The Braves might not use ‘screaming savage’ on batting practice caps after all

David Brown
Big League Stew

A public-relations backlash against the Atlanta Braves reportedly has them reconsidering using the "screaming savage" Native American caricature on their batting practice caps for 2013.

Paul Lukas of ESPN's Uniwatch, which recently broke what should have been a fun story about new designs on batting practice caps across the major leagues, says he hears "through the grapevine" that the Braves might switch to a different design because of negative feedback:

If that happens, expect MLB to issue lots of revisionist-history talking points about how the Indian design was just “one option we were exploring” and that it was “in development but never finalized” and that the Braves simply “opted to go in another direction” or some such.

Don't believe it for a second, Lukas writes. The Braves, against all reason in this age, were actually going to put that logo back on their caps after a 24-year absence. As The Stew has pointed out in previous posts on this issue and related ones, there have been worse, more demeaning caricatures of Native Americans used in Major League Baseball. But that doesn't mean the Braves should go backward and use another logo simply because it has cleaner lines.

[Also: Wade Boggs has plans for 'Field of Dreams' site]

What's interesting to note about the discussion that followed last week when the "screaming savage" resurfaced: The arguments for the logo tended to be angrier than the ones against. These complainers were a loud class of folks seemingly ignorant — perhaps willfully so — of this country's genocidal history against Native Americans. They weren't racist (mind you), yet they wanted their racist logo (by golly) because "liberal political correctness" has run amok (!) and the First Amendment. And who were we to deprive them of their rights?

Others weren't so much racist as clueless. "I don't see what's so racist about that image. It looks dignified to me." OK, so I might have even been one of these people at one time. But then my critical thinking skills developed, and I started to see how savage imagery, even that it is wrapped up in a "more dignified" package, is still a caricature. And wrong.

There were other arguments: "I'm Irish and I don't complain about Notre Dame's 'Fighting' nickname or leprechaun logo." Well, I wouldn't complain either. Comparing the treatment of the Irish in America with that of — say — the Cherokee nation, does a disservice to any reasonable discussion.

Others complain that, to like the logo for the NHL's Blackhawks, while ripping — say — Chief Wahoo — is hypocritical. Perhaps so. But if you read this about how the Blackhawks came to be named and how their logo came into existence ... Or maybe that's still paradoxical, even hypocritical. That doesn't mean the reply should be "more, meaner caricatures."

The only reason to revive "the screaming savage" is because people would buy it. And there apparently some people who would. But the Braves don't need money that badly.

They don't need this logo, either. Not when the arguments in favor are empty.

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