year the Washington Metropolitan Area Council of Governments passed a
non-binding resolution requesting the same thing.
Their point is that
since the word "Redskins" was at one time used as a racial slur,
it might offend people in this day and age.
Never mind that
"Washington Redskins" has come to signify dignity, courage, and
Super Bowl championships. Never mind that the Redskins' great
offensive linemen from the 80s and early 90s were proud to be called the
"Hogs," not because association with porcine mud wallowers is
particularly attractive, but because they changed it's meaning as it applied to them into something to be proud of.
The meaning of words
changes over time. Remember when "gay" used to mean
And so it is that the
movement to strike names referring to Native Americans continues to make
itself known. How about we give them everything they want. I mean, everything.
They have a point with
the term "Redskins"--one that can be rebutted, but a point
nonetheless--since that term did indeed at one time have a negative
However, names like
"Warriors" and "Braves," "Black Hawks" and
"Fighting Illini" all convey the positive aspects of the
free-spirited warrior ethic.
The same people who
want DC's NFL team to change it's name also want all other Native American
references stricken. They say that even though the majority of
Native Americans themselves aren't bothered by it, if some are,
So, let's do it.
All the way.
Start with the
obvious--the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles,
and Utah Utes all must go. But let's be consistent, and include all
references that might be offensive to a particular person or group.
The Notre Dame
Fighting Irish? Their mascot is a pugilistic leprechaun.
That's certainly a more negative ethnic depiction than the mighty Indian
chief on the Redskins' helmets. Some Americans of Irish decent might
be offended by that brawler's stereotype. It's gone.
Cornhuskers' mascot is an angry little farmer. Most farmers aren't
angry at all. And most people in Nebraska aren't even farmers, so
that excludes the majority of people from representation with their great
football team. We're trying to be inclusive here.
And speaking of
excluding people and hurting their feelings, the Oakland Athletics must
change as well. The term "Athletics" can be a constant
cruel message to those who aren't athletically gifted, haughtily reminding
them that they aren't worthy to be included on Oakland's athletic
The New York Giants? Gone. What about the feelings of short people?
Why is calling a team the "Giants" different from calling a team
the "Manhattan Midgets?"
The Tennessee Titans
have got to go. "Titans" were icons of one of history's
great belief systems. You wouldn't have the "Tennessee Buddahs,"
Then there's the San
Diego Padres. Same deal. In the eyes of some, they're
trivializing their clergy. In the eyes of others, they're excluding
their clergy. If you're going to have "Padres," how can
you exclude San Diego's Pastors and Priests, not to mention its
Ministers, Monks, and Mullahs?
No no no. That
would be exclusionary. That would hurt feelings. That would
In the spirit of
Kensington, MD, if anyone is offended we should satisfy them, even if
most aren't. Kensington has a decades-old Christmas tradition
of having Santa ride into town on a fire engine. Well, on Christmas
2001, two people--two--complained. So they cancelled
Santa. (In fairness to Kensington, they brought him
back. That's a big "L" for the Grinch.)
Now, of course, I'm
talking with tongue firmly in cheek here. As a compassionate
society, we should take care to address the wishes of our fellow
citizens. In a representative republic, the minority rightly has
political and legal protection from the tyranny of the majority--what our
Founding Fathers termed "mob rule."
But for goodness'
sake, where do you draw the line? Just as the minority has
protection from the tyranny of the majority, the majority has protection
from unreasonable requests of the minority (remember, most Native
Americans aren't particularly concerned with the Redskins'
No one will ever be
totally satisfied. This is where common sense comes in.
So since this issue of
sports mascots is heating up again, what if we just stepped aside and let the
people who want change have their way. Entirely.
Completely. What do you think the court of common sense would make of