It is astonishing how well men wear when they think of no one but themselves.
- Bulwer-Lytton, English Novelist and Poet (1803-1873)
For the man who owns the NFL team that plays in Washington, D.C., a lot of people have been giving Dan Snyder their two cents on whether he should or shouldn’t rename his team. Last week, Obama decided to stir the racial pot yet again with this quote:
“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team – even if it had a storied history – that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.” – Barack Obama
source: NBC Sports
This attempt to rile the natives comes despite the fact that a poll shows only 9% of Native Americans call the Redskins name offensive themselves. Not exactly a “sizable” group of offended people there, Mr. President.
This isn’t the first time political correctness has spurred debate over the names of D.C. sports teams. In 1995, as owner of the city’s NBA Team, Abe Pollin announced the Washington Bullets would change their name after 23 years. A contest was held and the name selected was the Wizards. While it may have helped clear the conscience of some fans who had misgivings rooting for the Bullets in a city with such a high crime rate, another group began to cry foul over the new name “Wizard” being a word used in the rankings of the Ku Klux Klan.
Sometimes you just can’t win with these team names. What was it Lincoln said? “You can please some of the people some of the time . . . “
So back with the Redskins controversy, after Obama reignited the debate, we saw this bit of gasoline poured on the fire by the New York Daily News:
The hysteria continues, with a Virginia newspaper now vowing to censor its own pages in saying they will be “expunging the nickname of the Washington professional football team” from their news and editorial columns. To top it off, several schools in D.C. want to ban team jerseys from their classrooms.
Many fans of tradition mention how the Redskins are a storied team with 80 years of NFL history to their name, but there’s another side to that coin. As Krauthammer points out in in his read on the controversy, the overtones of a word can change dramatically over time as did with the word “negro”. In his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the word “negro” fifteen times. That was simply the word people used back then. Now the word has such a heavy connotation of ugly signs and uglier times that that word has been banished from popular usage.
Ultimately, the only people whose opinions matter on the Redskins’ name are the Native Americans themselves. The fact that the vast majority of Native Americans are not offended by the Redskins name and can respect other teams wanting to fight like a Brave or a Chief or pay direct tribute to the tribes that were in that region originally, like the Seminoles or the Blackhawks doesn’t matter to the professional agitators, however. The opinions of Native Americans will only matter to them if they can manage to turn Native Americans against these team names.
For these people who have even less right to claim Native American status than Elizabeth Warren did getting into Harvard, for the non-Natives inciting outrage and promoting a sense of victimhood, it’s is all a part of the playbook. These people’s careers in politics and in the media are built on dividing America, on pushing a message that you and your ancestors were oppressed, that only by placing your faith in the Almighty Government can you redress the wrongs and “punish your enemies“.