Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/13/13
I can say with reasonable confidence that whoever executed or conceived the Washington Redskins’ recent online campaign to defend their name is certifiably stupid. There are any number of reasons why the campaign fails — its failed premise, the fact that it doesn’t address actual criticism of the name, its straw-man setup — and we’ll get to all of those. However, there is one facet of Redskins’ series of high school profiles that makes me have no hesitation to call into the question the intelligence of someone I’ve never met — nor can even identify, seeing as how the Redskins don’t even have enough integrity to put a byline on their controversial profiles. On Wednesday, the Redskins’ official website posted the latest in a series of stories profiling various high schools around the county using the name “Redskins,” and their pride in doing so. On the surface, it seems as relatively innocuous as the first two, containing lots of meaningless tropes about “Redskins pride” and stuff like that. However, someone on Washington’s end clearly failed to check their facts. This version of the Redskins, from Lamar High School in Houston, is named for a man (1800s Texas politician Mirabeau B. Lamar) who actively tried to bring about the “total extinction” of Native Americans in Texas. So, a memo to whoever runs the Redskins’ website: If you’re trying to prove that you’re so proud of the heritage your name represents, maybe it’s not a good idea to glorify a high school named for a man who tried to ethnically cleanse said heritage. But this isn’t just Washington’s failing: It’s a failure of a great many people who still pathetically cling to their antiquated worldview to not recognize it’s instances like this which exemplify who a name like “Redskins” is no longer tenable in the 21st century. About a month ago I wrote about the general topic of offensive Native American names and logos in sports, and my main point still stands: The word “redskin” is self evidently a racial slur. If you can’t understand why that is, you’re likely too far gone to be helped, and deserve the full scorn of society and to be labeled as a racist. So, getting back to the Redskins’ argument, specifically, it fails on multiple levels. Beyond the fact that overlooks the genocidal history of Lamar, the basic premise of the argument is flatly flawed. What relevance does the fact that 70 high schools still use the name Redskins hold? Here’s a statistic for the Washington Redskins, courtesy of Uniwatch’s Paul Lukas: In 1971 there were about 3,000 K-12 schools, college and professional teams using Native American logos and imagery. Today? There are about 900. What happened to the “pride” of the more than 2,000 schools who voluntarily dropped their offensive monikers? Make no mistake, Redskins owner Dan Snyder is only shooting himself in the foot. The tide of public opinion as clearly and evidently turned against holding onto offensive imagery for the sake of posterity. Nonetheless, the owner continues to hold onto the name only to avoid the temporary loss of money, as a re-branding of the franchise would likely only temporarily devalue it. Either way, Snyder would clearly rather hang onto an extra few million dollars than and continue to exploit an already oppressed race of people than, you know, develop a soul. As for the rest of the general public who haven’t joined the rest of us here in 2013, it’s just kind of sad. The most common reply from the ignorant among the masses is that somehow the Redskins changing their name and logo would be an affront on free speech. But, what these people fail to realize is that a logo change is an affirmation of free speech, not an attack against it. No government entity is forcing the Redskins to do anything. If Washington does eventually decide to change it’s name, it’s simply a business decision responding to another group of people who are expressing their right to free speech by letting their distaste for racism be known. In short, for the pro-Redskins crowd, they fail to realize they’re just clearly on what will be the losing end of history and the war of ideas. And, to these kinds of people, speech is only free if it agrees with their opinion. So, there is some comfort in that. Eventually the Redskins will be forced to change their name or suffer the economic consequences. Likewise, the ignorant masses who continue to fail to see why a word like “redskin” isn’t obviously, plainly racist are growing fewer and fewer. For now, let’s just laugh at and shame the Redskins and their failure to check the most basic facts of their own argument.
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