Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader has finally been able to galvanize his colleagues into bipartisan action. He wrote to Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League telling him to change the name of the Washington Redskins because it was clearly racist.
Dan Snyder, the franchise owner has vowed never to change the name, and had Bruce Allen, the President of the organization write to the Commissioner. He said the team was a positive, unifying force for the community; adding that it was one of the NFL’s flagship franchises, played in 11 NFL championship games, been world champions five times, and that the Redskins team name carried “ a deep and purposeful meaning for millions”.
Allen exhorted Redskin fans, to ” show your pride and tell Senator Reid what this team means to you”. This strategy backfired badly, lots of people said they loved the team, but not the name. Allen, responded that the term Redskin actually originated as a Native American expression of solidarity”. Not really, when a Native American speaks of his or her red skin with pride and strong identity, that’s different than when white man says it. When white man used Redskins it has a hint of derogation. When that term was first used it was invariably preceded by an adjective like damn, heathen, dirty, or murdering.
Bruce Allen said that the overwhelming majority of Native Americans did not find the name offensive. I don’t know who did this survey nor, who was interviewed, how the questions were asked, but I personally doubt the surveys conclusions. The truth is most of my Native friends think it’s a well- orchestrated PR campaign to promote product sales; and the Redskins Original Americans Foundation which has contributed 1,000 tablet computers to Native American students, a laughable pittance.
What I find most interesting is that our government, which has been paralyzed by partisanship for the last 7 years, was able to mobilize so much passion and purpose about the name Washington Redskins. Proves that you have to be a bit of a putz to be a politician which is why I suggest the team be renamed the Washington Foreskins to remind us of what the business of politics is all about.