A seal of approval? Not quite. The official Whitesboro city seal was either a depiction of the town’s founder Hugh White engaging in a friendly wrestling match with an Oneida Native American and fostering a good relationship between White and the land’s first occupants, or it’s just some whacked out white guy choking an Indian to death. While the former is accurate, it’s the latter that frothed up media outlets into a paroxysm of political correctness, once again run amok.
Writes The Associated Press on Jan. 22, via MSN News: “The upstate New York village of Whitesboro has confirmed that it will change its official logo a day after the image, which appears to show a white man throttling an Indian, was ridiculed on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.”
Who says comedy can’t be a driving force for equality and equivalence? And so what if the Whitesboro villagers voted to keep the crudely drawn seal the way it was? This tiny town, ironically in Oneida County New York, population 3,700, just desperately wanted to get back to the way things were a few weeks ago. You know, when no one knew or cared that it existed.
Blame Trevor Noah and his late-night talk, news satire The Daily Show, which ran a segment mocking multicultural uber-sensitivity and highlighting the small-town efforts of an American Indian activist trying to get the Whitesboro seal changed. Show correspondent Jessica Williams blithely championed the case, as the video above detailed, and now Whitesboro is in the process of getting together with the Oneida Indian Nation and busting out some drawing paper and a box of crayons.
“This is but one of many important examples of communities taking welcome steps to be inclusive and promote our region’s commitment to civility,” said Oneida Nation CEO Ray Halbritter in a statement.
While the seal survived nearly ten decades as it hung proudly on official Whitesboro signage, it couldn’t stand to survive the viral, online mockery, which came fast and furious. The story of the seal dates back to 1784, when Mr. White moved to Sedauquate, now Whitesboro, and challenged the tribe’s leader to a friendly tussle. Good thing there was no YouTube back then.
“In speaking with a lot of the residents that voted to keep the seal, I think they were surprised at the negative attention that Whitesboro was receiving as a result of the vote,” said Whitesboro’s mayor Patrick O’Connor.
This isn’t the first time the seal was raised as a point of contention. Explains the NY Times:
The seal depicting that event first came under fire in 1977 when a notice was filed with the Village Board saying the seal depicted a “white man choking an Indian” and was demeaning and degrading. The emblem was altered, ever so slightly, to make it clear that Mr. White’s hands were on the chief’s shoulders, not around his neck. But for many, the new seal was no better the old one.
Keep it, or glad to see it go? What are your thoughts on the Whitesboro seal?