I checked out on this year’s baseball season due to wokeness on the part of Major League Baseball (moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta) and the Minnesota Twins. I paid virtually no attention to baseball all year, but haven’t been able to resist tuning in on the World Series.
I had no clear favorite. I like the Astros, in part because one of their biggest stars, Jose Altuve, is shorter than I am and is, nevertheless, a power hitter. But I decided to root for the Braves on account of their mistreatment by MLB and the fact that former Twin Eddie Rosario now plays for them. Also, I like the Tomahawk Chop. I think it is fun to see an entire stadium of baseball fans chanting and chopping in unison.
Of course, not everyone agrees. Sportswriters across the country are denouncing the Chop as “racist.” And when President Trump attended Saturday night’s game, and he and Melania chopped along with the crowd, liberal heads exploded.
But why, exactly, is the Tomahawk Chop racist? The Chop and the chant obviously embody an Indian reference, consistent with the fact that the team is called the Braves and a tomahawk features prominently in their logo. But so what? Some might say it constitutes cultural appropriation, but cultural appropriation is usually a good thing.
The Minnesota Vikings–my home team, unfortunately–have a “Skol” cheer. I think it is pretty dumb, but fans dutifully yell “Skol!” when prompted. Also, a guy dressed up as a Viking blows a big horn. Is the “Skol” cheer racist? If not, why not? The cheer, along with the big horn blown by a guy wearing a stereotypical but historically inaccurate Viking helmet, are another instance of cultural appropriation, consistent with the team’s name and logo.
But so what? While I don’t think much of the “Skol” cheer, I also don’t think it is “racist.” And neither is the Tomahawk Chop. The fact that sportswriters get their undies in a bunch over the latter, but not the former, tells us more about them than about the two teams, their team names, and their fans. And if Jane Fonda can do the Tomahawk Chop, so can Donald Trump.
Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments.