Native American Groups Challenge Redskins Name
by Madeline Barnes on Friday, October 25th, 2013
America is a land unmatched in its diversity of cultures, races, and beliefs, subsequently in its ability to thrive and innovate. However, such flourishing cannot continue without acceptance of the principles upon which this nation has been built.
For the past few years, the mascot of the football franchise in our nation’s capital, the Washington Redskins, has been the center of an escalating controversy between the teams’ owners, the Federal government, fans, and certain Native American groups. The ‘Redskin’ moniker has represented the team for eighty-one years, yet it was not until just a few years ago that people began to consider it an offensive stereotype and deem it politically incorrect.
This controversy has become an issue because Americans are living in a world of rapidly liberalizing public opinion. From the election of our first African-American president to massive trends of acceptance towards gay marriage, any onlooker can see that monumental shifts in attitudes toward race and culture are underway. With so many cultures and ethnicities playing a major role in our society, problems of racial insensitivity expressed more easily and resolved even over issues that have been overlooked for decades. The issue at hand is aptly summarized by CNN: “Many Native Americans contend it’s incredulous that a major sports team in the nation’s capital fails to see the word’s offensiveness.”
When racial or cultural controversies such as this arise in our society, we should feel compelled to make the appropriate changes. Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, stated that fans “speak proudly of ‘Redskins Nation’ in honor of a sports team they love,” although Snyder is convinced that his team is not portrayed as being offensive towards Native Americans. However, Dan Snyder needs to recognize that, while nobody is taking issue with the team its or its players, many of Native American origin consider the team’s title a racial epithet. Unfortunately, Snyder, along with others who believe nothing is wrong with the team’s name, fails to fully understand the trend towards intense political correctness in our nation, a trend that demands compromise and common ground among all ethnicities.
If we look past some of the liberal sentiments that seem to be dominating this era in America, we will realize that it is essential to accurately weigh the two sides of the issue at hand. While it may seem nice to try to please everybody of all ethnicities in our nation, is it really viable to change the name of a storied American sports franchise worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Furthermore, is the term’s use as the name of a sports team really offensive in itself? Are we offending descendants of American Revolution veterans by depicting their ancestors with a weird angular face on the side of a helmet and naming the New England team after them? Most may realize that the answers to these questions are no. While the term “Redskin” may be taken as offensive, I believe that it was not conceived to offend or belittle native populations. Perhaps most importantly, while it is essential that we recognize a history of terrible treatment of native populations in America, wouldn’t the allowance of aid and development funds to backwards, dilapidated, crumbling, and crime ridden tribal reserves be far more helpful to the future generations of natives than the alteration of a name of a sports franchise?
While changing the name of the Redskins and thereby pleasing those offended by the name may be a valiant goal, there are better ways to move this nation substantively forward.
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