A move to do away with a Utah high school’s “Redmen” mascot is splitting the community and school board in what some are describing as “people from the outside trying to tell those on the inside that they should be offended.”
Iron County School Board member Dale Brinkerhoff made the characterization when he voted against removing the decades-old moniker from Cedar High School amid a heated public meeting this week, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
“If you don’t like our peaches, get the hell out of our tree,” Brinkerhoff declared to applause.
Brinkerhoff and board member Mary Ann Kemp argued against the change, which they said spawns from liberally biased academic studies and an infatuation with political correctness.
“Unfortunately, it has become fashionable in our society today to be offended,” Kemp said.
Rival Canyon View High School’s mascot, the falcon, is undoubtedly offensive to “sparrows and parakeets and crows,” Brinkerhoff argued, according to the Tribune.
“What can we even say that isn’t offensive?” he questioned.
Brinkerhoff and Kemp were ultimately outvoted 3-2, which prompted angry chants from locals to “Vote ‘em out!”
The Redmen mascot will now be “respectfully” retired at the end of the school year, board president Stephen Allen said in a prepared statement.
“This has been a challenging, yet crucial process, to evaluate an issue that the school district has been looking at for decades,” he said. “In keeping with the Iron County School District’s mission statement it is essential that Cedar High School has a mascot and symbol that is inclusive and honoring of all.”
A mascot committee studied the potential name change and voted 17-7 in January to recommend the district do away with the Redmen, a tradition dating back to the early 1940s, KSL reports.
According to the Tribune:
The issue has divided members of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, which is headquartered in Cedar City. Current CHS students who are American Indian have spoken out on both sides of the issue. Some have said the mascot is a source of pride. Others rejected claims that the mascot “honors” Native American people, saying that argument erases the racist bullying they have encountered at the school, as well as the historical oppression of American Indian communities.
Board members pushing for the name change acknowledged that it wasn’t a request from local Indians that prompted the review, but rather negative attention from viral videos. Online social justice warriors in 2016 besieged the district with cries of cultural appropriation when Cedar High’s drill team donned braided wigs for a Native American style dance routine, and at least three board members would rather not deal with the scrutiny.
“This mascot demands a lot of time and resources,” board member Michelle Lambert complained. “It’s a drain, money-wise, a drain time-wise, and every time we have another viral video we have another crisis.”
Allen, the school board president, said the district is forming a “transition team” comprised of school alumni, students, faculty and community and tribal members to come up with a new mascot.