Skip to main content

Lanny Davis, once a Bill Clinton strategist, a pal of Joe Lieberman and now attorney for the Washington, D.C., NFL football franchise, chastised President Obama Monday for commenting unfavorably on the name of that team. In a Saturday interview, the president said:
"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 sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it[.]"
. . .
"I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here," the president said. "They love their team, and rightly so—even though they've been having a pretty tough time this year. But I think—all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it. And I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things."
Mr. Davis said the president ought to be focused on other things, challenged him because he hasn't complained about the name of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team and pointed out that an Associated Press poll last April found four out of five Americans don't see the name of the Washington Redskins as offensive.

Sigh. In America today, anyone who defends the use of "nigger" or "chink" or "spic" or "Raghead" outside a Klan meeting or some other pocket of ignorance and hatred, gets treated like the racist s/he is. Anyone who showed up at a party in blackface and began tap-dancing would be ejected, and not too gently.

If somebody decided to buy the Tennessee Titans and rename them the Nashville N----s, can it be doubted that the outcry would be heard nationwide?

Imagine what would happen if every time Robert Griffin weaved himself 30 yards downfield, the crowd leaped up to shout "Go Kikes!" The outcry would long ago have forced a change. But "Redskins"? That still gets a pass.

"Redskins" is treated differently than all these others. As is redface—adult non-Indians dressing up and delivering tomahawk chops and "Ugh, me big chief" talk. Plenty of places you can still get away with that without raising an eyebrow. Thus, we still have people defending the name of the Washington Redskins and the despicable Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians baseball team and resistant to changing either.

Please read below the fold for more about this infuriating situation.

Most people, we Indians are told, don't find these matters offensive. In fact, we're told—with a straight face—that these names and this mascot (and other caricatured team mascots) actually honor indigenous people. So, we're told, not really asked, what's the problem?

This, in fact, happens to us Indians all the time because so few non-Indian Americans are aware of the impact many common expressions have. We Indians often hear non-Indians describing one of these racist put-downs with a comment such as oh-that's-not-racist. Or I-don't-mean-it-offensively. Thus does "squaw" and "chief" and "off the reservation" or "casino Indian" get used frequently. We try, most of us, patiently to explain what's wrong with these usages, just as we patiently explain why having a football team in the nation's capital still named the "Redskins" in the 21st century is, frankly, grotesque. People's defense of keeping the name makes the offense worse.

Some of those defenders will go to just about any lengths to make their case, including putting a fake chief up like some cigar store Indian to say he has no problem with the name. So it must be okay.

No it isn't. It's racist.

Thankfully, over the past few years, more and more non-Indians have gotten the message in the Washington team's hometown, including writers such as Robert McCartney at the Washington Post earlier this year. There was even a symposium on the issue in D.C. in February. The pressure is on and the president has added some helpful support.

As Ray Halbritter, the leader of the Oneida tribe, told the Associated Press: "When one of the most valuable franchises in the NFL is using a racial epithet, how do you explain that to the children? How do you explain how it makes you feel as a human being?"

That the president has weighed in doesn't mean the change will happen immediately. The National Congress of American Indians has, for decades, sought to get teams to drop the "Redskins" name. It has had considerable success at the college and high school levels. But the resistance, as Davis and the Washington team's owner Dan Snyder have made clear, will continue.

And we should expect the team to trot out a couple more bona fide Indians to say they don't think the name is offensive. That's a trick we've seen used against us quite a few times in the past 400 years.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 09:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Bob Johnson, Pat K California, JekyllnHyde, Angie in WA State, Sylv, Armando, Sean Robertson, copymark, TrueBlueMajority, Dave the Wave, livosh1, mimi, OLinda, dsb, willyr, elfling, MarkInSanFran, hubcap, Florida Democrat, 88kathy, 714day, susans, TracieLynn, highacidity, Pithy Cherub, boadicea, mikidee, roses, sngmama, mollyd, navajo, wader, SneakySnu, edrie, psnyder, figbash, Eyesbright, defluxion10, betson08, renaissance grrrl, samoashark, Sophie Amrain, Kitsap River, mungley, randallt, Hillbilly Dem, KayCeSF, Emmy, American in Kathmandu, Sassy, sawgrass727, Dirk McQuigley, vcmvo2, Bluesee, ichibon, greatferm, Jensequitur, craigkg, basquebob, dewtx, Laurence Lewis, Kevskos, Pam from Calif, Sara R, where4art, GreyHawk, Tunk, Shotput8, Ekaterin, kathny, kovie, snazzzybird, Captain Sham, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, edwardssl, dopper0189, smokeymonkey, dougymi, Shakludanto, kck, MJ via Chicago, gpoutney, Rosaura, gooderservice, el cid, justiceputnam, bignoise, CA Nana, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Ian Reifowitz, AllanTBG, cpresley, BentLiberal, tegrat, Tamar, old wobbly, BeninSC, hooper, Loudoun County Dem, devis1, EdSF, aravir, Mary Mike, la urracca, Dave in Northridge, MI Sooner, carpunder, CT Hank, Timmethy, leonard145b, TomP, fb, eparrot, JayC, VelvetElvis, kimoconnor, GAS, Sixty Something, Involuntary Exile, bythesea, kjboy27, rssrai, tofumagoo, mofembot, petulans, BYw, Nica24, Anjana, kpbuick, forgore, oldliberal, legendmn, maggiejean, WhizKid331, LinSea, not a cent, dharmasyd, TheFern, maryabein, scarletraven, rbird, Remediator, Denise Oliver Velez, stevenwag, moviemeister76, Flyswatterbanjo, astral66, joe from Lowell, citisven, Larsstephens, HoopJones, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, smileycreek, rb137, FogCityJohn, The Jester, David Harris Gershon, SeattleTammy, mookins, BenderRodriguez, Polly Syllabic, Lost and Found, mjbleo, Eddie L, JoanMar, samanthab, paradise50, rja, Nada Lemming, mallyroyal, slice, no way lack of brain, annieli, Front Toward Enemy, MidwestTreeHugger, Lost Left Coaster, slowbutsure, La Gitane, FarWestGirl, asterkitty, NormAl1792, Alice Olson, marleycat, Lorikeet, sethtriggs, thomask, Ojibwa, BarackStarObama, Tommy Aces, KVoimakas, Musial, shaso, OnePingOnly, Imhotepsings, Democrats Ramshield, cactusgal, blue aardvark, jaebone, Azazello, Monsieur Georges, BlueDragon, Sister Inspired Revolver of Freedom, Pinto Pony, GenXangster, anodnhajo, DeadHead, greenbastard, Aji, pitbullgirl65, a2nite, peachcreek, jan4insight, belinda ridgewood, reginahny, Arahahex, MartyM, burnt out, doroma, Buckeye54, terrybuck, Glen The Plumber, YsosadisticGOP, countwebb, BroadBlogs, Daniel Sheehan, gypsytoo, Southcoast Luna, aresea, knitwithpurpose, ORswede, howabout, JosephK74, Smoh, Avilyn, Grandson named me Papa, Fordmandalay, Blazehawkins, LilithGardener, Lakota Peoples Law Project, Madonna Thunder Hawk, Kimbeaux, NonEuclidian, Catkin, oslyn7, Kombema, dreamweaver1, lbl1162, Mark Mywurtz, Ticorules, SusiesPurl, Kit RMP, Chase Iron Eyes, theBreeze, RhodeIslandAspie

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site