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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why the Washington Football Team Should Change Their Racist Name

Credit: Redskins.com
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Momentum is building to change the offensive and outdated name of the Washington football team.

Momentum is building to change the offensive and outdated name of the Washington football team.

Whenever the name change comes up many fans throw out labels like "PC liberals" and "guilty white people"; or they will find obscure historical references to argue the name has positive meaning; or they will cite a Sports Illustrated survey that found the majority of First Nation people like the name, except that study was done more than ten years ago, before the country elected and then re-elected the first African-American president amid shifting racial attitudes; lastly, some of those who defend the name say it was meant to honor Boston Redskins head coach William Henry Dietz, who claimed to be of Native American ancestry, but that claim has been questioned.

And the founder and owner, George Preston Marshall, was a rabid racist and refused to integrate the team until he was forced to play an African-American after President John F. Kennedy's Interior Secretary Stewart Udall threatened to revoke the lease on D.C. stadium (now RFK). Read the excellent book "Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins" for more on this shameful period in the history of the franchise.

These arguments defending the name are not fair to the many people of all races and ethnicities who are uncomfortable with what they consider a racial slur. It's a way of diverting attention away from the real issue, which is the controversial name. And by the way, while Marshall was a white supremacist whose allies included the American Nazi Party, who picketed in 1961 outside of D.C. stadium with signs saying "Keep the Redskins White," the current owner is Dan Snyder, who is Jewish. You would think as a member of a persecuted minority group, Snyder would be more sympathetic to those calling for a change. Would he be OK with a team named the New York Kikes? Would quarterback Robert Griffin III be OK with a team named the Atlanta Darkies?

If you are still not convinced the name is offensive, here are some quotes that might change your mind. First of all, every major dictionary labels the name as offensive:

Oxford: dated offensive
Merriam-Webster: usually offensive
Cambridge: offensive old-fashioned for a Native American
The Free Dictionary: Offensive Slang. Used as a disparaging term for a Native American
Dictionary.com: Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive

Not convinced? Maybe Nazi leader Adolf Hitler will convince you. Hitler was inspired in his extermination policies towards the Jews by the genocidal policies of the United States towards Native Americans. Hitler used the term "Redskins" to refer to the racially inferior Russians who he wanted to conquer. Author James Pool, in his book "Hitler and His Secret Partners," writes that "having been a devoted reader of Karl May's books on the American West as a youth, Hitler frequently referred to the Russians as 'Redskins'. He saw a parallel between his effort to conquer and colonize land in Russia with the conquest of the American West by the white man and the subjugation of the Indians or 'Redskins'." Pool quotes Hitler as saying that "there's only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans, and to look upon the natives as Redskins."

The major dictionaries and the most evil man in the history of the world hasn't convinced you to even consider a name change? Still think that First Nation peoples all like the name and are proud of the Redskins? Perhaps this quote from Clem Ironwing, a Sioux, during a 1996 hearing regarding changing the name at Wichita North High School will change your mind:

"The word Redskin was taught to me at a very young age, and this is the meaning it has for me.

"I am a Native American. I grew up on an Indian reservation. As a child, the United States Government and the Catholic Church came into our homes, took us away from our families, and forced us into Catholic boarding schools. There was no choice to be had in this matter, you had to go. The Catholic Church with the blessings of the United States Government took it upon themselves to determine that we were savages, and needed to be transformed to fit into their society.

"When my hair was cut short by the priests, I was called a "redskin" and a savage. When I spoke my native tongue, I was beaten and called "redskin". When I tried to follow the spiritual path of my people, I was again beaten and called a "redskin". I was told by them to turn my back on the ways of my people, or I would forever be nothing but a dirty "redskin".

"The only way "redskin" was ever used towards my people and myself was in a derogatory manner. It was never, ever, used in a show of respect or kindness. It was only used to let you know that you were dirty and no good, and to this day still is.

"A long time ago, a group of people who had no knowledge of these facts, and who put no thought into what "redskin" actually meant chose to use this word for their mascot. A new group of people, now being confronted about it, have somehow decided it is their decision to change the meaning of this word to fit their purposes and agendas, but again have put no thought into its true meaning or what this word means to Native Americans."



About the Writer

Josh Marks is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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