Slate is an on-line magazine that covers news, politics, sports and popular culture. It is currently owned by the Washington Post although with the recent sale of that enterprise, the new owners have passed on picking up Slate in the deal. It can hardly be called a neutrally political site and certainly leans left. It was originally formed in 1996 by Michael Kinsley, then the editor of another left-of-center magazine, The New Republic. Any outlet that gives a voice to the likes of a Paul Krugman ceases to be neutral in the political sense. And he is but one example of the liberal bent of this on-line magazine.
As a result, Slate recently made a “major” announcement which is the stupid quote of the day:
This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins. For decades, American Indian activists and others have been asking, urging and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and and an insult to Indians…Why then has nothing changed? Because the choice of the team’s name belongs to one person, Washington owner Daniel Snyder.
Slate then goes on to criticize Snyder, although they stop short of calling him a racist for keeping the team’s name. There is no doubt that Snyder is a somewhat controversial NFL owner. During his tenure, the Redskins have had only four winning seasons. They have had seven coaches in 13 years and several quarterbacks in that time frame which is hardly the picture of consistency. Regarding the on-field performance of the Redskins, it has been the subject of articles in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia press as well as the New York Times and even the Wall Street Journal. Criticizing Snyder’s performance as an NFL owner is one thing and fair game. But, that is not really the purpose of this great declaration by the fine folks at Slate. Instead, they are basically arguing that the name “Redskins” is a racist slur and should be relegated to the same dustbin where the “N” word and “F” word now reside. At one time, the “F” word was something else, a slang term for a sexual act, but it has, in the liberal mind, morphed into an unacceptable reference to homosexuals. And as an aside, when did referring to people from the general area occupied by China as “Oriental” become offensive and racist? Instead, I’ve been told, the preferred reference should be “Asian.” But, Asia is a large continent and the Chinese have little in common with Bengalis or Indians or Saudi Arabians or Israelis- all occupants of Asia. I guess we now have the “O” word also.
There is currently a bill pending in the House of Representatives that would revoke the “redskins” trademark from the Washington NFL team. One needs only look at the bill’s sponsors to realize that this nothing but linguistic political correctness running amok. They include Raul Grijalva, Karen Bass, John Lewis, Gwen Moore, Michael Honda and Betty McCollum. The only Republican listed is Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Native American who claims the phrase is “racist.” Citing the fact that the city of Washington is also the capital of political correctness, he claims that using the “Redskins” moniker for a team based in the nation’s capital does the city and Native Americans a disservice.
Changing the name of the team would result in serious economic hardships for the Redskins and their ownership. But that alone should not necessarily be the primary consideration. Instead, one needs to look at how the team and their ownership treat the name. Tom Cole notes that the name was originally derived as a racial slur against Native Americans and dates back to 1775. He said it is different from other references to Indians in other sports names like the Chiefs, the Braves, the Black Hawks or even the Fightin’ Sioux of North Dakota. Nowhere in the history of the Washington Redskins have Native Americans been disparaged in action or thought by the ownership or the team’s management. Personally, the Cleveland Indians’ laughing, goofy looking Native American logo should create greater outcry than the name “Redskins.” Mike Freeman of CBS Sports states that one would think differently if the Washington NFL team was named the Washington Niggers. After all, DC has a large African-American population. But no one would dare name the team that because it would be offensive. Likewise, “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans, although one has to wonder how many Native Americans actually reside in DC. All of this is according to Mr. Freeman at CBS Sports.
This is perhaps the silliest attempt to change the culture and the language that liberals have used in a long time. Not necessarily a believer in the obligatory slippery slope argument espoused by many on either side, one can realistically see any sports team moniker that may offend a sliver of America’s population. Think about where this can lead. The Irish in Boston can take offense to the Celtics while the Dutch should be in an uproar over the New York Knicks, short for Knickerbocker. If I were of Scandanavian heritage, shame on those Minnesota Vikings- pillagers and rapists of Europe. Celebrating the Viking is akin to celebrating carnage and rape. Why is there no outrage in Vancouver over the name of their hockey club- the Canucks. Surely Canuck is a slur against all Canadians. And of course the Montreal Canadiens could be considered a “slur” also to sensitive Canadians, especially since the team uses the French spelling of the word “Canadian.” How dare those Francophones in Quebec!
In college, we have the Illinois Fighting Illini which I guess is an Indian tribe. There is no outcry against that team name because they are “fighting.” Perhaps the Southern Florida Moccasins offend the native water moccasin snake. The Michigan Spartans may offend Greeks and the USC Trojans are doubly offensive against Italians and wearers of condoms. What about the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, not to mention that menacing depiction of an Irishman with his dukes up ready to battle. The University of Pennsylvania Quakers are an affront to every practitioner of pacifist religious sects and that name should be banned. My all-time favorite is the name of the Atlanta team in the former Negro Baseball League- the Atlanta Black Crackers.
If we are going to change the name of the Redskins, then every team should consider their name so as not to potentially offend anyone. Who could be offended by the Washington Chipmunks? Of course, the name would hardly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. However, if they must change their name so as not to be offensive to Native Americans, I propose the following name: the Washington Poor, Oppressed, Robbed of Their Land by Mean White European Settlers and Forced Onto Reservations, People of Deeper Skin Color Than Your Average Caucasian, Natives of North America Formerly Known As Redskins.”