All I ask for is my college logo back. Are two feathers that offensive and racially inconsiderate? If you think so, feel free to tell me why. Unfortunately, I know that the W&M debate is over. Common sense fell prey to liberal/feel-good sensibilities back in 2006, but that doesn’t mean that it has to in the future. Honestly, can you imagine all that fuss over a couple of feathers?