Racism at the Yale Bowl? Hardly

Dartmouth and Yale have been playing football against one another for a long time. Last Saturday, when they played at the Yale Bowl, was the 100th meeting of the teams. (Yale broke a four-game losing streak with a 21-13 victory.) Given that long history, someone at Yale thought it would be fun to produce a program that featured a collection of vintage programs from past years. This is what it looked like:


Until the political correctness movement took over college campuses a few decades ago, Dartmouth teams were known as the Indians. This was appropriate, as Dartmouth was founded in the 18th century as a school for Indian youth. Nowadays, Dartmouth is just a color–the Big Green. Yale has always been the Bulldogs. So the vintage program covers included, among other things, some cartoon images of Bulldogs defeating Indians.

In today’s fun-free college world, that was beyond the pale. The Association of Native Americans at Yale protested.

The Association of Native Americans at Yale condemns the production and circulation of racist images of Native peoples used to commemorate the 100th football game between Dartmouth and Yale on October 8, 2016. The Yale-Dartmouth football game program degrades the Yale Native community, the Dartmouth Native community, and Native communities across Turtle Island.

“Turtle Island” is said to be a name for North America among some Indian tribes.

The program features the former mascot of Dartmouth College, which is officially no longer in use due to the racist stereotypes it perpetuates. Studies show the damaging effects of such images on Native peoples and young people of all races.

“Studies.” What would we do without them? As Indian mascots have gone out of existence, the only tangible effect has been the increasing invisibility of Native Americans, for most of whom Indian symbols were a source of pride.

The offending Indian images in the programs are of course cartoons, but the other characters–the bulldogs and the white Yale football players–are cartoons too. They are not depicted in a notably more favorable manner than the Indians, but for the fact that Yale is seen as winning. The opposite was true, of course, with Dartmouth’s football programs of the same eras, in which the Indians came out on top:


Is this a racist depiction of a white person? If not, why are the Indian cartoons racist?

Needless to say, Yale immediately capitulated and apologized for producing a “racist” football program. So the Association of Native Americans took another scalp. (Just kidding.)

It’s a funny thing: left-wing institutions like Yale rarely if ever defend themselves, and seemingly are always eager to plead guilty to racism. So why is it, as Glenn Reynolds likes to ask, that liberal institutions are such hotbeds of racism? Or are the guilty pleas insincere, and is something entirely different going on?

That’s a complicated question, but here is a simple observation: it would have been a heck of a lot more fun to be a student at Yale in the 1930s, 40s or 50s than to be a student there today.

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