We Are The Lord Jeffs
Issue   |   Wed, 12/10/2014 - 00:01

I am a Lord Jeff. I am a first generation Amherst student. I am not writing this because I have a long connection to the history and tradition of Amherst College. This is truly what I believe, and I think there are plenty of Amherst students who share my beliefs, but fear voicing their opinion.

I had never heard of Amherst before my brother enrolled at Williams when I was in the eighth grade. He told me that the Williams’ mascot is the Ephs and Amherst’s, Williams’ biggest rival, is the Lord Jeffs. At first I didn’t think much of either mascot. Then my brother explained that Williams was given their mascot because the benefactor of the school was named Ephraim Williams. Similarly, Amherst called themselves the Lord Jeffs because the namesake of the town Amherst where the college was founded was Lord Jeffery Amherst. I gained appreciation for both mascots, as they were both historical figures and they were both a refreshing change from the overused Tigers, Panthers, and Cardinals. Both schools having unique mascots is part of the great history of the rivalry.

Figures from history must be treated within the context of their time and circumstances. Yes, the mascot refers to Jeffery Amherst, and no one denies the fact that he treated Native Americans as enemies, which to Amherst is exactly what they were. It was during Pontiac’s Rebellion when Amherst used biological warfare against the Native Americans by way of blankets infected with smallpox. This is a fact, but we must take it with the proper perspective. Weapons of mass destruction were used by both sides in both World Wars, but we must recognize and understand that the generals in these wars were operating in a situation that had no morally correct solution. Furthermore, many of our greatest heroes, including the Founding Fathers, conducted themselves in ways that today would be considered abhorrent.

Context is important. This is true for famous figures of history, but it is also true for every single student here. Don’t we want future generations to keep context in mind when forming their opinions of us? To judge a man such as Amherst for his actions by today’s standards, more than 200 years later and in a time of relative peace, is shockingly hypocritical.

If the mascot must be changed because it is offensive to the Native American community for us to be called the Lord Jeffs, then the name of the college must be changed as well if we are to have any semblance of ideological consistency. Why stop at the mascot? This seems like a pathetic and superficial response. We are called Amherst College because of Jeffery Amherst. Changing the mascot doesn’t rid us of the association with Lord Jeff, which a few people think is a problem. Far more meaningful activities are things like the Admissions Office inviting Native Americans to the Diversity Open House and spending extra time with them, in an effort to increase the amount of Native American applications sent to the college.

The Moose? Really? We want to be called the Moose because a moose wandered onto our campus last spring? Ask student-athletes if they want their team mascot to be the Moose and you will hear a resounding no. The students pushing this change are not the ones who would walk out onto the court, field, or pitch with “MOOSE” in big letters across their chest. I’m not saying student-athletes should be the ones making the decision, but they definitely should be involved in the decision. The Moose sounds more like the mascot of a created team in a video game than a prestigious institution. Some students at Amherst get wind of the idea of change and jump on board. It seems like everyone needs to be protesting something at all times. Let’s take a step back and really think about the things we are supporting.

When I think of a Lord Jeff, I don’t think of Lord Jeffery Amherst. I think of excellence, in the humanities, science, music, theater, art and athletics. I think of all the past alumni and administrators that worked to make Amherst the great place it is today. I think of sporting events and orchestra concerts, late nights in Frost and football practice. And I think of all the students of Amherst, some of whom will be groomsmen in my wedding, and godfathers to my children. The mascot Lord Jeffs provides a common ground for all of us with past and future generations of Amherst students. Changing the mascot loses this connection. They were Lord Jeffs. We are Lord Jeffs.

Anchor
Comments
Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:26

Lord Jeff never actually gave Native Americans blankets contaminated with smallpox. He merely included in a letter of his intent to do so. The letter was received after the blankets had already been given to the Native Americans.

Will.I.Am (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:29

Nice try, Ghost of Lord Jeffrey Amherst.

Olivia (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:29

Thank you for your comment; I wholeheartedly support your points.

Umass Frat Bro '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:31

Frankly, I think the Lord Jeff is a stupid mascot anyways. Seriously now, who could possibly be proud to be a 'Lord Jeff.' Have you seen how dumb the mascot looks??? I don't really care about any of the other stuff (history, blankets, Natives, etc.). It's just a really dumb mascot that makes Amherst College look bad.

