Discourse / Letters / October 28, 2015

Letter to the editor: Old Siwash and the Taliban

Last week I and 105 other classmates set a record attending our 50th college reunion at good “Old Siwash.” Although aware of the athletic name change to the Prairie Fire in the early to mid-1990s, many of us were dismayed with the front page article in The Knox Student entitled “Knox Confronts Siwash” and the article on page nine entitled “Alumni Shouldn’t Stand for Siwash.” What was especially disturbing was a freshman with two months standing attempting to eradicate any presence of Old Siwash at Knox by encouraging alumni to trade in their Siwash gear.

The article did encourage dialogue between current students and alumni. I immediately had a flashback to Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, when he plead with the Taliban’s foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, in Islamabad to save Afghanistan’s cultural heritage. He told the Taliban that they should respect what is sacred to others. Despite his pleas, a Buddha statue over 1700 years old that stood over 150 feet high at the foot of the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan was destroyed with dynamite.

That was a lot of heritage destroyed. Why? Because it did not comport with the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam and they saw it as an affront to their dignity.

Frequently the terms “intellectual elite,” the “politically correct police” and “naivetŽ” go together. Numerous connotative meanings can be associated with terms. And the predominant connotative meaning associated with a term can change over time.

Thus, those of us who are 50 year alumni may have a different connotative meaning of the term “Old Siwash” than a freshman with two months on campus. So now a question emerges. Does the current generation of Knox students (like the Taliban) really wish to eradicate what has been sacred to others for close to 100 years?

One suggestion I have is for those current students to go to urbandictionary.com and search for the meaning of Prairie Fire in the search box at the top of the screen.

You might find that what is beautiful and what is distasteful is in the eye of the beholder. Interestingly, with the advent of the Internet, and searching with selective perception, one can find almost anything to support or refute their point of view.

 

Rich Izzett

Class of 1965

 

TKS Staff

Tags:  alumni homecoming letter to the editor prairie fire siwash taliban

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  • Kathryn Sutcliffe

    Please tell me current students – who are the ones on campus to learn, grow, and explore new ideas – aren’t being compared to the the Taliban.

    An urban dictionary search of “prairie fires” reveals it’s also the name of an alcoholic drink. Hardly comparable to a name used to stereotype all native american peoples. A brief dictionary – the actual dictionary, that is – search of the term “Siwash” has it listed as “Noun, derogatory.” “Siwash” is a human-created slur with negative connotations that, for good reason, is no longer used.

    I also take issue with we, the alumni, using the argument of “we’ve been around a long time” as a reason to shut down the current students from grappling with what campus should currently be. We had our heyday. The current students are the ones who should be shaping Knox going forward.



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