Opinion | Fight for the Fight Song

Garrett Marchand, Contributing Columnist

“He who controls the language controls the masses,” said American activist Saul Alinsky in his book, “Rules for Radicals.”   

A few weeks ago, a predictable controversy arose at the University regarding the use of the word Dixie in the school’s fight song, “Yea, Alabama!”

In many ways, it should be unsurprising that the University would be the target of such a controversy. Over the past few years, the University has been plagued with numerous attempts to separate it from its culture and traditions. Just look at the many buildings that have been renamed. The most well-known example of this trend is the renamed Ferguson Student Center, now the UA Student Center.

Dixie has represented the South for as long as anyone can remember. I, along with most people, have never once heard of Dixie having any sort of racist meaning or connotation. 

This is why it was such a surprise that a faculty member at the University, associate professor Cassandra Simon, would object to the word’s use based on the claim that it sends an unpleasant message to Black students. Simon wrote “The song’s lyrics are based on the 1925 football season and the 1926 Rose Bowl, pointedly before persons of African descent were allowed to be here at any time as anyone, except as laborers, paid and unpaid and enslaved persons. Thus, we recognize that the use of the term ‘Dixie’ in the fight song is reflective of those times…” 

This is ironic, given that today the term Dixie is used in a fight song primarily celebrating a majority Black football lineup.

To be fair, one must acknowledge that Dixie has been used in a derogatory fashion in the past. However, just because a word has been used in a derogatory fashion does not make the word itself derogatory. We cannot simply give up a word because people have misused it in the past.

Such an argument that all things that have been used in a derogatory manner in the past must be eliminated from the language would undoubtedly remove many words commonly spoken today. As with people, if one looks too far into a word’s history, one will inevitably find something unseemly.

Let’s say we give in to such a change as to remove the word Dixie from the fight song. By such logic, we, too, should remove “Dixieland Delight” from football games. However, the organizers of this movement against “Yea, Alabama!” say we can keep “Dixieland Delight.” 

Such people only wish to push their agenda step by step in an effort to blind the general public to their end goals.

The students and faculty at the University need to stand up against a change to the fight song. If you genuinely care about the culture at this school or the  truth in general, stand up for “Yea, Alabama!” 

After all, think of the many words that have suddenly become derogatory over the past few years.

Fight for the fight song.