If President Obama owned the Washington Redskins, he'd think about changing the name. Considering the 'sizable group' that it offends, the real owner should too. By Michael Tomasky.
Bravo to Obama for his comments yesterday about the Washington football club:
President Obama says that if he owned the Washington Redskins, he would ‘think about changing’ the team name, wading into the controversy over a football nickname that many people deem offensive to Native Americans. Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names like the Redskins offend ‘a sizable group of people.’ He said that while fans get attached to the nicknames, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place. ‘I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,’ he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday...
Good. It's more embarrassing by the week, that name, and the more I read comment threads from the ignorami who denounce political correctness and instruct the rest of us to just deal with it, constantly pointing to one poll that is now nearly a decade old, the more plainly humiliating and reactionary and deplorable the whole business becomes. And it seems that more and more people are thinking about it my way.
I took the WaPo's insta-poll this morning online. Nonscientific. You'd expect that to come out in 80-20 keep the name range. But it was only 60-40 in favor of keeping. That's among Washington Post sports page readers. If I were a reactionary ignoramus, those numbers would make me plenty nervous.
I hope devoutly that Obama's opinion breaks down some of the resistance to change within the team's African American fan base, which of course is rather huge. If they start to think twice about how they'd feel if the team were called the Washington Sambos, that could represent a huge point-swing in polls on the name-change question.
Joe Gibbs is quoted in the Post today as having said recently: “I never ever thought of it as anything negative, but it’s all been a positive and I think that’s what I reflect on when I reflect on the song, the games and everybody being loyal Redskin people.”
All you really need from that quote are its first four words. He never ever thought. That's the thing. It never occurred to him that Redskins was offensive, and in this, he's like millions of people, who never ever thought about it either. And there's only one reason they never thought about it, which is that Native Americans have never had the political muscle to make them think about it.
I used the word Sambo above. Some will remember that there used to be a restaurant chain in this country called Sambo's. Like Denny's and Big Boy. The chain started in 1957 and by the late 70s had more than 1,000 oiutlets around the country.
But the late 70s is also the time when black people started to have political muscle in our system, and when corporate American started identifying black people as a market to be cultivated and catered to. So a campaign was started to rid the country of Sambos outlets, and in short order, they were almost all gone.
But American Indians have no muscle and aren't a market. And those are the only reasons why a name like the one used by the Washington football club can stick. Dan Snyder is a smart-enough man to understand how political power works in this country, so the fact that he maintains his obliviousness to this is staggering.
But here's something that isn't surprising. Of course Snyder's spokesman on the matter is Lanny Davis! The echt-Fox News Democrat of all time, the pitch man for various dictators, arguably the single most oleaginous human being in Washington DC, which of course is quite a boast to be able to make. That Snyder hired Davis is really all one needs to know about both men and their "cause" here. This would be like Bernie Madoff and Jerry Sandusky getting out of prison and going into business together.
However: Big props to The Washington Post editorial page for this September 12 editorial calling on Snyder to change the name. I really didn't think they had it in them. Now the paper just needs to announce that it won't print the name. Today's Post article mentions that Marty Barton, the new editor, says that the paper's policy is to refer to organizations by the names they use. Riciulous. If there were a group of anti-Semites calling itself the Washington Kike Haters--or for that matter a group of philo-Semites calling itself the Washington Kike Lovers--would the Post just print those appellations without thinking twice?
This has to end. Obama has now made this, too, part of his legacy, like his embrace of same-sex marriage, and it's the right side of history.