MOOOOOOSE

BW (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:33

'Moose' over Lord Jeff. It's time for a new mascot. #pun #smallpoxblanketswhatup

Lady Moose '13 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:43

This has GOT to be the most ignorant thing I have read in a while on this page... Amherst College is failing its student body if after two and a half years of studying there, this is what comes out from their students.
.
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“Some students at Amherst get wind of the idea of change and jump on board. It seems like everyone needs to be protesting something at all times. Let’s take a step back and really think about the things we are supporting.”
.
Besides the mascot situation, in the past two and a half years, we have protested:
-The gross mishandling of sexual assaults on campus
-Violence against the black community by the police
-Climate change, pushing for divestment
.
Yeah… I guess we are just pulling stuff out of our asses; we must be REALLY bored huh?
.
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Get your head out of your ass dude, or go back to living a life where the biggest injustice is whether we become the Amherst Moose or Squirrel.
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And for the record, I really don't even care what new mascot we choose... we can be the Amherst Potatoes for all I care, as long as it is not some genocidal psychopath.

Greg Williams '16 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:48

You lose all credibility when you anonymously blast someone's opinion. To tell Mike that he should think more about what he is supporting is pretentious and incorrect, and to attack someone's opinion in your manner is as hypocritical as it comes. Sign your name next time you want to contribute anything to this debate, it's embarrassing that your thoughts may gain traction on any level.

Also the moose didn't choose us. The moose didn't choose shit it was wandering around our campus and had to be shot with tranquilizer darts, and then for a reason I don't understand people glommed onto it as mascot.

Kobina Quaye '15 (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:05

With all due respect, I believe you're missing the point, Greg. First of all, your "claim" about anonymity detracting from a statement's credibility cannot be plausible. Frankly, the fact that you argue this here displays the very arrogance and dismissiveness that you apparently demonize. By not engaging with someone's perspective rationally or critically, you're discrediting them merely on the basis of two names not accompanying them.

But it's not even likely that you support this premise. If I constructed a counter-factual in which Mike had published this article anonymously, I doubt you would have thought it didn't warrant praise or serious consideration. You only cite it here as an insidious tactic to dismiss dissent.

Secondly, you should focus less on the adoption of the moose and more the dismissal of Lord Jeff as a mascot. I don't think anybody seriously opposing the Lord Jeff mascot (which we shouldn't mistakenly assume is a small number) would be opposed to pursuing other options for a mascot. If your objection truly lies with the moose, then I expect you to be attentive to any conversation in the future that surrounds the election of a new mascot. But it seems that your issue stems not from the former, but the latter. You don't dislike the moose, you dislike the dismissal of the Lord Jeff. You refuse to sever ties from its history by selectively recalling the "positive" aspects of that history. And that's most likely a symptom of being an athlete. Or being the spawn of privilege. Or not knowing what it's like to face the celebration of your people's subjugation everyday. If the only argument is really that you don't want to be known as the moose, the appropriate response that fits the concern is to galvanize a discussion of the mascot, not to blindly retain our current one.

It's embarrassing that you can be so hypocritical in a post meant to identify the alleged hypocrisy of someone else. Seriously consider the issues at hand, come up with a calculated and critical response, and then post here.

Until then, you're just pretentious noise. And worry not, I signed my name so that it's plausible that my opinion "may gain traction on any level." (That's also some pretty weird word-choice, since "traction' may as well be synonymous with friction. Almost seems like an oxymoron.)

Greg Williams '16 (not verified) says:
Sat, 12/13/2014 - 12:21

Kobina, thank you for signing your name. Now I can say something to you instead of addressing nothing. And in your eyes I missed the point of the debate, but the point I was addressing is just how detrimental anonymity and accusations are to the argument for or against mascot change.

Perhaps saying you lose credibility was partially inaccurate. You can still make a good point as many have. But I since signed my name, and you can go on Facebook and see white male athlete and now I lose credibility (any hypocrisy there?). I still say you lose the ability to have any form of reasonable debate. I have read what the anonymous posters have been saying, and I have been considering their points, and then I realize where I have the problem. I still think the moose is absurd and that will never change, but for me the issue is no longer the mascot. It is the way everyone goes out of their way to demonize Mike for supporting the Lord Jeff mascot, someone who has been accused of genocide (something I disagree with, see Sam Seham's argument, but that's another issue...), a clearly unpopular opinion if the internet is a true representation of everyone's thoughts. And once again it comes back down to race and my inability to comprehend anything but a painless existence, because everyone knows that everything I've ever gotten was handed to me on a silver platter.

