January 11, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Check Hypocrisy at the Door

by Dane DeKrey/Staff Writer

Hypocrisy is everywhere these days. In pop culture, it's Donald Trump playing judge, jury, and executioner of ethics and morality. In politics, it's former Congressman Mark Foley chairing the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. In sports, it's T.O. opening his mouth. It's the fart in the room that nobody wants to claim, and until someone opens a window, it seems it's staying stinkily put.

It's no different at the University of North Dakota, especially when discussing the ever-problematic and ever-controversial 'Fighting Sioux' nickname. Three specific instances of blatant hypocrisy have emerged in the course of the whole mess that makes one question the merits of the circumstances at hand, leaving one to wonder — is the juice of keeping the nickname worth the squeeze?

First, shame on Dartmouth, specifically its overzealous athletic director, for its sudden epiphany regarding 'hostile and abusive' nicknames.

Said Dartmouth AD, Josie Harper, in the campus newspaper, "Let me state clearly that UND's position is offensive and wrong. When we scheduled UND nearly two years ago to participate in our tournament, we did so without considering their team's nickname and symbol. Perhaps we should have, but I deeply regret that we didn't." What a load of garbage. Dartmouth was well aware of UND's nickname long before it took this hypocritical stance, why now are they just realizing the hostility and abusiveness of the nickname?

Further, if they so deeply regret inviting UND to compete in its holiday tournament, and if Harper is such a champion of human rights as her comments make her out to be, why not withdraw UND's invitation? Perhaps because inviting a powerhouse such as UND guarantees a large draw for the school and God forbid Dartmouth sacrifice a sure jackpot in the name of political correctness.

The fact that Dartmouth spoke out against UND's nickname conveniently after the NCAA got the ball rolling, makes the entire university look silly. Either be for or against the nickname from the beginning; Dartmouth played the 'we regret' card and got overwhelmingly trumped by the 'hypocrite' one.

Next, shame on the NCAA for its selectivity in what constitutes a 'hostile and abusive' nickname. After mandating the original 20 schools to change nicknames, the NCAA then buckled from its unwavering stance, allowing three — Central Michigan, Florida State, and the University of Utah — to keep their nicknames and mascots, due to side bargaining done by the schools and respective tribes. But simply because such agreements were reached does not mean such nicknames are no longer 'hostile and abusive' by NCAA standards.

Whether or not the tribes support the use of such nicknames and mascots is irrelevant; if the NCAA is so committed to stamping out 'hostile and abusive' nicknames and mascots from collegiate athletics, then it should stand by its mandate for all schools in violation, no exceptions. Such glaring hypocrisy that, given the right price, a nickname is no longer 'hostile and abusive', is a black eye for Myles Brand and company.

Worse, the variance in support and opposition by the Native American community chips away at the validity of the harmfulness of using such nicknames and mascots, for if it is so bad, shouldn't it be for all tribes, not just some?

Finally, shame on UND President Charles Kupchella if he flip-flopped his opinion on the matter. It seems Kupchella, much like the NCAA and Dartmouth, succumbed to the pressures of the almighty dollar, allowing it to dictate and manipulate his stance. Long before the NCAA mandated a nickname change at UND, Kupchella was well in the works of sewing the seeds of change.

It wasn't until the deep pockets of Vegas tycoon, Ralph Engelstad, whose cowboy-diplomacy produced an 'all-or-nothing' ultimatum for the University, that Kupchella's feelings on the matter suddenly changed in favor of nickname preservation (though these facts are in constant dispute). Kupchella has since cemented his stance by stepping out onto the slippery slope of martyrdom, as he, alongside North Dakota Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem, have taken preliminary steps in suing the NCAA.

Such quick changing of teams by Kupchella makes it hard to swallow any of his rhetoric, as one must question the altruism behind his desire to preserve the 'Fighting Sioux' nickname — is it out of respect for Native Americans or the REA?

While I have my own beliefs on the issue and the way in which UND is currently dealing with it, I feel I have neither the ability nor authority to render an opinion that is sensitive and fair to all parties concerned.

What I do believe, however, is that personal feelings aside, everyone involved in this discussion must be able to distinguish and vilify hypocrisy of all forms, for it is simply another unnecessary and unwanted monkey wrench thrown into an already cluttered mess. Whether you're pro or anti-nickname, we must all be anti-hypocrisy.

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