Democracy does not measure what everybody wants. It measures what voters want, and convincing people to vote a certain way is not so hard as convincing them to vote at all. Yesterday, the village of Whitesboro, New York voted to keep its official seal, which depicts the village founder throwing an Indian to the ground. It was a victory for residents who knew their history. The seal does not symbolize white supremacy over Indians; it merely depicts the symbolic turning point in the village’s founding, which happened when the unfortunately named Hugh White defeated an Oneida Indian in a wrestling match. I admit it’s counterintuitive, but the Whitesboro residents who voted to keep the seal know their history—all 157 of them. The final vote was 157 to 55. That’s a turnout of 5.7% of the total Whitesboro population.
When I first saw an article claiming that residents of Whitesboro, New York would vote on whether to change their official town seal, pictured above, I assumed it was heavy-handed satire. The name “Whitesboro” is obviously made up, and even if it weren’t, there’s no way any town would adopt as its official seal an image of a pioneer choking an Indian to the ground. Satire should be a little absurd, but it can’t be completely on-the-nose like that. Maybe if you made a seal showing pioneers eating at a big table while hungry Indians peeked in from the background, maybe that would work. But then I checked the mostly reliable New York Daily News, and it turns out Whitesboro is an actual place with that actual seal.