And, don't you need friction a.k.a. traction to get anywhere? Not quite an oxymoron when you think for a second realize what traction and friction are...

Reid 2016 (not verified) says:
Sat, 12/13/2014 - 12:47

Hey Kobina- Your words are very scary. "that's most likely a SYMPTOM of being an athlete. Or being the SPAWN of privilege"

Sam Seham (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:51

It would seem to me that people are being too liberal with their use of the word "genocide" and their comparisons with the holocaust of the Second World War. When Lord Jeffery mounted his infamous biological campaign it was in the context of an all out war between combined French and Native American forces versus British colonialists. The Native Americans, unlike the Jews, were enemy combatants. Lord Jeffery's actions are more similar to the tactic of "total warfare", a strategy characterized by the targeting of civilian populations along with enemy forces. Such a strategy is regrettable but has existed since the invention of armed conflict. If Lord Jeff committed genocide then so has every general in modern history.

Daniel Diner '14 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 13:55

You're not right about this, Michael. The Lord Jeff is surely one of the worst mascots in collegiate history. It has the unfortunate combination of being incredibly offensive (other historical figures also acting abhorrently in no way alleviates this) and of completely failing to rally any school spirit/common ground. L.J.A was a relatively unimportant, old, racist person completely unaffiliated with the College and certainly unaffiliated with any of the values the College claims to hold. What a shitty and ridiculous figure to try to center school spirit around.

What's most important, though, isn't that the Lord Jeff is an awful mascot. And it isn't that the historical grounds to keep it are shaky as hell. It's that having it makes many of your peers uncomfortable. And what makes them even more uncomfortable is when their well-being isn't regarded by fellow students. I'm Jewish, and if I came to Amherst to find out that the mascot was some colonist who was known for having written a letter supporting a massacre of Jews, I would have felt confused and a little threatened. And if I saw classmates discounting my concerns by writing that institutional tolerance of anti-semitism is permissible because "many of our greatest heroes...conducted themselves in ways that today would be considered abhorrent" I would be terrified. And if I was an African American student attending Ole Miss, hearing my peers defending the unconscionable Colonel Reb mascot for these same reasons (as it still actually is), I would be feel legitimately terrorized. I would tell you to check your privilege, but reading your article I don't think you know how. So instead, let me leave you with some advice:

One of the things learned by just about everyone who comes out of Amherst is how to improve the strength of their argument. Debate is central to many courses, and often the incentive in class discussions is to "win" the argument. What I'm asking you to try, Michael, is to cool your instincts to 'debate,' and instead to converse. Be sure that you understand before you try to 'win.' Even if you insist on having an argument over a conversation, your goal is to convince the other party of the rightness of your point of view. And that can hardly be achieved without your first empathizing with theirs.

NIGGA (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:11

WHAT THE FUCK? WHO CARES? STFU

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:29

You really don't have anything new to say. This reads like an article from a 60+ alumnus. I think before you wrote this, you could've really stood to do more research. The idea that the founding fathers are "many of our greatest heroes" is extremely ignorant, considering how many Amherst students are painfully aware that, for example, Thomas Jefferson raped his female slave(s). Our greatest heroes? I think you mean your own. You are a white man, trying to speak for the women (keep in mind that one of the smaller problems with "the Lord Jeffs" is its exclusion of women), PoC, and other marginalized groups on campus. You even mention that when you're thinking of "all Amherst students," you're specifically thinking of men—future groomsmen and godfathers.

You try to make it sound like you're doing something radical and brave ("I think there are plenty of Amherst students who share my beliefs, but fear voicing their opinion") when really you're just stepping on the voices of people who have been silenced for years. Your argument does not read like one made after careful consideration of the "opposition". Hint: the only people agreeing with you in the comments are other white people, and only white people of a very specific background.

