Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Moment of Silence for Chief Illiniwek

So the Chief is no more.

Will this be like what happened when we stopped saying public prayers, so as not to offend the people who believe prayers with words are so much hokum? Will we all stand for a moment of silence for the Chief, envisioning his glorious tribute to those who came before, in all its imperfection?

When the moment passes, will we shift our feet and glance awkwardly, until someone breaks the silence with an even more awkward cheer?

Welcome to the Brave New Illinois. Oh, did I say "brave"? Sorry, that wasn't meant to be a racist snipe at native American traditions. It was meant to invoke Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", in a creative interpretation. I thought I'd better explain, so no one called me bigot for creativity's sake. What's that, my intent doesn't matter, only the imagined offense matters? How could I have been so insensitive? Let's hold a moment of silence for my insensitivity and lack of real writing skill.

[Awkward moment of silence goes here]

My land, that was awkward.

Y'know what I hope they do? I hope the entire marching band takes the field to do an interpretive dance of their own choosing. Something they each feel is appropriate, as individuals. It would be an artistic thing. Something creative.

Now if one of them just happened to do a dance that contained certain elements invoking the memory of a certain Native civilization that used to occupy this area, who could be against that?

In fact, if every one of them spontaneously broke out in glorious tribute to those fallen at Starved Rock, or took up the warpath against the hated Iroquois coming from the East, who could consider their art to offend? What kind of University would crush the creativity of young thinkers that way? Why, one of them could be the next Salvador Dali or Maya Angelou.

And being trained in the ways of close order drill, in parts they probably would do the same dance, seemingly choreographed. They might even take the next few months to make their own interpretive band uniforms. Marching regalia, you might say.

But instead, we'll have yet another moment of silence, as the world marches inexorably into the grey fog of symbolic correctness. It will be just as awkward as the other moments of silence, and just as inspirational.

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