Tell the Whole Story, Mr. Allen

Mr. Jef Allen’s recent contribution, "Battlin’ the Battlin’ Beavers," on the festering scandal of the names given to sports teams was a welcome beginning. But it was only a beginning, and a somewhat suspect one at that. Mr. Allen notes that the US Commission on Civil Rights has scheduled a vote on whether to condemn teams or mascots named for American Indians. If such designations are found to be in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, then the many schools throughout the country that harbor such teams — little Paraguays, so to speak — could find their federal funding cut off. Mr. Allen quite rightly points out that this initiative leaves totally unmentioned the even more horrendous, because more widespread, scandal of teams named after what we in our arrogance refer to as animals.

But there are two serious problems with Mr. Allen’s account. First, he limits his condemnation to college and university teams, entirely leaving out professional sports. And second, he relies completely on Ms. Willow Gaia-Oatbran, who, to put it mildly, is a rather controversial figure in the anti-speciesism movement.

These two errors — IF that is all they are — are closely connected.

Let’s consider professional sports, and let’s take football as an example. There appear to be 33 teams in the National Football League (an application is at this moment being processed with the National Endowment for the Humanities for a small grant of $125,000 to study the convoluted and complex question of the exact number).

Two of these organizations do seem to be named for American Indians, Kansas City and Washington. Yet a full 14, nearly half, bear the appellations of "animals," e. g., the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, etc., etc.

I suppose some might find this funny, in a sadistic sort of way, the deadliest enemy of these innocent beings appropriating their very names for their own amusement — like an SS unit calling itself the Anne Frank Division. But the NFL horror goes on. Other teams use names reeking of male chauvinism, e. g., Dallas, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. Still others advertise their connections with the worst elements of past and present capitalist robber-baron exploitation, as in Houston, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.

What of the few that are left? Cleveland? A slap in the face of our growing Hispanic community. Minnesota? Why not just call themselves The Aryans and be done with it? And — this must be said — there is a nasty little secret that no one cares to bring up. Millions of persons around the world suffer from a socially stigmatized condition of "excessive" growth of body mass, sometimes labeled "giantism." The great General and President of France Charles De Gaulle may have been one such individual. Yet we have sports clubs, in New York and Tennessee, that cruelly mock the victims of this affliction. Americans with Disabilities Act, anyone?

The New Englanders are totally inadmissible, not to say repulsive, on account of their blatantly fascist xenophobia. As for New Orleans, hasn’t anyone down there ever heard of the separation of church and state? So, what is left? Green Bay, the other New York team, and San Diego are ambiguous, though they do strongly imply the kind of oh so macho aggressiveness that keeps so many capable young women from plunging into football as equals and banking the formidable salaries of their male counterparts.

In the end, the only humanly acceptable name for any NFL team is that of Buffalo, although, it must be admitted, it too is somewhat suggestive of sexism, if it has any meaning at all. On the other hand, the Bills have acquired the right enemies — people who for some sick reason look down on perennial losers and, as I know from personal experience, racist Confederate scum. Yes, indeed. A few years ago, when I was often in the D. C. and Fairfax area, I used to see any number of Virginia bumper stickers saying, "Please, God, not the Bills again."

Why was all of this indispensable information omitted from Jef Allen’s column? Suspicion falls on his mentor Willow Gaia-Oatbran. Although she has for years labored in the vineyards of anti-speciesism. Gaia-Oatbran is actually on the extreme rightwing of the movement. It is known that from time to time she has taken in "stray" cats, feeding and sheltering them from the elements (somewhat ironically, she lives in Buffalo), rather than respecting their personhood and freedom to roam at will — and thus almost paradigmatically instantiating the Hegelian "master-slave" relationship. It is also suspected, though not proven, that Gaia-Oatbran has been complicit in the neutering/ spaying of at least two "stray" cats, in this way infringing their nature-given right to reproduce ad libitum.

Well, maybe, maybe not. Most likely she was a "good human," who averted her eyes, who just preferred not to know too much about what was going on when the Mengeles were at their work. No surprise, then, that many of us in the animal-rights movement consider Gaia-Oatbran to be virtually a Nazi. What, then, is the solution? Mr. Allen proposes none, though one is obvious and clear-cut. Football, baseball, and other such teams must be renamed for flowers and colors (preferably pastels and nothing suggestive of racism, of course).

This would strongly tend to counteract the endemic testosterone poisoning that infects the sports world and the male population at large — a condition that, studies have shown, has led to an estimated up to 40 million wife-beatings, with thousands of fatalities, on Superbowl Sunday and during the World Series. Really, do we want this holocaust to continue?

March 21, 2001

Ralph Raico is a senior scholar of the Mises Institute and resides in Buffalo.

© 2001