Ole Miss Students should look to Vermont for Answers

 

Ole Miss Colonel Reb (left) was the inspiration VERMONT'S for Brattleboro Union High School (right)

 

Deadspin.com recently published an article entitled:

“The Ugly, Racially Charged fight Over a Confederate Mascot. In Vermont”.   Apparently fights over mascots aren’t limited to the South. Some of them are the result of Northerners appreciation of Southern culture. As Deadspin.com reports:

My small Vermont hometown has made the national news circuit on just a handful of occasions since I was a kid: the Bush-Cheney arrest warrant, the public nudity ban, the closing of the nuclear power plant, the annual cow parade, and the time my high school retired Colonel Reb as our mascot.

He wasn’t called Colonel Reb, of course. He was just “the Colonel.” Save for a purple-and-white color scheme, he was identical in every way to Ole Miss’s mascot. The Colonel had been around since the 1950s, when, as the story goes, Brattleboro Union High School’s student council randomly chose Colonel Reb out of a mail-order mascot catalog. To some degree, it was a sensible choice. Brattleboro is, after all, named after Colonel William Brattle, an old white guy who owned lots of land. What’s more, our playing fields had once hosted Vermont soldiers—Union solders—as they prepared for the Civil War. I doubt anyone at the time recognized it as a caricature of a Confederate plantation owner or questioned whether it was a paradoxical choice for the state that was the first in the Union to abolish slavery. It’s unlikely anyone even made a connection to Ole Miss. The Colonel was just a sketch in a book”

The author of the article makes a very good point when he points out that the fight over mascots isn’t a North/ South struggle, it is more of a Left / Right battle. Stating that:

“Vermont’s politics only really shifted dramatically to the left in the 1990s, with an influx of liberal urban expats like my parents, and now we have the nation’s only socialist senator. To generalize just a bit, this created a political tension in Brattleboro between the children of multi-generational Vermonters—with kids whose parents and grandparents competed as Colonels—and the new Boomer-spawned kids and their ultra-sensitive parents. That tension, along with a general ignorance of historical and geographical context, because this was about here and now and only us, informed the circuitous debate on the removal of the 50-year-old Brattleboro Colonel.”

So what should the students and alumni at Ole Miss who want to preserve their heritage do? Look to Vermont!  As the author of the article points out, the PC police might have taken their mascot but not their traditions…

It’s not because of a mascot, and it never was. The old Colonel didn’t bring intolerance from Oxford to Brattleboro—it was with us all along. It’s easy to ridicule Ole Miss and all that desperate clinging to outdated tradition, but racial resentment isn’t exclusive to the South and its symbols. It was certainly there in a corner of Vermont, just waiting for the right provocation—an influx of outsiders like my parents, a threat to a cherished tradition—before it could come bubbling to the surface.

My younger brother graduated from Brattleboro Union last spring. There were Confederate flags in the parking lot. Reb the mascot was long gone, but the Reb within lives on.”

So to the students and alumni at Ole Miss I say this, racism wasn’t exclusive to the South, it was as bad if not worse in the North, and wasn’t the inspiration of  the Colonel in the North or the South.  Don’t furl those flags. Fly them with pride, even if it is in the parking lot.- Webmaster

Related:

http://deadspin.com/5663951/why-did-ole-miss-pick-a-louisiana-black-bear-as-their-new-mascot

 

 

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