I can't believe you think this is "taking a stand." I'm glad you affirmed the bigoted opinions of other Amherst students, some of whom I'll admit are probably more bigoted than your intended audience. Unfortunately, the only people agreeing with you are those who are either as close-minded or even more close-minded than you, and that means quite a few racists. I'm not saying you're a racist for this article (yes, you are being racist), but there are certainly racists on campus, and they're the ones thanking you so profusely in the comments. The poor souls.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:32

"It seems like everyone needs to be protesting something at all times."

"I'm a privileged white man who has never faced serious oppression in my life. When I see people protesting because they feel dehumanized, threatened, or humiliated, I automatically assume they're protesting because it's hip and trendy. Oh, First Nation people on campus have objected to the Lord Jeff? Ok, but I feel very strongly that a moose is more humiliating. I mean...there are two Os in that word!! It sounds silly! Why would they spell it that way? Oh. Because it's derived from an Algonquian word? Hmm. Still sounds pretty silly."

stephen cacouris (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:37
Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:40

If being a "Lord Jeff" makes you happy that isn't an evil thing, but at least recognize that many people at Amherst find it really uncomfortable and embarrassing that our symbol is someone who committed genocide. So your last point about "common ground for us all" is just wrong. As for historical context, it's true that no one can completely transcends the weaknesses of their century, but there are plenty of historical figures (from any era) who don't fail as abysmally at that test as Jeffrey Amherst does.

I'm pretty sure that the link you apparently feel with the Amherst past is strong enough to survive a change in symbols. If the community actually falls apart because we decided it might be better if we choose a mascot who didn't hate and kill people, then Amherst isn't really such a good place.

Anyway, even before I knew who Lord Jeff was I thought he was a silly mascot, mascots ought to be animals (since you brought it up, I'd personally prefer squirrels over moose. This is partly because of the pluralization issue, but also because squirrels seem nimble and crafty while moose are a bit brutish).

Ryan Arnold '15 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:41

James Baldwin writes, "There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one's head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people's pain." This article, which vacillates between incoherency and absurdity without ever finding anything that resembles a thesis statement, is despicable because it is contemptuous of the suffering of others -- of the historical suffering of millions of indigenous persons who were dispossessed by white supremacy, and of the dispossession and alienation lived by students of color on campus at present. It is despicable to attempt to equivocate and trivialize genocide, and it is intellectually and morally offensive to reduce the gross violence of white supremacy to the nihilistic, insouciant shrug of relativism.

stephen cacouris (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:42

the only thing worse than this is that our fucking newspaper published it

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:48

by the way, google exists. we know that your hometown is 82.21% white. did you realize that in 2010 there were 16 NA people living there? did you ever have a conversation with any of them? I wonder how enlightening that would've been.

Ashley (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:49

Was this satire?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 14:58

Mike, I want to say it is bold to post your opinion and by no means do you say it in a negative light. You want what you think is best for the school.

However, as another Anonymous poster has suggested, you seem to make this Moose issue a student-athlete/non-student divide. I don't feel comfortable with that statement. There are plenty of non-athletes who wish to keep the Lord Jeff and plenty of student athletes who wish to get rid of it. In the end, what I see this issue as is one of tradition vs. change.

In addition, you fail to consider the club athlete's opinions; for example, Water Polo extensively uses a penguin as their mascot. I as a club student athlete, am in full support of changing the mascot. I am not proud to symbolize Lord Jeff on the field, pitch, or court. Whether or not the Moose is a proper mascot is a whole different story. But I want something that doesn't require increased Native American recruitment to compensate for an offensive mascot or one that requires extensive debate.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 20:41

Club sports are stupid lol so nobody cares about your opinion when it comes to athletics

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 15:03

Even if you are from Germany, anyone one would agree it's not ok to say "Heil Hitler"
Why then, even as Amherst students are we made to say "go Lord Jeff"

I want to be able to cheer on my team without it leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

(and hey, we could keep tradition alive by naming our moose Lord Jeff, just replace the murderous man that the name 'Lord Jef'f represents to a majestic moose)

not a moose (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 15:21

Seriously, if you want to change the mascot, don't make it a moose that once wandered onto campus that we shot and killed. We can come up with something better.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 16:04

