How the Mascot Issue Got Drowned in the Bathtub and We Missed the Colbert Bump

How the Mascot Issue Got Drowned in the Bathtub by Thomas Pearce

For decades the American Indian Movement, the United Church of Christ, and the National Congress of American Indians have used displays like the one below to show the public how we feel about the Mascot issue. Recently Steven Colbert was taken to task for making the same comparison to shame the Washington Franchise.

Display put together by the National Congress of American Indians making same point as Colbert

Display put together by the National Congress of American Indians making same point as Colbert


So what is this all about? Steven Colbert said this about Dan Snyder’s new horribly offensive nonprofit the ” Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”

““Folks, this move by Dan Snyder inspires me, because my show has frequently come under attack for having a so-called offensive mascot, my beloved character Ching Chong Ding Dong….Offensive or not — NOT — Ching Chong is part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change. But I’m willing to show the Asian community that I care by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitive to Orientals or Whatever….I owe all this sensitivity to Redskins owner Dan Snyder. So Asians, send your thank-you letters to him, not me.”


Suey Park a young activist in the Asian American community took issue. So now in 2014 Suey Park is demanding a stop to caricaturing on her people’s behalf. It might ring true, might, if she had bothered to join us in our call for an end to racist mascots from the beginning. As of yet I have not seen her comment ( until on Thursday 4/3/14., long after she first responsded) on the mascot issue. Her silence on this along with her budding online friendship with Michelle Malkin tells me that I smell a rat and it smells like right wing crap to me.

From all we have seen she didn’t post a comment anywhere saying she was against racist mascots until early Thursday evening 4/3/14, on her Facebook page. It should have been front and center one of her main points from the beginning. Let us me clear, I  do not agree with or condone statements against her that have been full of hatred, sexism, and racism. I am not saying she should not have expressed her opposition. I am saying she should have done it in a way that said more than “Cancel Colbert”.  She told Salon that she never intended to cancel Colbert and that she was a fan. I am saying the message is garbled and unclear and seems to have served Dan Snyder and the Washington Franchise more than anyone.

Let me get this right, churches have drawn the comparison, the National Congress of American Indians have drawn the comparison and somehow when the issue gets the spotlight on a national TV show that lampoons the racist behavior of Dan Snyder, the R*DSK*NS owner. Now it’s gone over the line?

What is fascinating, is that, I have watched while Ms. Suey Park, who claims revolutionary bona fides, is cozying up to Japanese internment camp apologist and right wing hack Michele Malkin – and she seems to be getting away with it. Well she is famous now. Hope she is happy. She could have stood with American Indians challenging mascots, but this seemed to pay more. The craziest thing is when Colbert announced after Park’s calling for his firing, he would be sending any money sent to him be donated to Snyder’s racist charity? Park nor anyone else said anything. I have watched while she has floated pay pal accounts to raise funds for several pet causes. She knows how to work the internet, that is for sure.

There is obviously racism going on in this country against Asian Americans, there is obviously racism against Indigenous people. The absolutely stupefying thing that comes out of this issue is how the Mascot issue stays for the most part invisible and how a mere skit could trigger this avalanche of anger.

Several Asian American writers like Greg Watanabe have gotten it right in their writing in this.

In his article “Why Suey Park got it Wrong” Greg states: “There are a couple of different things I find problematic with this. One, I think that one can make a point about anti-Native American racism using an example of anti-Asian racism. It’s not the entirety of the argument, not the fundamental crux of the argument of why anti-Native American racism is fucked up, but a point can be made.”

Vernon Bellecourt, former American Indian Movement leader, always said: “if the Irish want to have a protest against the Notre Dame Leprechaun, we will be there. If the Norwegian people want to have a protest against the “Vikings,” we will be there, we just ask American’s to leave us out of their fun and games.” So I wonder will Suey Park be at the next protest against the Washington franchise? or the Cleveland franchise? I hope so. If not I find her hell raising over Colbert’s skit to be a hollow horn of a counter revolutionary who saddles up next to fascists like Michele Malkin.

In my life time there is only one time I have disagreed with someone claiming to be the aggrieved party  to a racist insult. This is the one time. I do not disagree with her screaming “That Shit is Wrong!”. I disagree with her failing to stand in solidarity with American Indians when the issue of racist mascots was briefly and fleetingly in the lime light. She has a great opportunity to be someone building a bridge between indigenous people and the Asian American diaspora in this country. It seems to be an opportunity missed.

It is fascinating that no one has ever called the United Church of Christ, the National Congress of American Indians, nor the American Indian Movement racist for making the comparison that Colbert did. We have printed posters with caricatures that portrayed Chicano, Asian, Jewish, and African mascots with the tag line “How would you feel”.  The late AIM leader Michael Haney once dressed as a Klansman at an Atlanta Braves game and was quoted as saying “why don’t you change your mascot to the Georgia Klansmen”? Some found it offensive, no one called Mike racist.

Neither Suey Park, nor Michelle Malkin, nor anyone else has ever called us racist for this. The timing of her reaction almost seems to be too good for Dan Snyder to be coincidental. It seems maybe someone like Dan Snyder may be behind this. It is very interesting. It seems Dan Snyder and the R$dsk*ins have found a human shield in Suey Park.

Thomas Pearce is Co-Chair of the American Indian Movement Indiana and Kentucky




1 Comment

  1. I agree with every statement in this article! Colbert was making a bigger point about racism by using Asians as an example. Somehow the bigger message got lost in “social media activism.”

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