Steven H. Baron | Cancel the Cancel Culture

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

No more cancel culture nonsense! The logo of the Hart High School “Indians” is as appropriate today as it was at its inception 75 years ago.

A “racist” is defined as: a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.

To believe that the creators of the “Indians” logo desired to discriminate against Native Americans is ludicrous. The most plausible explanation for the “Indian” logo is that the creators were in admiration of the virtuous qualities of bravery, competitiveness and fearlessness ascribed, rightly or not, to American Indians in general. Installing the logo “Indians” was intended as a compliment and tribute to Native Americans and not as an act of racism or discrimination.

“Indians” is a generic term unlike the specific designations “Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida” and the “Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.” In today’s unforgiving climate, it is barely imaginable that there would be collaboration between an institution and the designees of any Native American logo.

Yet, for more than 70 years, the logo for Florida State University has been “Seminoles.” In 2005 the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida took the unprecedented step of putting into writing a public declaration of support for the university’s use of the Seminole name, logos and images. There is a close collaboration between FSU and the Seminole tribe, as exemplified by the prominent participation by tribal members in many of the university’s significant events: Tribal members crown the homecoming chief and princess dressed in Seminole regalia, and march in Seminole regalia as the color guard at each FSU graduation ceremony. The student who depicts the Seminole warrior Oscala at football games is dressed in regalia sewn by Seminole women. In 2006, the university honored the tribe during a special Seminole Tribute weekend, unveiling bronze sculptures depicting a Seminole family. FSU has established a scholarship fund for tribal members, and with their collaboration, have instituted a course on the Seminoles’ history and traditions. Did someone forget to tell the Seminoles that they should be “offended”?

Many high school, college and professional sports teams have logos related to “Indians,” such as the Chicago “Blackhawks” of the NHL and the Atlanta “Braves” of Major League Baseball. The reason for these logos is the same for these teams as it is for Hart High, as explained above. It is self-evident why no athletic team on any level has an unflattering logo such as “Snowflakes” or “Sissies,” with its inferences of cowardice, fearfulness and helplessness. Who would want to associate themselves as a coach, player or supporter of any athletic team with such logos?

A poll taken in 2016 by the leftist Washington Post revealed that more than 90% of American Indians found no offense to the logo “Indians.” A similar poll taken by the Post in 2019 found essentially the same. It appears that a small but vocal group of protesters receive publicity by the left-biased media, who then make the exaggerated claim about the wrongfulness of logos related to “Indians” and God knows what else. America is then supposed to feel guilt and acquiesce to the social justice warriors, lest we be accused of racism, discrimination and insensitivity.

It would be illuminating to have information on the following questions:

Prior to 2020, how many parents and students complained in writing or verbally to the Hart administration and/or school board about the logo “Indians”? If so, on what grounds?

Prior to 2020, how many Hart students and faculty requested transfer to another high school because they deemed the logo “Indians” as “offensive”?

Prior to 2020, how many Hart students and faculty sought psychiatric help as a direct result of being “offended” by the logo “Indians”?

Is there any data about the long-term negative effects, if any, on Hart attendees and graduates, of having been exposed to four years of the logo “Indians”?

Is there data on those with no association with Hart who had psychiatric issues related to the logo?

Is there data on the psychological effects of Native American Hart students to the above questions?

Our two sons are Hart graduates, classes 1996 and 2001. Never in the years they attended Hart did our sons ever utter aspersions about “Indians,” nor am I aware that any of their friends or faculty did. Somehow, they managed with the “stigma” of attending a high school with the logo “Indians” to become law-abiding, productive citizens without any damage to their psyche. My guess is that this is the same outcome for thousands of Hart High graduates.

I urge the William S. Hart Union High School District board to reject proposals to eliminate the logo. Unsubstantiated claims from a raucous minority that subjective, unmeasurable psychological harm has been afflicted on the Hart community and others is no justification to remove the logo.

I urge all like-minded citizens, parents, students and alumni to make their feelings known to the board. If the board votes to eliminate the logo, be assured this will be the beginning of “cancel culture” for the Santa Clarita Valley. Expect the logos of all local high schools to be challenged. After that, there will be the charge that cheerleaders who utter “fight team fight” will be construed as encouraging violence to the society at large. And it will never stop. 

This issue is not so complicated that it should take months to render a decision. I give the board the benefit of the doubt that, as elected officials responsible to the public, they want all voices to be heard and have a rational argument for their decision.

We citizens have no direct control over what corporate America does with “cancel culture.” However, we can prevent “cancel culture” from destroying the traditions and fabric of our community. To contact the board, type William S Hart Union High School District in your browser. Names, email addresses and phone numbers of board members are listed.

P.S. In researching this, I found an excellent website detailing the history and status of the original inhabitants of the SCV and beyond, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians. Type the name into your browser. The Tataviam Tribe has an office in San Fernando. With the relationship between FSU and the Seminole Tribe as an example of a beneficial collaboration, perhaps a similar relationship can be established between the District, Hart High, and the Tataviam Tribe. A win-win for all! 

Steven H Baron


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