So it's 'superficial' for people to want a man who committed genocide upon Native Americans to not be the symbol of their academic institution, but it's not superficial for the athletes to not want to wear moose on their chest because it looks like a 'video game'? Every reason you are making for denying the moose as a mascot is itself superficial.
Another thing, why is the history of Lord Jeffery so important? You say many of 'our' heroes committed crimes on the lives of others, but I would never call the founding fathers my heroes, even as an American citizen. You are telling the Native American students and other POC who may feel alienated or even threatened by this mascot to take Lord Jeff into context, and realize that he was just doing what he thought was right. Why doesn't Amherst take Lord Jeff into context and get rid of him entirely? I'm not taught about Lord Jeff in any class and that mascot provides nothing in this present moment. At least with moose one could wear antlers for fun. POC are told everyday to simply let go of their history, no matter how scarring it may have been, so maybe it's time that someone tells Amherst the same thing, and we let go of Lord Jeff.
The Moose and the Lord Jeff will both provide common ground for Amherst students because that's what a mascot does. People are just as upset with Lord Jeff as they would be with Moose, so how about we choose the mascot that didn't murder anyone?

Amherst 09 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 22:28

I believe he was referring to it being superficial when the name of the town and the college still bear the surname Amherst. Would you not agree that the mascot is the most superficial of those three and thus warrants his use of the word?

thurman (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 16:35
Research it for... (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 16:54

It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's what you know for sure that ain't so...

"Logic, a better understanding of smallpox itself, and another look at the evidence call into question much of the standard rendition of the story and the ways that historians for more than a century have misrepresented the evidence...Neither Amherst nor Bouquet actually tried germ warfare. The attempt to disseminate smallpox took place at Fort Pitt Independent of both of them."
-- The British, the Indians, and Smallpox: What Actually Happened at Fort Pitt in 1763? by Philip Ranlet
http://www.jstor.org/stable/27774278?seq=3

Amherst 09 (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 17:31

I am confused by the multiple comments with deletions and insertions by the author of the post. It is pretty easy to change the meaning of what someone is saying by substituting your own words. Despite what you might think, it's not very clever and doesn't prove a point. Additionally, it only took a few comments to invoke Godwin's Law... Must mean that this is something worth discussing... Good job, Michael for bringing it up!

Lord Jeff (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 18:03

If you want the mascot to be a moose, go model for Abercrombie.

Young alum (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 19:27

Definitely not in favor of changing the mascot, but I understand how some can take the other side.

That being said, I really can't respect the arguments I've seen saying that the school was named after the town, therefore it's somehow different from the mascot.

Give me a break.

If you're going to go on this crusade, go all the way. Change the name of the College, one of the best and most respected in the world.

Change the name of the town, because who do you think the town was named after?

Then you can go ahead and get UMASS to change their affiliation with the tainted suburb. Even get the high school changed.

And then, when someone is offended by Moose in 200 years, you can change that too.

I say this partly in jest, but I'm still waiting to hear a legitimate argument that doesn't make this defense.

Why not stand for an issue that is really affecting the people of this country - like the shocking movement against women's rights, the marginalization of minorities, or the staunch support of firearm ownership that happens every day.

We're talking about a mascot.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 19:42

No frats. No socials. No athletics. No spirit. No tradition....just the bittersweet joy of Frost Library.
You got the president's office to fund a giant moose in Frost without anyone's consent.
If you're going to have it your way, at least be decent (democratic?) and put it to a vote.
Include the Alumni too -they're the ones paying half the school's tuition. See how much money you get from them when they have to replace all their old college gear and apparel.
Michael's article is a symptom of a bigger problem.
AC TRADITION IS DEAD.

Write us a 100 page novel on how to fix that...

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 21:25

What even is "Tradition"?

The kind of "traditions" you refer to are so secondary.

Our primary tradition should be effective transmission of our values to each new class of students. We should organize and bond with each other based on our shared devotion to our motto: we should feel connected, not because of silly mascots or greek letters or some ambiguous "spirit" but instead because we share a desire to collectively work to make the world a better place. There is value and meaning in that, much more than continuing to worship some random dude or wear a shirt with greek letters and a lobster pun on it.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 19:47

"Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance."
http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 21:28

Hi MJ,

This was indeed brave. You will receive a lot of attacks, but I know you didn't mean any harm. With that being said, I do not agree with your position, and I ask you to consider how much a mascot really matters (if it doesn't matter to you, then, let the people who care about it have their way.)

