A hallmark of Wisconsin politics is a bipartisan tendency toward self-congratulation for being the first to experiment with nifty policy ideas. So it’s probably not out of character that the athletic fields of Wisconsin public schools have been the battleground for two conflicting visions of human progress.
One considers it an adornment of advanced civilization to require that the names by which athletic teams call themselves pass muster with every oddball who craves notoriety and lodges a complaint that in darker centuries would have been tolerantly heard and politely dismissed.
The other holds that when state government sets out to enforce the whims of people who received insufficient parental attention growing up and thus failed to do so, civilization has veered, slightly but unmistakably, toward a rollover accident with internal injuries.
The matter will be resolved by legislation reining in the Department of Public Instruction’s license to financially bleed school districts into renouncing American Indian-related team names. The Mukwonago School District, serving a town that itself bears an Indian name and is courageously defying a Department order, welcomed the news.
The need to dispose of this politically correct Doyle-era leftover arises from the boneheaded presumption that people who worship their teams give them names they detest. Liberals on the hunt for satisfying examples of majoritarian bigotry have the problem of explaining why a community would identify its children with people it holds in contempt.
Emblematic of this is the eternal seething over the Washington Redskins, of whom Milwaukee’s late Rev. James Groppi, in characteristic, measured fashion, once asked “Why don’t they just call themselves the [‘N’ word]?”
The correct reply to the good Father, who built a minor career by abandoning all sense of proportion, is that they didn’t, they don’t, and no team does.