On the EDge: Time to retire Cedar High School’s Redmen moniker

Stock image | Image by siraanamwong/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION — There is no possible way for the members of the Iron County School District to justify, defend and perpetuate the nickname used to identify Cedar City High School.

No matter how you slice it, the nickname Redmen is offensive and a group of Cedar City residents is trying to have it changed.

They understand that it is disrespectful, insensitive, an insult to those with American Indian heritage.

Just as you wouldn’t nickname sports teams the Blackmen, the Brownmen, or the Whitemen, you shouldn’t name them the Redmen.

Particularly in a community with a history of ethnic insensitivity that ranges from town officials participating in minstrel shows to the horror of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, when the local militia disguised itself as American Indians to attack a wagon train making its way west from Arkansas and killing 120 men, women and children.

There are reasons why Southern Utah is 93 percent white.

These are just two.

And I can honestly say I understand why somebody would not wish to live in a place where they are not welcomed or at least afforded basic human dignity and respect.

There’s more to this sad story, of course, in that the school district had plans to keep most of this behind closed doors.

There is a meeting of the Cedar High Mascot Committee tonight to decide what recommendations to make regarding the name change.

There were two meetings designated for public discussion, however there were also two private meetings on the matter, which were certainly not within the spirit and intent of the state’s Open and Public Meeting Act. Protests by this news agency and the public forced the committee to make tonight’s meeting open to the public. We don’t even know who the committee members are. I guess we will find out tonight.

But as one of the attorneys who pressed for the open meeting said, “Public issues must be decided in a public way.”

We’re not sure exactly what was discussed during the previous meetings, although I would expect this news agency to file a request for the minutes of those meetings under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act. It would be imperative, as the watchdog for the community and the news outlet of public record, to obtain those meeting notes and tell the voters just how much “candor” existed in those meetings. Did anybody step over the lines of decency or civility? If so, the public needs to know.

This sort of thing is actually nothing new in Cedar City where it wasn’t that terribly long ago when city council members would sometimes drop in at the mayor’s house to discuss issues out of the public’s view.

I know.

I caught them doing it.

You can pretty well get an idea that illegal meetings are taking place when there is little discussion during the city council meetings but the issues all pass with unanimous approval.

The Cedar City Council soon got it to the point of posting its appearance in the annual Christmas parade as a meeting because the mayor and, at the very least, a voting majority, would be in the same place at the same time.

While this mascot committee is not setting a budget or voting on an ordinance of any kind, it is still working on a matter of public interest and cannot duck public scrutiny. There could be a budget issue if a name change requires new signage and uniforms. More importantly, we are entitled to know who is clinging to insensitive racial attitudes.

The use of Redmen as a nickname for Cedar High isn’t something that suddenly became insensitive. It has always been an insult, it will remain an insult, a fact that those who respond to the dog whistles don’t seem to understand. It’s just that now, people are beginning to stand up a little firmer to bigotry and ignorance.

We haven’t, and probably never will, erase that sort of thing from the planet, but decency demands that we continue that fight.

This isn’t only a Cedar City thing. We’ve seen other colleges and high schools faced with the same problem. Remember the pain, anger and teeth-gnashing when Dixie State University transitioned from Rebels to Trailblazers?

We also have pro teams, from the Washington Redskins to the Cleveland Indians, that have come under fire.

Some colleges use names, like the Utah Utes and Florida Seminoles, that are sanctioned by the tribes.

And others, that one would believe to be offensive, are actually in another category, like the Chicago Blackhawks, who named their team after the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army that fought during World War I and was named the Blackhawk Division after Chief Blackhawk, an American Indian leader; or Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish, named after the Irish immigrants who fought for the Union during the Civil War in what became the Irish Brigade. The brigade’s chaplain was The Rev. William Corby, C.S.C, who later was named the third president of Notre Dame.

There will be those, I am sure, who will dig in their heels and cling to the Redmen moniker, claiming it is a tie to the legacy of the area or some such nonsense.

But, quite frankly, there are other names that could be more fitting, from the Miners to the Pioneers. Either name would be perfectly accurate and acceptable as a tribute to Cedar City’s history.

But, it’s time to retire the Redmen, just as they retired the minstrel shows that the community used to think were so funny.

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

16 Comments

  • Blaine January 15, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Just think of all the place names and mascots that must be changed for fear of offending someone! Utah has scores of place names that were chosen to honor — not to offend Utah’s indigenous peoples. That includes the name of the state itself. All these names must be changed to avoid offending those in the victimhood culture. Consider all the places names in the West that are related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that surely must be offended to countless victims. They all must be renamed. Perhaps the all-wise Kociela can pick names and mascots that cannot possibly offend anyone.

