The 20th century British philosopher Owen Barfield spoke of “chronological snobbery” – defined as the belief that intellectually, humanity languished for countless generations in the most childish errors on all sorts of crucial subjects, until it was redeemed by some scientific dictum of the last century. ” His friend, the author CS Lewis, first recorded the term in his coming of age book “Surprised by Joy.”
Chronological snobbery crops up in our present cultural chaos quite often: in the tearing down of historical statues, the banning of long-treasured literary works, and many other forms of cancel culture.
The recent mascot change for Waterloo Central Schools drips of this snobbery, an ignorant arrogance that what was once all together good is now suddenly bad. The Waterloo superintendent of schools is quoted as saying, “The issue of racism starting with our mascot in this district impedes our ability to offer a safe and supportive learning environment to all students.”
This sentence is not only untrue, it’s divisive, confusing, misleading, and vague. How did the learning environment become unsafe? Is the superintendent charging that when Waterloo schools first adopted the moniker “Indians” it was so our predecessors could revel in racism? Were our ancestors ridiculing or degrading the natives who once lived here? The answer is, of course, no, they were not. Everyone knows this already, except the young students who we willingly confuse.
The belief, held fervently by our double mask-wearing Orwellian State overlords – that any mention of anything to do with native peoples on our school uniforms is wrong and racist – is an irrational, lazy approach to history. Over a dozen New York counties have native names including our own Seneca County. The names of our beloved Finger Lakes, scores of cities, towns and villages, school districts, rivers and roads all bear native names. Is this wrong? Do we honor them by continuing to use indigenous names as we always have, or are we being racist, because that, of course, is in our nature? Or is it only in innocent school mascots where this ugly racism lies?
It was Sept. 8, 1779, when the 18 longhouses that made up the Cayuga village of Skoi-Yase (regrettable primary school name change hopefully coming soon), situated along the river near our present downtown, were put to torch by Col. John Harper and his men, under orders from Maj. General John Sullivan, himself ordered by Commander in Chief George Washington.
The native inhabitants had fled, and the soldiers burned the empty dwellings along with orchards and cornfields, like they had done dozens of other villages on 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 for independence.
The fact that almost 250 years later, school board members 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 offers peace to no one .
Naming our school mascot a meaningless, random animal name and thumbing our nose at our own strong local heritage in the name of restorative justice is cheap virtue signaling at its finest. And there is no way, had the citizens of Waterloo actually been given a choice to change the name or keep it – a real vote in the matter – would this ever have come to pass. A superintendent from Rochester and her cohort made that decision for us all.
My gripe isn’t about nostalgia, it’s about the fact that we are actively blotting out our own history in a self-congratulatory way which teaches the kids of Waterloo that their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were wrong and racist, which was untrue then and untrue now. We must educate our children about our past, our ancestors, our tradition, and our history.
Northeastern native peoples invented the game of lacrosse almost a millennia ago, and we still play the sport here today, so we tell our kids that they can play the sport natives invented as long as we don’t display who invented the game on their jerseys .
Better to be called a Tiger, an animal with no connection to this land or continent. Perhaps more enlightened future generations will cancel the Tiger name, as we are certainly appropriating South Asian culture, and eradicate lacrosse in school sports programs, because it is not “our” game to play.
The name of 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 nonsensical as all of this. In the incoherent woke religion, the rules are constantly changing and shifting, but one thing is certain, there is no redemption.
It is a peculiarly childlike notion to believe that we somehow make better or improve upon our long tradition by erasing the native people who came here before us to be replaced with a random animal seemingly picked out of a hat.
Make no mistake, the atheistic state regime which pressures school districts to make these silly changes someday will threaten in the same way the schools which do not teach our littlest children that boys can be girls, and girls can be boys, or both, or neither . The soulless state bureaucrat; the snobbish, self-satisfied revisionist sneers at our past and our grandparents with flippant contempt. “Hate has no home here” is their motto. “Hate,” of course, is anything that opposes their warped ideology. Our cultural recovery must start with the little fights, because bigger 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 racist, and everything will be better once we become Tigers, you see.
The first ripplings of that tidal wave are upon us, Tigers.
Ryan Didsbury is a graduate of Waterloo High School Class of 1997. He was a sommelier and wine director in New York City for 15 years and is now a graduate school at City College of New York to become a high school history teacher. He lives in Weston, Connecticut with his wife and young son.