IN CONSERVATIVE CIRCLES, I’ve taken much heat about having grown up in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts—home of Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Michael Dukakis, and so on.
Fortunately, I’ve always had a handy, unassailable response to the would-be Bay State bashers. Sure, the Commonwealth’s political present is pathetic, but its past is glorious. It’s the birthplace of American freedom, the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere. As a child, my family lived in Lexington, site of the shot heard ‘round the world, where patriots paid the price in blood on the Battle Green so that ours may be a free country today.
Just look at the Massachusetts statehood quarter. Its centerpiece isn’t some bird, plant, or rock formation. It’s the Minuteman, defender of American liberty, the hero who fought British rule, taxes, and meddlesome government—all with his own gun. Growing up, my hometown had a statue of militia commander John Parker in its town center, a proud reminder of a proud legacy. And since 1972, the Minuteman has been the mascot of the state university, the University of Massachusetts.
Only now, officials at UMass, ashamed or embarrassed by their own history, want to do away with the Minuteman altogether. The university has paid Phoenix Design Works of New York City $10,000 to come up with a new mascot, one more friendly to modern-day sensitivities. The symbol of heroic men who once stood tall against colonialist tyranny now risks falling to an ideology that disdains anything of military, patriotic, or historic significance.
The leading contender to replace the Minuteman is, appallingly, the gray wolf, a choice that might sit well with the state’s nature-worshipping set, but whose history in the Bay State is, to say the least, far less notable than the Minuteman’s. According to Frank Sousa, outdoors writer for the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, "The last gray wolf sighting around here was in the late 1890s, in a barrel outside Thompson’s Clothing Store in Amherst after being shot in Northampton. And those were skinned."
For the leftists, four-legged victims beat two-legged heroes any day.
The ostensible reason for the mascot-switch, says UMass athletic director Ian McCaw, isn’t political correctness, but economics. The Minuteman, apparently, just doesn’t sell well on t-shirts, license-plate frames, shot glasses and the other sort of paraphernalia that help subsidize the financial excesses of modern-day academia. Even some of the university’s own students don’t know who he is, university officials admit (a shocking indictment of the state of public higher education in Massachusetts), and noble human beings are no match for wild dogs when it comes to UMass-marketing.
But there are plenty of colleges with human mascots that seem to do just fine in the marketing department—think Orangemen, Cornhuskers, Mountaineers, Trojans, etc. It’s not the Minuteman’s humanity that keeps people from buying UMass paraphernalia, it’s the pathetic state of UMass athletics. The Associated Press reports that back in the early 1990s, when the university’s men’s basketball and football teams were nationally ranked, annual souvenir sales totaled $400,000. Since them, as the teams’ performances have dropped, so have revenues, to a meager $100,000.
The economics argument is just a smokescreen for the real reason for the attack on the Minuteman—PC at its inane, destructive worst. "The Minuteman is a male," McCaw explains. "There is the gender issue, and the ethnicity. Some have brought up the appropriateness of firearms."
That’s why UMass officials want to bury the Minuteman and replace him with some mangy mutt. That’s why they’ve already all but banished him from their official logos, and why, save for a few dumb items, his likeness is nowhere to be found anywhere on the athletic department’s official souvenir website.
The problem with Minutemen—ordinary family men, who risked it all for our liberty—is that they were of the wrong gender, the wrong race, and they used guns. If only they could have been a little more, well, sensitive. If only they had taken mothers away from their children to serve in battle! If only the militia had demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity! If only the troops had pelted British Redcoats with bean bags instead of blasting them with muskets—then we could honor and celebrate their sacrifice and bravery!
Alas, the Minuteman is destined for the historical ash heap because he comes from that class the left despises most: dead white males. To the leftist mind, celebrating the achievement of DWMs, even if those achievements are critical to the freedoms we enjoy today, would be too insensitive to everyone else. Minorities, women, and nonviolent types just can’t identify with the Minuteman the way they can with, um, a gray wolf.
The religion of the American left is anti-Americanism, so pious leftists avoid any admission that America has ever done anything worthwhile or good. For the left, ideology trumps everything. It trumps history. It trumps patriotism. It trumps honoring those who fought and died so that leftists might have the freedom to spit on their graves.
As long as that’s the attitude at UMass, university officials should go ahead and drop the Minuteman. They don’t deserve him.
UPDATE: UMass has decided to keep the Minuteman as their mascot.