Over the past few weeks and months, Washington has been in an uproar. All sorts of political pundits and leaders have commented on how difficult the situation is, and even the President has weighed in with his opinion, although that hasn’t done much to settle the impasse.
Glenn Beck is in his corner, throwing his opinion at anyone who wants to hear it, and most likely forcing it on those who don’t. He has gone on the offensive on the issue lately, calling one of his opponents a “sanctimonious piece of crap”, “senile” and “wildly arrogant.”
For those thinking that this is an indictment on our elected officials who can’t seem to agree on how to run the government (or our recent lack thereof one), you are reading the wrong section of this paper.
What I am referring to is the current pressure that is on Daniel Snyder, the current owner of the Washington Redskins, to change his team’s name to something less controversial. The battle over what we should call that certain football team from our nation’s capital is as heated as ever. But why?
At the heart of this issue is not who should or should not be commenting on this, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I see nothing wrong with President Obama giving his opinion on the matter, just as I don’t see anything wrong with Bob Costas offering his during the halftime show of last Sunday’s Sunday Night Football game. It is the aforementioned Costas who was the subject of Glenn Beck’s rant, saying that Costas is “trying to make us hate each other even more.”
Although Mr. Beck may be taking Costas’ commentary a little too far and is way off base calling him “senile” among other things, for the first time in my life, I may agree with the man.
I don’t know why some sportswriters, like Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, or publications, like the online magazine Slate, feel the need to abstain from saying the name of the team. I’ll say the name of the team right now: Redskins.
See? Nothing happened. The editors of this paper won’t change it or take it out of print either, which is more than I can say about some of my past 4×5 answers.
This however, is not the point either. President Obama, Bob Costas, Glenn Beck, and I should not influence or determine the fate of the Redskins’ moniker. No singular person really should hold that much influence. The only people that should have control over that mascot and that name are the people directly affected by the name: the real-life Redskins, Native Americans.
If the majority of Native Americans are thoroughly outraged at the symbol, then we need to absolutely and unequivocally change it, and fast. No sports team name should come before the feelings of the people it is representing. If Native Americans are, on the whole, offended by the Redskins’ brand then Mr. Snyder needs to put his pride aside and make the change to the Washington Redtails, Redhawks, or whatever other name they deem fit.
But what happens when the majority of Native Americans are not offended by the name?
In a poll by the Annenberg Institute, 90 percent of Native Americans nationwide were not bothered by the name ‘Washington Redskins.’
Granted, that poll was taken in 2004, and I’m sure there would be some difference in opinion in a more current poll. There is also the problem with people identifying as Native American who are not, which would skew the results more. But even if the number of those who are offended by it has doubled, should the name be changed to please two out of every ten Native Americans?
What if I had a problem with the team name the Fighting Irish? As someone with Irish heritage, I could take offense to that, as it labels the Irish as a violent people. Should the University of Notre Dame change their team name to something else, simply because I see their mascot of a small, red-bearded man in a ridiculous outfit as demeaning to me?
If there were so much widespread outrage over the name, surely we would see the ratings for Redskins games dropping every week. The jerseys would stop selling. Companies would stop wanting to be affiliated with the team. Players would stop wanting to play for the team, wearing that uniform.
But none of that is happening.
For now, it appears the Redskins are just avoiding the inevitable. In a matter of years or maybe decades, the name will eventually change. I am perfectly fine with that, assuming more Native Americans have a problem with the name in the future. But right now, it seems that Americans are over- apologetic for a term that many do not see as offensive.
In the era of political correctness, white Americans are fighting a battle over something that is not ours, for a people who generally don’t care about it.
Those who wish the name to change are wrong, but for the right reasons. Those who want to keep the Redskins name intact are right, but for the wrong reasons.