I’m never going back / to my old school
That’s right: the University of Denver, where I once taught argument, lit, and theory — and where Brian Kiteley, as head of the creative writing program and a champion of the free expression of novelists, finds certain ideas unpalatable and in need of censorship if not shunning (not things of the American Psycho or Lolita or Ulysses or Portnoy’s Complaint variety, though; literary danger arises instead in brief polemics or political cartoons that posit a potential logistical civil war in the US, or Obama’s metaphorical raping of liberty, which is racist, because only blacks ever engage in rape), has decreed that it’s former mascot, “Denver Boone,” is too offensive and politically incorrect to be brought back, despite wide-spread support for his return — evidently by those mouthbreathing morons and politically incorrect buffoons who don’t see in the cartoon the historical hatred that is forever embedded in its contours, the racism, the misogyny, or the spirit of unrealistic individualism that is infused in its symbology (which individualism, if unfulfilled by those who graduate the university with enormous debt and no real job prospects, would give lie to the implied pioneering promise he represents).
[Officials at the University of Denver] announced they won’t reinstate “Denver Boone,” who was retired in 1998 as mascot for the UD Pioneers, despite calls to bring him back.
Boone originally had been replaced by a red-tailed hawk named “Ruckus” but the bird never soared high with the student body and was scrapped in 2007, leaving the school without a mascot. Fast forward and the school decided to put together a committee last spring to determine the new mascot, but Boone was not even considered.
“Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the UD community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit,” Chancellor Robert Coombe said in a March letter to the school community.
University officials also claim that Boone was not up for consideration because of a consensus by the student body that it wanted an entirely new mascot — despite numerous Facebook postings to the contrary.
– One is entitled to ask — and I shall — who the fuck cares what “many women, persons of color, internati0nal students and faculty members” find “difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit”? That is to say, why grant deference to these professional victims and purveyors of false signfication, when you can easily remove all their power by every once in a while standing up to their ridiculous protests — in this case, by reminding them that Daniel Boone was a rugged pioneer and is considered an American icon; that a coon skin cap is actually from a raccoon, and is not a “racist” dog whistle for some other homophonic signifier that can be conflated with the intended sign in order to create a conflict that only exists by way of insisting there is one; and that — the only way, it seems, to avoid indictments for misogyny — would be to use a female mascot, or a transgendering mascot, or an asexual mascot, which thinking, when pursued to its logical end, suggests that the very choice of a man over a women, even in something representative such as a mascot, is inherently sexist; whereas the opposite is “progressive” rather than sexist or misandrist.
As for the discomfort international students might feel being confronted by a symbol of southwestern pioneering spirit here in the US? Perhaps they should either learn to live with it, or else not attend a university tied proudly to the pioneering spirit of the southwestern US. But wait: there’s a real historical concern here, says Professor Randell Jones!
Boone was a legend of early American history and the archetypal hero of the American Western Frontier.Later, his image and legend fell victim to revisionist history as he became associated with the forceful displacement of Native Americans from their land.So how closely linked are Denver Boone and Daniel Boone? “
Any association of the Denver Boone caricature with America’s pioneer hero, Daniel Boone, is misguided,” said Randell Jones, historian and author of the book “In the Footsteps of Daniel Boone.”
“Mythology and Fess Parker aside, it is well documented that Daniel Boone never wore a coonskin cap. Neither did he wear a beard. Moreover, any exploits by him west of Missouri are speculative at best.”
Of course, my defense of this cartoon marks me as a reactionary hillbilly bigot not fit to join the esteemed ranks of professional victims and their intellectual enablers.
Which is why I elected not to join them to begin with.
But let me just address Professor Jones’ concerns: as with many cartoons or caricatures (and the mascot field is rife with them: the San Diego Chicken, for instance, shows an ability oftentimes to outwit umpires and deploy an opposable thumb — something many real world chickens would never be able to pull off, unless they were playing tic-tac-to against, say, Eva Longoria or Katie Perry), exaggerations or attendant attributes are not intended to be historically accurate; rather, they play upon a mythology that promotes a lesson. Boone was tied historically to pioneering spirit. And it is to that the mascot refers, intentionally so.
What Professor Jones wants to do is resignify the mascot — to create from a cartoon a kind of constraining literalism to justify his fetish for deconstructing America’s rugged-individualist “mythos” — in a bit of laughable, pseudo-intellectual post hoc justification.
He may as well be attacking Disney for all its talking animals — which, historically, have proven rare. At least, those who use English and are able to form musical numbers extemporaneously.
The American university is where the free exchange of ideas — and real intellectualism — goes to die. And this is so because it is run by timid bureaucrats who cave to leftist identity politics.
If I knew any contemporary University of Denver students, I’d have them make this very argument. Right there, in the middle of the tiny free speech zone the university likely sets aside for those it has failed to properly indoctrinate.
I’m embarrassed for the university, frankly. But then, I’ve been embarrassed for academia in general for quite some time.
But because my concerns have always revolved around “fundamentally unserious” questions of language, interpretation (and in this case, textual or iconographic instances of same), my embarrassment doesn’t carry much weight.
So it is what it is.
(h/t Terry H)