The following essay was written by Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois School of Law.
ILLINIWAK: RACIAL DISCRIMINATION! by Francis A. Boyle Professor of Law University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Board of Directors, Amnesty International USA (1988-92) Holder of 2 Football Season Tickets (Since About 1981) Holder of 2 Basketball Season Tickets (Since About 1982) In his letter of 16 July 1997 to Ms. Susan Gravenhorst, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Professor Mort Winston, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) and a prominent University of Illinois Alumnus, called "Chief" Illiniwak a "human rights violation," condemned it in no uncertain terms, and demanded the elimination of this racist mascot. Before he joined the AIUSA Board, Professor Winston was the leading AIUSA expert on, and activist against, racism and apartheid in South Africa prior to the Mandela revolution. Professor Winston knows a human rights violation when he sees one. The same is true for me. In addition to serving four years as a Member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, I was the person who single-handedly convinced the ultra-conservative Faculty of the University of Illinois College of Law to introduce a course on International Human Rights Law into the Law School Curriculum as Law 370, and have taught this course for many years to about 30 students per year. Illiniwak is indeed a human rights violation. The United States government is a contracting party to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Hence, this Racial Discrimination Convention is a "treaty' and thus the "supreme Law of the Land" under the so-called Supremacy Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution: Article VI .... This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. In other words, the Racial Discrimination Convention absolutely binds the entirety of the State of Illinois, including therein the University of Illinois. Article 1(1) of the Racial Discrimination Convention defines the term "racial discrimination" as follows: "In this Convention the term 'racial discrimination' shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life." (Emphasis added.) Obviously, Illiniwak is a "distinction" on the multiple bases of "race," and "colour," and "descent." Illiniwak definitely has the "effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life" for Native American Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Members here at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. In accordance with the terms of this Racial Discrimination Convention to which the United States is a party, Illiniwak constitutes "racial discrimination" by the University of Illinois against Native Americans. Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Racial Discrimination Convention provides as follows: Article 2 1. States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms, and promoting understanding among all races, and to this end: (a) Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation; (b) Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations; (c) Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists; (d) Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization; (e) Each State Party undertakes to encourage, where appropriate, integrationist multi-racial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races, and to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial division. [Emphasis added.] Clearly, Illiniwak places the United States of America in breach of these most solemn obligations under Article 2 of the Racial Discrimination Convention. Illiniwak contravenes Racial Discrimination Convention Article 2. The conclusion is inexorable that to be in accordance with the terms of the Racial Discrimination Convention, the University of Illinois must eliminate Illiniwak. Article 4 of the Racial Discrimination Convention clearly requires the Government of the United States of America to eliminate Illiniwak in no uncertain terms: Article 4 States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination, and to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia: (a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin, and also the provision of any assistance to racist activities, including the financing thereof; (b) Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offence punishable by law; (c) Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination. [Emphasis added.] Notice in particular the requirement of Article 4(c) of the Racial Discrimination Convention: "Shall not permit public authorities or public institutions, national or local, to promote or incite racial discrimination." To the contrary, the University of Illinois deliberately promotes and incites racial discrimination against Native Americans by means of Illiniwak for the quite mercenary purpose of making money! Article 5 of the Racial Discrimination Convention expressly requires the United States government "to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights..." (Emphasis added.) The conclusion is inexorable that Illiniwak contravenes Article 5 of the Racial Discrimination Convention. Furthermore, Illiniwak also contravenes Article 6 of the Racial Discrimination Convention: Article 6 States Parties shall assure to everyone within their jurisdiction effective protection and remedies through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions against any acts of racial discrimination which violate his human rights and fundamental freedoms contrary to this Convention, as well as the right to seek from such tribunals just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered as a result of such discrimination. Finally, Illiniwak contravenes Article 7 of the Racial Discrimination Convention: Article 7 States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups, as well as to propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and this Convention. The conclusion is inexorable that to be in accordance with the terms of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination the University of Illinois--a Public Institution--must eliminate Illiniwak. As can be seen from the above analysis, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination expressly incorporates by reference the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). No point would be served here by detailing all the provisions of the UDHR that are currently being violated by Illiniwak. But in particular, I wish to draw to your attention UDHR Articles 1 and 2: Article 1 All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 2 Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (Emphasis added.) The United States government has been in the vanguard of the worldwide movement to establish that these fundamental provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inter alia, constitute customary international law. Customary international law is part of the common law of the United States of America and the common law of all the States of the Union. Customary international law applies to and binds the State of Illinois and the University of Illinois. Clearly, by means of Illiniwak the University of Illinois refuses to act towards Native Americans "in a spirit of brotherhood" in violation of UDHR Article 1. Similarly, Illiniwak constitutes a "distinction" on the prohibited grounds of race, colour and religion, inter alia, in gross violation of UDHR Article 2. In other words, Illiniwak violates these most fundamental protections of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inter alia, and thus violates customary international law and therefore the common law of both the United States and the State of Illinois. I wish to end this Memorandum by joining those eloquent and powerful words addressed to Trustee Susan Gravenhorst by Professor Mort Winston, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International, my fellow AIUSA Board Colleague and Comrade-in-Arms in the long but successful struggle against racism and apartheid in South Africa: In your present position as Chair of the Board of Trustees, you can steer university policy on this issue towards the greater good. I urge you to do so. UIUC's sport's fans and the marching band can find another mascot. Have a contest. Pick an animal or some culturally neutral symbol. Show some moral leadership so that perhaps the professional sports teams that also dishonor American Indians by debasing their cultural symbols will one day follow suit. But above all stop pretending that keeping "Chief Illiniwek" alive is somehow "honoring" the Native Americans who once roamed the plains where the University of Illinois now stands. In short, "Do the Right Thing -- Get Rid of the Chief!" F.A.B. 25 July 1997