The 20th century British philosopher Owen Barfield spoke of “chronological snobbery” – defined as the belief that “intellectually, mankind languishes for countless generations in the most puerile errors on all sorts of crucial subjects, until may she be redeemed by a scientific saying of the last century.” Her friend, author C. S. Lewis, first recorded the term in his coming-of-age book “Surprised by Joy”.
Chronological snobbery crops up quite often in our current cultural chaos: in the destruction of historic statues, the banning of long-running literary works, and many other forms of cancel culture.
The recent mascot change for Waterloo Central Schools is dripping with this snobbery, an ignorant arrogance that what was once good is now suddenly bad. The Superintendent of Waterloo Schools reportedly said: ‘The problem of racism that begins with our mascot in this district hampers our ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all students.’
This sentence is not only wrong, it is divisive, confusing, misleading and vague. How did the learning environment become dangerous? Does the Superintendent charge that when Waterloo schools first adopted the nickname “Indians” it was so that our predecessors could revel in racism? Did our ancestors ridicule or degrade the natives who once lived here? The answer is, of course, no, they weren’t. Everyone already knows this, except young students who are easily confused.
The belief, fervently held by our double-masked Orwellian state lords – that any mention of anything to do with Indigenous peoples on our school uniforms is false and racist – is an irrational and lazy approach to the ‘story. More than a dozen counties in New York have native names, including our own county of Seneca. The names of our beloved Finger Lakes, dozens of towns and villages, school districts, rivers and roads all bear Native names. Is it wrong? Do we honor them by continuing to use indigenous names as we always have, or are we being racist, because of course it is in our nature? Or is it only in the innocent school mascots that this horrible racism resides?
It was September 8, 1779, when the 18 longhouses that made up the Cayuga village of Skoi-Yase (regrettable primary school renaming, hopefully soon), located along the river near our center- present city, were set on fire by Colonel John Harper and his men, under the orders of Major General John Sullivan, himself commanded by Commander-in-Chief George Washington.
The native inhabitants had fled and soldiers burned empty homes as well as orchards and cornfields, as they had done in dozens of other villages during this brutal campaign. Washington ordered this because we were at war and the Cayugas and other members of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy had sided with the British in our nation’s War of Independence.
The fact that almost 250 years later, the members of the school board have decided that the children and all citizens of Waterloo can no longer proudly call themselves “Indians” as we have done for a century, does nothing, changes nothing and does not offer peace to anyone.
Naming our school mascot by a random, meaningless animal name and thumbing our noses at our strong local heritage in the name of restorative justice is a cheap virtue that signals the best. And there’s no way, if the citizens of Waterloo had indeed had the choice of changing the name or keeping it – a real vote on the matter – would that ever have happened. A superintendent from Rochester and his cohort made that decision for all of us.
My gripe isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about the fact that we’re actively erasing our own history in a self-congratulatory way that teaches the children of Waterloo that their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were wrong and were racists, which was wrong then and wrong now. We must educate our children about our past, our ancestors, our tradition and our history.
The aboriginal peoples of the northeast invented the game of lacrosse almost a millennium ago, and we still play the sport here today, so we tell our children that they can play the sport invented by the natives until we post who invented the game on their jerseys. .
Better to be called Tiger, an animal with no connection to this land or continent. Perhaps more enlightened future generations will cancel the name Tiger, as we certainly appropriate South Asian culture, and eradicate lacrosse from school sports programs, as it is not “our” game to play.
The name Waterloo itself, come to think of it, is problematic, rooted in violence and bloodshed, as it is named after the Napoleonic battle. The current mascot name change is as absurd as all that. In the incoherent awakened religion, the rules are constantly changing and changing, but one thing is certain, there is no redemption.
It’s a particularly childish notion to believe that we’re somehow improving or enhancing our long tradition by erasing the natives who came here before us only to be replaced by a seemingly random animal picked from a hat.
Don’t get me wrong, the atheist state regime that pressures school districts to make these stupid changes one day will similarly threaten schools that don’t teach our youngest children that boys can be girls and that girls can be boys, or both, or neither. . The soulless state bureaucrat; the snobby, self-satisfied revisionist mocks our past and our grandparents with flippant disdain. “Hate has no place here” is their motto. “Hate,” of course, is anything that opposes their warped ideology. Our cultural recovery must begin with small struggles, for greater things are to come. The state believes it is its job, not the family, to instill a secularized, watered down version of morality in our children. They tell us that we are wrong and that we are racist, and everything will be better once we become Tigers, you see.
The first ripples of this tidal wave are upon us, Tigers.
Ryan Didsbury is a graduate of the Waterloo High School Class of 1997. He was a sommelier and wine manager in New York City for 15 years and is now studying at the City College of New York to become a high school history teacher. He lives in Weston, Connecticut with his wife and young son.