Mainly, I just came here to say that being a "first-generation college student" does not automatically grant you an enlightened stance. I wish you had opened your debate differently.

Rebecca (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 21:49

I find this article refreshing and respect the author for voicing his opinion. The reactions are truly unbelievable. Some of you seem to have trouble thinking for yourselves and choose to be liberal for the sake of being liberal. I applaud the writer for pushing you to consider his viewpoint. Isn't that why you go to Amherst- to push your thinking? Also, if you have something to say, have the balls to sign your name as Mike did.

Phil McKrevis (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 21:57

Mike- bravo...

I just stumbled across your article on the old inter-web and enjoyed reading it. Thanks for speaking your mind and having the courage to sign your name to it.

As I read the comments to your post what becomes apparent is the lack of inclusiveness from the progressive, Marxists that infect the prestigious institution you attend. It seems that diversity of thought only exists if the 'institutional elites' agree or approve of the topic or person in question. The real issue that you and those who agree with tradition and history is the diseased mind of those among you. You see Mike these folks are so brilliant that they feel they can correct all the ills of the past with these arguments that prove some self-proclaimed compassionate, inclusive, don't offend any one moral ideology. These are the same folks Mike who argue with the adoption of a carbon tax they can change climate and a billion years of the earths natural changes. Real smart people among you Mike!

What is important Mike is that your opionion matters and matters more than the wanker who writes a war and peace response and signs it Anonymous. Typical coward, who argues like a Frenchman fights.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 22:16

In other words, when you think of Lord Jeffrey Amherst, you think of things that conveniently erase history of minority struggle and marginalization. Pretending this history is no longer relevant and that perpetuating the use of the mascot is horribly ignorant.

This is incredibly racist and the epitome of a speech from one who lacks knowledge about what it
means to be marginalized.

Tired of the whining (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 22:59

If the mascot is such a problem for some, why did they apply to this school. Apply somewhere else, get accepted and go there. The admissions department needs to stop admitting so many overly sensitive, self-important and emotionally combustible young people.

Disappointed (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 23:11

In response to backlash it seems like the author of this article is now deleting chunks of his argument to defend himself from the more discerned of readers. Setting all else aside, I was most disappointed by your original statement (one that I can't seem to find anymore...this is why you need to think hard and write well before publishing an article like this, for future reference.):

"It seems like everyone needs to be protesting something at all times."

It saddens me a lot that anyone in this Amherst community would trivialize and make fun of incredibly serious and wholehearted efforts of the community to strive for issues such as 1) Environmental sustainability 2) Sexual respect and Title IX and 3) the systemic injustice and racism rooted in our society, most recently (and most blatantly) illustrated by the Eric Garner case. Please tell me these are NOT trivial issues. People on this campus care and are proud to show that they care. I do not believe that anyone (let alone someone who writes articles that are logically unsound, and then does not have the guts or the intellectual precision to address the counterarguments, and so has to resort to deleting chunks out of his original text as the only means to defend himself) would daresay these are issues to be overlooked.

I am grateful that my Amherst education taught me to think critically, write perceptively, and stand by my arguments in a constructive but confident manner. I thought that all students benefitted from this wonderful education, but clearly it seems like we've missed a few people here and there.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Wed, 12/10/2014 - 23:48

If people aren't open minded enough to respectfully listen to his opinion then this is the issue we should really be addressing. This article was well written and deserves none of the disrespectful comments it has been given. Disagree all you want, I'm sure the author expected controversy, but some of the comments from our elite Amherst students are really disappointing me. Changing the mascot isn't a horrible idea, how about ANYTHING but the moose. Amherst Falcons?

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 02:56

Pity the poor admissions officer who has to explain to a South Asian prospective student in a meeting in Mumbai or a South African prospective student in Johannesburg that Lord Jeff was an early/earliest proponent of germ warfare against a native population -- and he is the Amherst mascot. I bet that goes down well.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 03:16

"This article was well written and deserves none of the disrespectful comments it has been given."

