Now They Are Coming After the Pioneers

The public display of "woke" sensitivity is certainly contagious, and this virus has infected all levels of academic and corporate worlds. There are no issues too trivial to be affected, including team mascots and logos. Marietta College, a small liberal arts college in Ohio, has recently announced to its alumni that the College's Pioneer mascot and logo are "under review" in light of "recent events." This "review" is a symptom of a much larger story.

It is not too difficult to figure out just what are these "recent events," as manifested by the current war on the name Redskins and on the monuments that include those of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The name Pioneers may soon join the forbidden ranks of Redskins. Apparently, any respect for those of European ancestry who first ventured into the Ohio River valley may now be unacceptable for a college that once proudly referred to itself as the Pioneers.

In and of themselves, any team's nickname, logo, and mascot, are not very important. Who really cares if the team is called the Pioneers or whatever? Unfortunately, this proposed "review" by the College has a much broader, nationwide context, and is being driven by those who would radically transform and thereby diminish American society.

Stalin may have been a crude mass murderer, but he was cunningly perceptive. He recognized that an important element for the domination of the present is the control of the past. A ruler simply rewrites the past as necessary, airbrushes the pictures, turns persons into non-persons, all in a manner that justifies the agenda, no matter what or how brutal. This is an especially useful tactic if you accept the fantasy that history is necessarily progressive, and that there is "a right side of history" as Barak Obama used to assert.

The American Left has learned Stalin's tactic well. Delegitimize the American past as incurably evil, convince people that there was nothing admirable in American system, fill the textbooks and lectures with the pathological dishonesty of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, and any defense of contemporary American institutions and practices becomes next to impossible for those who don't know better.

If Washington and Jefferson were nothing but slave-owning racists, then why bother with Washington's Farewell Address or the Declaration of Independence? If Hamilton and Madison didn't demand and get the immediate abolition of slavery, then why support the Constitution? Why prolong a constitutional republic when Utopia supposedly is within our grasp? Work within the system to destroy the system as Antonio Gramsci might have put it.

So now the College is going to review the name, Pioneers. Given the herd mentality on campuses, it is not hard to imagine how this review will proceed. It was "alumni" and "friends of the College" who supposedly provided the "feedback" that was the catalyst for this review. Given the proclivities of those who usually generate this sort of "feedback," they will likely represent that same fascistic mindset where the most rabidly political and intolerant set the terms of the discussion.

How long before the halls ring with the usual charges of racism and white supremacy? With the precedents established by the likes of Yale and Princeton for jettisoning the names of some of their institutions, it is not hard to imagine a craven capitulation by this college.

Do the Pioneers deserve to be condemned? When looking at the actual lives and experiences of the Pioneers, the intelligent among us would ask "compared to whom?" or "compared to what society?" Let's begin by quickly putting aside those Rousseau-like fantasies of the American Indian as the noble savage.  Let's ignore that Disney-fied life of Dancing with Wolves.  We should reject those cliches portraying American Indians as pacifistic, proto-Sierra Clubbers.

Lives of American Indians were anything but. (I say American Indians instead of Native Americans because anyone legally born in the United States is a native American, and if the name, American Indian Movement, was good enough for Dennis Means, it is good enough for me.) As Lawrence Keeley demonstrates in his book War Before Civilization, the lives of those Indians were incessantly violent with almost constant intertribal warfare.  This was not war to be fought by the fainthearted, as it was characterized by ambushes, murders, scalping, and the atrocious treatment of prisoners. All this after the horrific initiation ordeals for boys often mandated by the tribe.

At the risk of being banished from any "woke" campus, let me suggest that a way of life with an alphabet, books, libraries, the rule of law, a presumption of innocence, due process, equality before the law, provides a better way to live and prosper than what the American Indians actually experienced in their own societies. Of course, not all pioneers were virtuous nor were their actions always moral. There were real instances of injustice and prejudice.  But again, compared to what and to whom? Where in the world was there immunity from this sort of behavior in the 18th and 19th Centuries? Certainly not in the land controlled by the America Indians.

In 2019 David McCullough published his best-selling book, The Pioneers. By his account, much of the historical material and documentation were provided by the library at Marietta College. McCullough was grateful for this help and publicly complimented the College. The College at that time had no problem celebrating the book and its role in the book's creation. The College created an exhibit on campus to celebrate "the different aspects of the settlement, education, science, and other issues the settlers faced." It told the public that its "staff is really excited about the book."

But that was then, and this is now. In little more than a year, the winds of destructive revisionism are now at gale force, and, as a rule, college administrators are a cowardly bunch. Let's see if Marietta's Pioneers, like a bad TV melodrama, simply get cancelled.

Photo credit: Pixabay (public domain)