The Trouble With “Redskins”

When I realized I was most likely going to stay in Washington, DC and write about politics forever and ever and ever, I decided to abandon my New York sports heritage and adopt DC’s teams. I know it’s a minority view, but I don’t think it makes sense to let the dead hand of where you happened to spend the first 18 years of your life dictate behavior for decades and decades going forward. And even though the Giants won a Super Bowl since I abandoned them and the Redskins don’t look very good this season, I stand by that decision-making.

That said, it really is true that it’s ridiculous to have a team named “Redskins” in this day and age. The lawsuit currently aiming to force a change doesn’t seem to me to be particularly persuasive-sounding as a legal matter, but this is totally right:

More important, dropping the Redskins moniker would be the right thing to do. I’m certain that offending Native Americans is the furthest thing from the minds of fans or franchise. I suspect the truth is that most of us simply don’t think about it. We’ve become comfortable with the word, complacent. And that has made us unwilling to challenge our own thinking or our assumptions about whether it might be offensive to those whom it describes. But can you imagine anyone in their right mind today trying to coin the name Washington Wetbacks? How about California Chinks? Or Kentucky Krauts? It wouldn’t take a legal challenge from Hispanics, Chinese or Germans to put the kibosh on those ideas. It shouldn’t take a lawsuit now to bring an end to such an unfortunate and hurtful name.

Conversely, Washington Bullets was a perfectly good name (and a great song).