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Should the Redskins Be Forced To Change Their Mascot?

Change the Mascot is a campaign organized by the Oneida Indian Nation to get the Redskins to change their mascot. KRLD, which broadcasts Cowboys games, has been airing ads that urge the team from Washington to ditch what the Oneida Indian Nation considers a racial slur. I hate to say this. It makes me nervous to do so. But I think I agree with Mark Davis on this one. Here’s some of what he wrote in the Morning News yesterday:

Revisit the Basic Truth of Sports Team Names: No one has ever named a team for something they considered dishonorable or distasteful. Every name ever affixed to a team has been to portray the team in a positive light.

This was true of the Boston Redskins when they adopted that imagery 80 years ago, and it was true when the team name stuck five years later in a move to Washington.

At that time, and today, Redskin has no body of usage as an epithet in its own right. None. The attachment of a negative modifier in old movies (dirty, bloody) no more stigmatizes the term itself than the adjectives that have been attached to Yankee over the years, and that doesn’t seem to torture New Yorkers.

You want to get lathered up about Native American imagery? Go talk to Cleveland.


Update (10:37) — Eric saw this post and pointed me to the Nation’s take-down of Rick Reilly’s defense of the Redskins name. Eric compared Reilly’s argument with Davis’. The two aren’t comparable. Everything Reilly wrote, as The Nation points out, is silly. I don’t buy into his arguments. But Davis’ argument about the name itself, it makes sense prima facie. The name Redskins itself is not offensive. What is offensive — and I needed a few minutes to realize this, because I am, apparently, a huge racist — is committing genocide on a people and then naming a sports team after them. And, yes, yes, I realize that Daniel Snyder did not commit genocide. But you get my point. Even if you named a football team The Noble Fighting Native Americans, that would still be a bad move.

So to clarify as I reconsider: I agree with Mark Davis. But I also think the Redskins name was a bad choice. Can we keep the Fighting Irish, though? Please?