In the latest Washington State example of political correctness run amok, the prestigious liberal arts-focused Whitman College in Walla Walla is removing its “Fighting Missionaries” mascot after a committee ruled the mascot is “divisive” and “imperialistic.”
The college, founded as a seminary and named after missionary/physician Marcus Whitman and his wife, sent a recent notice to alumni outlining the Mascot Working Group’s report, which states that the mascot is “offensive to many members of the Whitman community because it can be interpreted as honoring the imperialistic policies and actions of the western movement in North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries.”
The report also states that the mascot “implies an inappropriate relationship with the Christian church and is misleading to those not familiar with the college.” Additionally, “members of the college administration indicate that, in some cases, this has been a problem in attracting highly qualified potential applicants.”
Not only is that reasoning insulting to alumni and current students – presumably they only got accepted to the school because more “highly qualified potential applicants” were scared away by what it might mean to become Fighting Missionaries – it’s a highly flawed excuse for why (according to administrators) the school isn’t attracting the kind of applicants they want. You see, the fact that Harvard’s mascot is “John Harvard, the Pilgrim” (a clergyman) does not seem to hold it back from attracting “highly qualified” applicants.
The Whitman student newspaper, The Pioneer, announced plans to change its name for similar reasons. Its student leaders explained their reasoning this way: “At the time the paper was founded, the college was in the midst of reinforcing a telling of history that celebrated the arrival of white invaders — pioneers — to the Columbia Plateau.”
It’s unclear why, due to the college’s liberal-addled reasoning for changing the mascot and newspaper identities, the school does not go the full mile and completely change its name. Given the senseless reasoning to which the school’s administration now adheres, we have a feeling the Whitmans might not want their legacy associated with the college any more than some members of the college’s current community want to be associated with “missionaries” who gave their lives carrying out their mission.