Horse manure: USC Mascot in the gun sights of the history scrubbers
The website Vice has suggested we blow up Mount Rushmore. Protesters in New York demanded the statue of Teddy Roosevelt be taken down from in front of the Metropolitian Library. There have been demands that we remove the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. There have been calls to change the names of schools, towns, cities, and tourist attractions. Any and all mentions of confederate generals and politicians will be erased from the public consciousness because, racism.
Pretty silly, huh? But if you want 100%, dyed in the wool, out of this world silly, how about activists at the University of Southern California who tried to connect the beloved and stirring mascot of the school - the white steed "Traveler" - with the horse rode by General Robert E. Lee, who he named "Traveller."
"Traveler"..."Traveller" - why let an "L" get in the way of a good racialist theme?
At the rally, according to the student newspaper the Daily Trojan, Saphia Jackson, co-director of the USC Black Student Assembly, asked students not to be quiet, and reminded that “white supremacy hits close to home” and referenced the name of the Trojans mascot.
The Black Student Assembly did not respond to requests for comment, but questions about the name’s provenance have increased on social media in the midst of the national discussion on race.
The current USC mascot is known as Traveler VII, being the 7th version of a horse purchased in 1958. The widow of the originator of the Traveler mascot seemed bored with the whole controversy:
Saukko died in 1992, but his widow wasn’t surprised when a reporter called Friday.
“The problem is this: maybe three weeks ago it was fine,” Pat Saukko DeBernardi said. “So now the flavor of the day is . . . we all have to be in hysteria. . . . It’s more of a political issue. The horse isn’t political and neither am I.”
She noted that the name of Lee’s well-known horse included an extra “l” and, besides, Traveler was already named when her late husband purchased him for $5,000 in 1958, half the asking price. The horse was a fixture in movies like “Snowfire” and “The Ballad of a Gunfighter.”
“He was a movie horse and he turned mean,” Richard Saukko once told The Times. “That’s how I got him so cheap. A few months later, he’d become so gentle again, people wouldn’t believe it was the same horse.
USC officials spotted Saukko, a salesman from Sunland, riding Traveler during the Rose Parade in 1961. Three days before football season started that fall, they asked him to perform. He used Charlton Heston’s leftover costumes from “Ben Hur” to assemble a Trojan warrior outfit — though the armor bruised his arms.
A USC spokesman pointed to a history of Traveler on USC’s website when asked about the name’s origin.
“USC’s mascot horse is a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior,” the final paragraph said. “The name Traveler, spelled with one ‘l,’ is a common name among horses. . . . USC’s Traveler is and has always been a proud symbol of Troy. There is no truth to any other claims or rumors about its name.”
But the LA Times won't let the issue go:
But the name isn’t that common. According to Equibase, a leading source of horse racing statistics, there have been only three registered thoroughbreds named Traveler in the U.S. since 1945. Only two quarter horses have been registered with the name. Another site, which tracks pet names, doesn’t rank Traveler in the top 100 most popular names for horses.
The earliest mention of a connection between Lee and USC’s Traveler appears to have come in Saukko’s four-paragraph obituary in The Times.
“Saukko's first horse was half Arabian, half Tennessee walker and was named Traveler I, after the horse of Civil War general Robert E. Lee,” the story said.
The detail wasn’t attributed to a source and the obituary didn’t carry a byline.
An Associated Press story in 2005 described the similarity to the name of Lee’s horse as “merely coincidental,” but, again, didn’t attribute the information.
Did Saukko think to himself, "I think I'll name my horse after a racist general fighting for a regime that countenanced the buying and selling of human beings"? Or perhaps he read somewhere of Lee's great affection for horses and that he was considered one of the finest horsemen in America in his youth. Or perhaps he never heard that and simply came up with a nice name for a horse.
The point is very simple - so simple that even the simpleminded nitwit activists at USC can understand it. Traveler is a horse. How he got his name is irrelevant. Even if the original owner was inspired to name him after Lee's horse, he wasn't making a statement about white supremacy or racism.
And that's what really matters. Meaning and context are fast disappearing as liberal activists substitute their own meaning, their own context for no other reason than to score political points. The USC activists who want to make the name of the school's mascot a racial issue are only the extreme example of this lunacy.
Charges of "racism" and "white supremacy" are thrown about with little care, their definitions and meaning changing regularly. In fact, the definition of "racism" is entirely in the eye of the liberal activist beholder. The ever changing definition of "racist" means that anything you might say or do that racial activists don't much like, you can be tarred with the smear of "racist."
Needless to say, this makes it impossible to talk abour race or politics with many liberals. It would be like talking to someone who speaks a different language. How can we communicate if we don't agree that there are accepted definitions of words in general usage that both sides in a conversation can acknowledge?
As a Notre Dame football fan, everytime I see that damn horse riding up and down the field after a touchdown I want to strangle it. But I will defend the nag's name to the last.