Did we read the same article? This is one of the most poorly written pieces I have seen in the Student and frankly it's embarrassing to both its author and anyone supporting the "logic" of his ill conceived argument. Many people have already completely destroyed Mike's inherently ignorant and absurdly dense points, so go ahead and read those comments if you're confused.

To address another aspect of your comment though, you state that "people aren't open minded enough to respectfully listen to [Mike's] opinion."

What about the people that are speaking against Mike's opinion and being public attacked or ridiculed on Facebook by the rest of the football team, with the same "vitriol" they are rallying against? See the Amherst College 2016 group if you don't know what I'm talking about. You may also refer to a comment on this article by another football player defending Mike and spewing hatred towards those who do not. (To anyone that claims that the number and tone of those comments don't constitute social assault, don't kid yourselves.) An embarrassing amount of Amherst students (read: other football players) are ganging up on their peers speaking out against the article (even those presented in an acceptable tone) because they have the social power to do so and get away with it. I would argue that those are the students that aren't "open minded" enough to engage in a critical and respectful debate, because they are too blinded by their own social privilege to acknowledge that someone else might have a valid point.

It's not a secret that the majority of the people supporting Mike's argument are his teammates or fellow athletes (or students who are/wish to be accepted by athletes ... just go through the list of likes on his status)-- a population that inarguably has incredible social power and privilege on this campus. To express a dissenting opinion is truly intimidating when you are faced with an entire population of people supporting Mike because he's a good-guy athlete with a lot of friends. (That's why, I assume, many people decide to stay anonymous, including myself). It is the socially acceptable and beneficial position to support this argument, because that's what most athletes support, and they are the in-group of this college. That in itself is incredibly disappointing.

(As a side note... I acknowledge a critique of my argument is that it perpetuates and exacerbates the athlete-non athlete divide. But in anticipation of that response, I assert that this debate is inherently polarized. If you think I'm just a slighted non-athlete that I wished I played a sport, I would disagree. But regardless, there is a far larger issue at play here.)

For the most part, the people speaking out against this article are using intellectual, critical, and thoughtful critiques of Mike's argument (sometimes relaying them with rightful frustration or resentment). These students, however, are met with an army of peers (many of them athletes) pushing back against them, not with equally insightful and critical arguments but rather with popular support as justification for their correctness. Clearly, in light of my assertions in the above paragraph, we should conclude that popular support means very little in this debate, and take his Facebook likes with a grain of salt.

If you truly believe that the people arguing against a mascot that celebrates oppression are the "elite Amherst students" rather than the people IN FAVOR of keeping an overtly racist figure as a representation of our school, I beg you to take a step back and reconsider. (And maybe take a history, anthropology, sociology, LJST, black studies, or political science class that teaches you how to think critically about the world and the institutions you exist in relation to).

A White Male Athlete (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 03:47

I'm a white male member of a mostly white male varsity athletic team.

White males need to read, and hopefully consider, the following:

No matter how uncomfortable we feel as white males when a white male mascot is challenged, or when the portrait of a white male pool player is removed from Val, or when a white male police officer is questioned for the killing of an unarmed black man, WE WILL NEVER, AS WHITE MALES, EXPERIENCE THE INJUSTICES --OR DIFFICULTIES, WHATEVER YOU FIND MORE ACCESSIBLE-- THAT MEN OF COLOR FACE DAILY IN AMERICA SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THEIR COLOR. That is all.

In conclusion:

It's time for white males to progress.
.

Mark Brown '76 (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 09:33

I find it surprising and discouraging that the vast majority of comments made in this post are anonymous. Is Amherst College now a place where you can only express your point of view behind a shield of anonymity? If so, it is certainly not a community that I would be proud to be a part of.

Brittany Berckes (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 22:20

I think you're onto something, Mark. It's a sad reality.

Rick Williams MD '76 (not verified) says:
Fri, 12/12/2014 - 20:00

Well said Mark. We come from a time when everyone signed their name to an article or a comment, for better or worse. The upside of social media is everyone feels included, but the downside is anyone and everyone feels entitled to participate ANONYMOUSLY. That's weak and worthless. The discussion doesn't work if no one knows who's talking. For the Amherst Student to be a legitimate publication they should exclude anonymous posters.

Sue (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 10:05

Good word, Mike. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Anonymous (not verified) says:
Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:10

Lol, you're a fool.

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