My position on the propriety of the use of “Redskins” as the nickname for the Washington NFL football team is well documented here. Let me summarize it briefly:
1. The team name is offensive to many – but not all – members of a minority group in the US. The team name carries racial derogatory baggage.
2. The history of the team name and the motivation for giving the team that name more than 70 years ago is open to debate. The problem with “having the debate” is that the “debate” is irrelevant to the current sensitivity to the name.
3. The maintenance of the name by team owner Daniel M. Snyder – who said he will “NEVER” change the name – is as much an economic stance as it is a firmly held belief in the importance of “team history”.
4. There are loads of people who jump on the bandwagon of the cause to ban the team name periodically with the fervor of televangelists and those people come across as phonies. I have referred to many of these folks as breast-beaters and self-flagellators at times. I have little use for them.
My position on the use of the term “Redskins” is that I will not use the word in any context other than to identify the NFL’s Washington franchise and I only use it there because – in point of fact – that is the team name. I am not making any moral judgments in the matter; if I owned the team, I would change the name. However, an important part of my position is that I do not own the team and Daniel M. Snyder does.
Today, the Washington Post felt moved to join the discussion of the “team name controversy”. The Post is the dominant paper in the DC metro area and highly regarded nationally – unless one cannot abide the paper’s “left-of-center position” on most political and social issues. The Post has a loud voice in the DC area so what they say often has an effect on what happens in the area. And as of today, with regard to the issue of the team name for the Washington football team, the Washington Post speaks with forked tongue…
Yesterday, NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, went on one of the local sports talk stations here – not one of the ones owned by Daniel M. Snyder – and said with regard to the name “Redskins” that if even one person is offended by the name, the NFL needs to listen to that person and to make sure that the league is doing the right things. Lots of folks see this as a change in position for Goodell – and by extension for the NFL – when compared to his recent response to a bunch of grandstanding Congressthings who called for the NFL to force the team to change its name. Only a few months ago, Goodell responded to those Congressthings saying:
“…the [team] name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
I acknowledge that The Commish seems to have changed positions recently although not to the seismic proportions others see it – because those others really want the name to be changed by any means possible. However, the Post took this as a way to demonstrate either hypocrisy or impotence – or perhaps both.
The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post makes it clear that the paper is on the side of a name-change:
“…Mr. Snyder should be prepared for the controversy never to end. The clamor for change only grows with time.
“We urge Mr. Snyder to have more faith than that in his fan base and to listen more carefully to those who love the team and hate the ethnic slur.”
So, where is the hypocrisy and the impotence in those words – and the others you can choose to read if you follow the link above? You can find that in today’s Sports Section of the Washington Post. This is not a “game-day”; there is only one column today about the Redskins (by Jason Reid) and only one topical article about the team (by Mark Maske) and a few notes and sidebars about injuries or coaches’ comments or things of that ilk. If I were looking at the Post Sports Section the day after a Redskins’ game, there would be pages and pages of coverage.
In this meager coverage day, I counted the use of the word “Redskins” 28 times. If you follow these rants, you know that I am not an accomplished proofreader, so that number is the minimum number of times the word appears today – in a newspaper where the lead editorial in full pontificatorial tone calls for a change in the team name that the Post identifies as an “ethnic slur”.
So, I ask the folks who run the Post – at least for the moment until the new management takes over there:
Do you routinely allow your reporters to use “ethnic slurs” in their writing in any other context?
You acknowledge that you have advocated for a name change since 2006, and yet you perpetuate the use of the offensive word on a daily basis. Is that because you fear losing access to the team if you offend Daniel M. Snyder?
For those of you poised to accuse me of hypocrisy here since I use the term “Redskins” more than occasionally, allow me to point out that I have not advocated name change or name retention for the team. I call the team what it calls itself without simultaneously seeking to stake out a moral high ground in a debate I believe is economic and not moral.
Too bad it took the Post until 2006 to come to its conclusion that the team name is an ethnic slur. Had they reached that state of enlightenment ten years sooner, the Washington Post Company could have purchased the franchise when Jack Kent Cooke’s estate was forced to sell the team. The Post then was a moneymaking machine that could have coughed up the $800M Daniel Snyder bid for the team without skipping a beat. Had the Post reached their enlightenment then and opened up the wallet then, the world would be spared all of this agita because the folks who run the Post would certainly not tolerate such an evil team name.
Except maybe 28 times in its own Sports Section…
“The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.” William Hazlitt
“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” Edmund Burke
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………