Posted by Jack @ 8:44 pm on June 13th 2013

The Washington Redskins should change their name.

I confess that this is one of those things about which I never gave a second thought, and yet when I stumble upon even the most cursory explanation, it seem completely obvious. Of course they should change it! It’s damned offensive!

In light of recent Washington Redskins’ funded polls demonstrating widespread public acceptance and support for the existing name, I decided to unscientifically test my hypotheses that this was simply because most of the public had never been exposed to the counter argument in any form other than the most dismissive caricature. Today at work, without preamble, I asked a group of five coworkers if they thought the owners of the Redskins should change the team name. Not one of them thought they should. The reasons were varied: Never even considered it. Did not realize “redskins” is an offensive term. Resistance to “PC bullshit.” Respect for the team history, and a general assumption that it must surely represent a kind of honoring of Native Americans’ grit and fighting spirit.

Having recently stumbled across some info on a blog or three I threw out two points: 1) the term “redskins” is deemed quite offensive by most actual Native Americans (Google it!) and I asked, in light of that, if they would feel differently about the New York Kikes, the Pacific Chinks, The Carolina Darkies, or the San Francisco Faggots. 2) I gave a very short history of the Redskins former owner (overt white nationalist and vehement segregationist, George Marshall) and team (originally the Boston Braves which was only changed to the Redskins by Marshall in the mid twentieth century).

I got pushback:

– Where does it end? Do the Atlanta Braves have to change? The Florida State Seminoles? I replied by differentiating actually offensive names such as “Redskins” with those that are not, like “Braves” while suggesting that there are other, very different reasons that Native Americans oppose the latter. To wit: a bunch of corporate bastards profiting off the misery of our genocide is bad, but profiting off it while ridiculing our image and perpetuating racial slurs even worse.

– OK yeah maybe to all that, but it still is honoring the strength and warrior ethos of the “redskins.” The “New York Heebs” and whatnot is not a fair comparison. My reply (only not nearly this smooth or prepared): OK, what if the NY Kikes are a Donald Trump backed group competing in an investment reality TV show in which the goal was to win the most money? The Pacific Chinks are a crowd sourced chess team cultivating an “inscrutable” image? The Darkies are a jazz ensemble group from an upscale Savannah private High School? The SF Faggots are a corporate backed fashion design cadre competing in a collegiate level design contest? Are they now OK because they “honor” supposedly desirable characteristics of their team namesakes?

By the end of the conversation, of the five I had three at least seriously reconsidering their positions, one still completely locked in on the “but it honors their toughness,” and one having shifted from “absolutely not this is PC BS” to “I don’t care I have no opinion and I never did.” He was, of course, my most ardent opponent in this. He didn’t care very aggressively.

So your thoughts? Should they change it, if not why not, and if yes, do you think I am correct in that it is because the general public has not been exposed to basic cogent arguments for doing so, or is it something deeper? Or shallower?

8 Comments »

  1. They should change it, and the Cleveland Indians need to drop Chief Wahoo as their mascot/cap emblem:

    That being said, the actual real world allegory to a team name that exploits ethnic stereotypes among non-indigenous Americans is pretty obvious: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. And that one shouldn’t be changed; it doesn’t need to be because the success of the immigrant group in question has taken all the sting out of the insult.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/13/2013 @ 10:03 pm

  2. And, you know, being Irish they might fight you. Amirite?

    Here. All. Week.

    Comment by Adam — 6/13/2013 @ 11:13 pm

  3. Comment by Brad — 6/14/2013 @ 2:37 pm

  4. In response to this post a friend of mine sent me that exact same poster. As a NY Jew he was ready to endorse it only if they added dollar signs and some reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is a fascinating area to discuss with friends and coworkers. Its like Privilege 101.

    Comment by Jack — 6/16/2013 @ 8:56 pm

  5. Just to complicate things, I’m on the other side of the issue with regard to names like the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, and Kansas City Chiefs.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/18/2013 @ 12:51 pm

  6. Kansas City Chiefs should have to rename on account of a misleading description. They’re not bossing anything.

    Comment by Adam — 6/18/2013 @ 1:04 pm

  7. Great moments in baseball reaching out to Native Americans.

    Comment by Brad — 7/10/2013 @ 12:26 pm

  8. Damnit. I was gonna go to that game and scalp some tickets.

    Comment by Rojas — 7/10/2013 @ 6:21 pm

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