‘Even detractors admit the intentions behind it were respectful’

  • The Mohawk Trail Regional District School Committee will vote May 9 to remove or replace an image of its Native American mascot - a mural on the gymnasium wall - as well as to change its team name and school name. Matt Burkhartt

Published: 5/7/2019 10:17:52 AM

Mohawk High School (dare I still call it Mohawk) has had a Native American painting in its gymnasium since 1978. Even detractors admit the intentions behind it were respectful and not purposefully derogatory. To me, that matters greatly.

As recipients of a message, it is incumbent upon us to try to interpret it as it was intended; it is wrong to deliberately misinterpret it to mean something else. If I tell a woman her dress fits very well, I could be complementing her, or, alternately, implying she is overweight. Which applies depends on context. Likewise, we cannot construe a recording of Martin Luther King Jr. referring to African Americans as “Negroes,” the same as we would if that word were used by a white supremacist today. What we say, or paint, is less important than what we mean.

Shamefully, some have compared this painting to “Jim Crowe” oppression. Sorry to ruin your drama, but there is absolutely no comparing an innocently drawn Indian picture to human beings being lynched by mobs of hooded thugs. A preposterous statement was made that Native Americans are the only group featured in mascots. What about the Boston Celtics or Minnesota Vikings? Finally, Sen. Jo Comerford would do well to read the 14th Amendment before further pursuing her unconstitutional proposal that singles out one group alone for cultural exclusion, sorry, “protection”.

Real world human interactions depend heavily upon our ability to read context correctly. Transforming our schools into sterile environments, devoid of anything that might upset anyone, where everything is unambiguously defined and students are shielded from having to use judgment and critical thinking to ascertain meaning, undermines the educational process. So too does destroying a class gift, (or the flag), because it offends a few. Who will want to donate art to Mohawk going forward?

Hussain A. Hamdan

Hawley


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