Chris Graham: Hail to the … Redskins?
Well, yes, of course, it should. And also, of course, no, it shouldn’t.
How’s that for the wishy-washiest of wishy-washy answers?
First, to the, yes, of course, it should. There’s no question that the term Redskins is offensive to Native Americans.
(The term Native Americans itself is probably offensive to Native Americans, for what that’s worth. The word American is ours, not theirs, for one thing. And native can come across as quite patronizing.)
Back to the column. Redskins is offensive. No question about that. Anything making a group of people into a mascot is offensive. See also Cowboys, Packers, Vikings, Yankees, Cavaliers, Fighting Irish.
You’re safer these days sticking with animals – Bears, Cubs – or generic, meaningless names like Heat, Thunder and Hokies.
(Beware of Cougars. Attractive middle-aged women will be offended at that one.)
Now to the no, of course, it shouldn’t side of the argument. One, see above. It’s hard to run away from anything on the grounds that it might or might not offend. PETA is just as likely to object to animal names and mascots as anything else.
Two, is the battle over this one really worth fighting? I realize writing this column is likely to trigger deep criticism of what could be perceived as a racist attitude on my part from some quarters. The impetus for me to broach this topic came from comments from liberal friends on Facebook who raised objection to the Redskins name and logo in the wake of the run of public attention on the fortunes of the Washington football team’s magical run to the 2012-2013 NFL playoffs.
Which got me to thinking. OK, let’s imagine a successful effort to get the team to change its name, to something benign, like Red Storm or RedHawks. The franchise, after initial efforts to resist the latest extension of the long arm of the PC-police law, would make out like bandits from selling new hats and T-shirts and sweatshirts and jerseys to fans who would need to replace their outdated team gear.
Native Americans, by and large, are unaffected by the change.
The liberal activists whose efforts would lead to the change would turn their attention to the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians before becoming concerned about the Yankees and Notre Dame and the Dallas Cowboys.
(One of my Facebook friends upset about the Redskins name also expressed hurt feelings over Cowboys. Seriously.)
Keep in mind as I write this … I’m a liberal activist. In favor a constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage. Also in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana. I went to college planning to become a civil-rights lawyer before becoming a friggin’ journalist.
Yeah, I got it bad. And I think this fight isn’t a fight worth fighting.
Which brings me to …
Hail to the Redskins!