“…..Old Things Are Passed Away; Behold, All Things Are Become New.”

We’ve been thinking a great deal about the attacks and bans on certain symbols, songs, statues, etc., that are coming up lately.

It almost seems to be a case of “what can we be offended about and demand to be swept away?” rather than “how does this impact us today and what is the meaning of this today?”

One of the verses in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17 which reads:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)

While the verse is mostly centered on the man, the idea that “all things are become new” is relevant today.

Which brings us to two instances from the University of Texas and the University of Florida.

The University of Texas has decided to ban the playing of the song “the Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” by its marching band.

Few would say those lyrics are racist, but UT Professor Dr. Edmond Gordan explained the nodes of racism won’t be found in the “The Eyes of Texas” lyrics but in the song’s past.

Gordan said “The Eyes of Texas” was originally a satirical song once performed at minstrel shows, which are comedic variety shows featuring white performers in blackface.

The Texas Cowboys school spirit association was a key social group on the UT campus for decades. In the past, Gordan said members would put on blackface and perform a sort of a minstrel show each year for their schoolmates.

Gordan said the “The Eyes of Texas” is a satirical rendition of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee’s saying “the eyes of the south are upon you,” which was made popular on the UT campus by former university president William Lambdin Prather.

Oh no! Not Robert E. Lee!

Nothing good can ever come from him!

Lee used the saying “the eyes of the South are upon you” in his commencement addresses at Washington and Lee University. It’s message was that as most of the men and women who were attending the University were from the South, how they acted, how they behaved, how they carried themselves would be a reflection on the South in general. That’s not a bad message when you think about it.

Thomas Jefferson said something similar:

“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.” – Thomas Jefferson.

By the 1930’s the origins of the song was basically forgotten. No one cared about its roots. What they did care about at the University of Texas was a rallying song that brought people together under the burnt orange and white of the school’s colors.

Even if one wanted to say that the song’s origins were steeped in racism, that meaning disappeared 90 years ago. There was a different, better, more inclusive meaning now that has been carried onto this day.

In other words, “all things have become new.”

Removal of the song and a requirement that all athletes sing it at sporting events was outlined in a list of requests from current Longhorn athletes to make the school to make the school more inclusive.

Black athletes have said that they will no longer participate in recruiting if the song remains.

The lack of logic there is stunning. First, the “request” became a “demand” and then a “threat.”

“Do this or else.”

What is even more stunning is that the athletes are saying they won’t help recruit students to the school which means that more minority students won’t attend the school. It is the exact opposite of what the goal of “inclusiveness” is.

The school has decided to ban the song, which is their right. We doubt whether that will stop other students and alumni from singing the song.

The University of Florida is doing something similar.

The University of Florida will no longer use the “Gator Bait” cheer at sporting events, President Kent Fuchs announced Thursday, citing the racist imagery associated with the phrase as the primary reason behind the decision.

“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our “Gator Bait” cheer at Florida sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” Fuchs wrote in a UF statement titled “Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism.” “Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”

Furthermore, Fuchs said Florida will take steps “removing any monuments or namings that Florida can control that celebrate the Confederacy or its leaders.”

#Gators will no longer use “Gator Bait” cheer at sporting events, citing “horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase”
— Graham Hall (@GrahamHall_) June 18, 2020

The cheer typically follows a brief intro from the UF band, followed by fans chomping twice with their left arm over their right arm followed by a “Gator Bait” cheer. It’s unclear if fans will still be permitted to do the chomp, which became popular following the release of the movie “Jaws” before becoming an official tradition during the 1981 season, following Florida’s decision.

With the country in the midst of nationwide protests regarding the intertwining of police brutality and racism, Florida is just the latest establishment to re-evaluate and reflect on behavior previously given a pass.

The representation of Black children as “alligator bait” was perpetuated in motion pictures and popular song, such as the not-so-sweet lullaby “Mammy’s Little Alligator Bait,” composed by Henry Wise and Sidney Perrin in 1899, according to the Library of Congress.

Historical evidence on the subject, however, has been mixed until recently; a 2014 article in the Miami New Times concluded “during slavery and into the 20th Century, Black babies were used as alligator bait in North and Central Florida.” Time magazine in 1923 reported the practice of using Black children as “alligator bait” had taken place in Chipley, Florida; the town refuted this claim, calling it “a silly lie, false and absurd.”

What is disturbing about this is that the University of Florida is taking a cheer that had nothing to do with the past, (even though that past is highly disputed) and saying “we aren’t doing this cheer anymore.”

It is telling to us that the President says there are no racist incidents associated with the cheer, but they still are banning it because of the suspect “history” of the past.

So where did the modern emphasis of the cheer come from?

You can thank former Gator football player Lawrence Wright for that.

Danny Weuffel (left) and Lawrence Wright (right) hug and share a laugh on Jan. 11, 1997 at the Gators National Championship Celebration at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Lawrence Wright, who famously uttered the phrase, “If you ain’t a Gator, ya Gator bait, baby” after a 1995 win over Florida State at The Swamp, was livid after the announcement that UF will stop using the cheer.

“While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our “Gator Bait” cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” Fuchs wrote in a UF statement titled “Another Step Toward Positive Change Against Racism.” “Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.”

Wright, who was planning to launch a line of bobbleheads, shirts and No. 4 jerseys with the phrase he is well known for, said he was most upset that there was no discussion about it.

“The Gator Nation is a culture, too,” said Wright, who is Black. “It’s not about what happened way back in the past. How about our culture?

“Me and the president need to sit down and talk about this.”

Wright did receive a call from a University Athletic Association official to inform him of the decision.

“I’m not going for it,” said Wright, who won the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s best defensive back in 1996. “I created something for us. It’s a college football thing. It’s not a racist thing, It’s about us, the Gator Nation. And I’m Black.

“What about our history as the Gator Nation? We took a program from the top five to No. 1 in the country. I think I’ve done enough, put in the sweat and tears, to get to offer my opinion about something like this.”

Wright was a member of Florida’s first football national title team.

The cheer is used — often with the UF band offering the music to start it — at most UF sporting events. The cheer and the Gator band prompts go back many years before Wright came to Florida. In fact, Gator Bait magazine began in 1980.

“It’s not about us not getting along because of a cheer,” Wright said. “Keep the good stuff and abolish the bad things.”

The picture of Wright and Weuffel is somewhat telling. One black man, one white man. One played offense, the other defense. Yet they were on the same team, united in the same goals, playing for a University they both loved.

Race didn’t matter to them.

Now in the name of something that we can’t quite figure out, we are dividing everything along racial lines.

Sports teams understand that you don’t win when you divide teams. Yet that is exactly what some people – including the President of the University of Florida – want.

Even if the story of “babies and gator bait” is true (and if you think about it, it makes no sense) that’s not what the cheer represents now.

Once again, “all things are new.”

We recognize that racism is a part of the past of America. To deny it would be silly. However, what we are doing now is instead of saying “we want to be a country where race doesn’t matter,” we are saying “you’d better take race into every decision.”

If a song whose lyrics have come to mean inclusiveness and “together as one” and a cheer which celebrates all people at school are deemed wrong, where do we go?

How do we stay a nation when acts like this from supposedly learned people tear us apart on the basis of race?

One Response to ““…..Old Things Are Passed Away; Behold, All Things Are Become New.””

  1. […] last, but not least, Raised On Hoecakes notes how “the “request” became a “demand” and then a […]

  2. Night Heron says:

    Liberal stupidity seems to be no end to the stupidity of liberals with their walnut brains