    • Real Life January 15, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      You are correct sir. There is no quenching the liberal thirst for extreme change. Where does it stop? Not even a liberal can answer. Everyone is offended, and everyone should be cottled. Names of sports teams were not donned to embarrass or degrade the very idea of the team in the first place. The name was meant to be feared or honored, not mocked as most on the left would want you to believe. Think about it, there’s a reason that there are no teams named after clowns or cowards.

  • Craig January 15, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Out PC demands are getting old, especially when people seek to find things they determine are offensive.

    We have an arrogant, condescending elite who have determined they are so intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us, they alone decide what is acceptable and then force the rest of us comply.

    Looking for reasons to be offended is getting old.

    • bikeandfish January 15, 2019 at 6:39 pm

      Just to clarify, the tribal youth, that are CHS students, that spoke last night for a new mascot are part of the “elite”? Or how about the fact that part of this is in response to online attacks against students solely because of the mascot name (obviously not their “fault”). If you actually took the time to listen to the varied reasons why the committee was formed and those supporting the name change you might not have such a simplistic response. I have actually come to understand those who believe the old name is in reference in some form (ie disagree with Ed’s complete dismissal) but still believe the question is fair nor can it be written off solely about personal offense.

      And by the way, they just voted 17-7 in favor of the change. Not many elites on the varied committee of local stakeholders that made that decision.

  • justrelax January 15, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Change Pine Views mascott to the “whitemen”, lets see who gets their feelings hurt.
    This is a non issue.

  • Carpe Diem January 15, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    They should just give in to full surrender, and go with “SoyBoys”

  • Travis January 16, 2019 at 6:49 am

    ANIMALS!!!! Or how about the Murdering Mormons! Anyone offended?

    • tcrider January 16, 2019 at 9:59 am

      There is already a monument for the hypocritical act of the
      mountain meadows massacre, maybe you could take a photo of
      the monument and put arms and legs on it and that could make a mascot.

  • KR567 January 16, 2019 at 6:49 am

    Hey why not just shut down the high school …problem solved LOL !

  • KR567 January 16, 2019 at 6:51 am

    I named my goldfish Geronimo ..they will be showing up at my house my now

  • rusty shackleford January 16, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    If Ed wants to rename Cedar High School’s mascot maybe he should rename his two books. I don’t believe the term “plygs” or “plygs2” is endearing to the Polygamists. Nice work Ed, pick and chose who you want to offend.

  • AnnieMated January 16, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    I have to be honest, IDGARA (I Don’t Give a Rats Ass) what they call themselves. They could call themselves “We’re not LDS or Mormon. We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” team for all I care. It’s a NAME people. A word or words that we have given meaning to. It’s NOTHING compared to issues like;
    1) The fact that Utah sports some of the worst paid teachers in the nation;
    2) Utah is a democracy in name only and, lastly;
    3) is led by a bunch of people who -as proven by the “Marijuana Compromise”- care NOTHING about the people they are supposed to represent.
    So some crappy 3rd rate high school team wants to call themselves ‘Redmen’. Who gives a crap? Not I.

  • JJODL January 17, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Do we have a right not to be offended? If so, Ed shouldn’t be allowed to write editorials.

  • onetruesteve January 18, 2019 at 8:34 am

    So much insensitivity! I have to wonder, if you are less sensitive to something than I am, are you insensitive? It is a very subjective matter. As such we should be very hesitant to mandate knee-jerk, feelings-based change. Particularly (as I have said elsewhere) given current politically-correct progression, we have moved beyond issues such as cultural insensitivity. We are in the age of post-modernism- an enlightened stage of society in which all opinions are equally valid. No one is right or wrong, you have your truth and I have mine. In this new permissive society of equality for all we have no grounds for opposing anything. Just accept it.

    • bikeandfish January 18, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Your series of comments relies on an “appeal to the extremes” and an utter misrepresentation of the current issue. Both are fallacious deconstructions of a nuanced issue.

      You are right to previously highlight there are many people who disagree with the choice of the committee, even Native American students. But you seem to provide their perspective a respect that you deny those who support a name change. To disparage views different than yours as simply “knee-jerk, feelings-based change” is absurd and requires ignoring a range of reasons presented at the various meetings. This isn’t only about “feelings” or “sensitivities”, even though those can be valid arguments. Much of what discussed included the pejorative use of the term locally and nationally. Discounting issues of representations, especially ones that rely on gross caricatures, can’t be written off solely as trivialities.

      And calling the committees decision knee-jerk isn’t a sincere representation of the long debate about this very issue. Its been going on for more than a decade.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.