Whenever I hear them talking their PC smack, I think of what my friend wrote when Marquette University decided to change their nickname from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles in the mid-90s after receiving exactly zero complaints, My buddy balked at this kowtowing to political correctness and wrote a letter to the editor of the school newspaper. The Marquette Tribune didn’t publish it, but my friend let me read it (or, I should say, he INSISTED I read it). For reasons that are not clear to me now, I kept a copy and recently unearthed it.
For my PC daughters, who I hope will never read it here, I reprint it (without my friend’s permission, but I’m sure he’ll be happy to learn it was finally published somewhere.). (Remember, this was written in the 90s…)
Marquette University has decided that its nickname, the Warriors, is insensitive to Native Americans. A warrior is not necessarily an Indian, but, in the view of the Marquette administration, the warrior symbol is so closely linked with Native Americans that to separate the two would be impossible. A committee (who else?) has decided that despite the fact that no complaints have been registered to date, the nickname must go.
I, for one, applaud this controversial position. Some might say that basketball is inexorably linked to the Marquette Warriors. Some might think that the Fighting Irish is a far more offensive nickname than Warriors. Or how about the Gamecocks of South Carolina? (I wonder what they call their women’s sports teams.) Some might think that a campaign of cultural blandness designed to guarantee that not a single person in the world is offended is ludicrous. But I am behind Marquette’s decision all the way.
In the words of M.U. president Albert J. DiUlio, S.J., “It is in no one’s interest to keep a symbol if it does not reflect the mission of the University.” That being the case, I’m sure the Marquette seal is next to go. How could it possibly reflect the mission of the university if nobody knows what it means? The seal depicts what appears to be two dogs changing a lightbulb, a barber pole, and a drawing of Pere Marquette telling an Indian oarsman that he’s paddling in the wrong direction. Above all that appears the words, “Numen Flumenque.”
First of all, what’s with the dogs? Is this an attempt to answer some twisted riddle? Q: How many dogs does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Two. One to change it, and one to make sure the Anti-Cruelty Society isn’t offended by a dog changing a lightbulb.
Then, there’s the barber pole. Who knows what they had in mind when they thought of this part of the seal. Maybe it’s actually representative of Cliffs’ Notes, which are so often used by university students in lieu of reading actual literary works. [Ed. note: I am being told that the barber pole is actually in honor seven heroes from the House of Onaz, the maternal side of St. Ignatius’ parentage, which distinguished itself in battle. Hmm…Let’s see…What else could we call heroes who distinguished themselves in battles? Perhaps, “warriors”?]
Next, what could be more offensive to Native Americans than a picture of Jacques Marquette ordering a subserviant Indian around? Jacques doesn’t even have the decency to look where he’s directing the Indian to paddle. If I were that Indian, I’d say, “Blow it out your ear, Frenchie. If you don’t like how I’m paddling, start swimming.” The name “Warrior” is a tremendous compliment compared with this unfortunate depiction of European dominance of Native Americans.
Finally, does anybody know what “Numen Flumenque” means? Is it French or Latin? It sounds like the latest flu strain, or a European dance craze. It might reflect the mission of the University if the mission were to revive dead languages. Here’s a hint: If you want a motto to mean something to people, put it in the language that the greatest number of those people speak. Just a thought.
It would make more sense to me to get rid of the offensive and obviously outdated seal before getting rid of the nickname, but as long as the all-knowing committee has made its irreversible decision, I’m willing to help choose a new nickname.
Coming up with a nonoffensive nickname is no easy task. Here are some of my suggestions:
|the Maquette Genderless Beings
||Could be too long.
|the Marquette Nondenominational, Nonracial, Noncalorie Persons of Unknown Origin
||Definitely too long
|the Marquette People
||Probably won’t intimidate opponents
|the Marquette Fog
||Promotes sameness, uniformity, and equality
|the Marquette Bland
||Might be confused with the Marquette Band
|the Marquette Variables
||Acknowledges differences while promoting our strong Chemistry and Mathematics programs.
|the Marquette Blobs of Well-Organized Protoplasm
||All inclusive, nonoffensive, vague chemical reference
|the Marquette Milquetoast
||French-looking, appropriate name for those afraid to rattle any cages or take a stand
For one reason or another, all the nonoffensive, politically sensitive names I considered were either too vague or incredibly dull. I then decided that I must pick a name from the animal kingdom. Animals may get offended by their portrayal in collegiate sports, but they don’t complain much. In picking an animal-based nickname, I wanted to pick an animal that was not currently being used by every other high school or college (i.e., Panthers, Wildcats, Lions, Tigers, Bears, Eagles, Banana Slugs, etc.). I also wished to pick an animal that possessed the qualities that Marquette would like to see its representatives engender. And by engender, I’m not referring to one gender or the other, but merely to gender in general. I apologize if I offend.
Anyway, here are some of my suggestions:
|the Ring-Tailed Lemurs
||live in large groups, work will with their hands
||nobody knows what these things are
“M.U.” angle of Emus
|the Three-Toed Sloths
||slow, lazy, hang upside down from trees; a really stupid suggestion; might offend the disabled
||small rodents who follow the crowd; accurate name for the politically correct
After discarding all my attempts at a new nickname, and on the verge of despondency, (and when I say despondency, I don’t mean to disparage the despondent, and I apologize if I did) I was struck by a bolt of inspiration. The perfect nonoffensive, nonsexist, nongender specific, nonracial, noncarbonated, politically correct, sensitive-to-all nickname — the Marquette Barneys! Who could be more nonoffensive than Barney? He’s so nice, it’s maddening. Just think of what this image will do to our opponents. They will be so riled thinking about Barney’s overly considerate nature, and his nauseating good manners, that they won’t be able to concentrate on the game. All we need to do is change our colors to purple and green and change our fight song (and when I say fight song, I don’t mean to offend pacifists, and I apologize if I did).
I love you, you love me
kick it out and hit the three,
with a great big dunk
and a pass from me to you
won’t you say you love M.U.
And, we instantly have a new mascot and lovable sidekick. Plus, think of the marketing opportunities. Barney is everywhere. But now, Barney will be marketed wearing a Marquette jersey. Every parent whose kid owns Barney sheets, shoes, lunch boxes, clothes, etc., will now have to buy all new M.U. Barney stuff because the kid will just have to have it. Think of it!
Kids will grow up wanting to come to Marquette. Then, we can teach them all to be politically correct thinkers. We’ll teach them that they should never express how they feel because someone might disagree with them, and that would be wrong. Individuality and creativity are fine, as long as we all do it together the way it’s always been done. They’ll learn how to thrive in an atmosphere of sameness and perfect equality. They’ll learn to please everyone all the time, and value superficial gestures over meaningful change. We’ll graduate more politicians than the entire Ivy League.
And maybe, if we’re not careful, they just might learn that in making sure you don’t offend anyone, in a way, you offend everyone.