really? again? sigh.

October 22, 2009

so normally i don’t get into political stuff on this blog, but i’ve been flipping through news items for my column and i keep seeing articles on this, and i’m just getting pissy about it. so, in case you haven’t heard–because, unlike me, you don’t have four listservs dumping native american news into your inbox every day – there’s currently a case before the supreme court to have the washington redskins stripped of their trademark protection, on the grounds that the name is too offensive to deserve said protection.

now, there are some teams–the florida state seminoles come to mind, but i know there are others–who use a native mascot with the blessing of a local tribe. the tribes, for their part, take the name in the spirit it was intended, as a tribute or honor. but this is different. no one is honored by a name like the “redskins,” no matter what the team’s proponents say. 

it doesn’t matter what the original intention of the name was. the road to hell was paved with good intentions, after all. if you intend to “honor” someone, and they tell you that, instead, you’re offending them and their ancestors, then back down. your intentions don’t matter one bit in terms of what the outcome is. 

normally i’m of the opinion that we are far too PC in this country, far too afraid of offending people. but you know what? this is different. the team’s name is a freaking racial slur. you wouldn’t call them the washington kikes, would you?



  1. So how do you feel about the Cleveland Indians? Or at least their mascot?

  2. yeah, that one ranks up there. i guess mostly i just can’t believe the argument has been going on so long, and that people get so pissed about it (proponents of the mascots, i mean). it’s amazing to read these articles where white people are getting all up in arms and vehemently proclaiming that the mascots are honoring native people. a few years back, i even recall reading an editorial where a white guy said that native people are too close to this issue and are taking it too emotionally and so they should defer to the more distant, “objective” fews of mainstream american culture.

    no really, someone really wrote that. and then published it.

    the other argument that bugs me is when people point to teams like the minnesota vikings and the notre dame fighting irish and say that since people don’t object to those, then indians shouldn’t object to names like redskins. to which i say:
    a) nobody’s objecting, so clearly nobody’s offended, so clearly it’s not the same situation;
    b) while the irish and, to a lesser extent, scandinavians in some parts of the country, do have a history of oppression by the mainstream culture, it’s not quite the same lengthy history of oppression and cultural misappropriation that indians have with mainstream society;
    c) the vikings are a team in minnesota, where there’s a large scandinavian population; the fighting irish are mascots of a catholic university with a strong connection to irish catholics. if the situation were reversed and a bunch of indians were calling themselves the fighting irish, people might get upset;
    d) viking is neither an epithet nor an insult, and neither is the fighting irish, exactly. again, if a team was called something like the minnesota squareheads or the notre dame drunken paddies, then people might get pissed.

    so there’s my long answer. now with extra ranty.

  3. I’ve got to call my bookie and put a hundred on the Drunken Paddies vs. the Kikes for Sunday. Wait– how drunken are my paddies here? It really effects the odds.

  4. just drunk enough to be excellent football players (a willingness to fight, a lack of concern for their future mental faculties), but not too drunk to stand.

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