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When GW public policy law professor John Banzhaf suggested a parallel between Jeremy Lin slurs and the nickname of our local NFL franchise, most people either ignored the prof, or made fun of him.
A few days ago, veteran WRC anchor Jim Vance made the same comparison though, and he’s probably harder to ignore. He also works for a network that is corporate partners with the Redskins, is pretty close friends with Joe Gibbs, and was part of the panel that once chose the 70 greatest Redskins in honor of the team’s 70th anniversary..
The video of “Vance’s View” is above, but I went ahead and did the transcription, below.
“A few days ago, a couple guys at ESPN got in a boatload of trouble when they got too cute with the Jeremy Lin phenomenon. The puns were bad enough, but they used a racial slur to describe one of Lin’s lesser performances for the New York Knicks. A lot of people found that offensive, and probably racist, and they’re probably right.
“What I find curious is how some people I’ve talked to are offended by a derogatory term for Asians, but not by the word ‘Redskin.’ Folks, ‘Redskins’ is not a term of endearment, any more than the N word or any other racial or ethnic slur. From its inception and inclusion in our language, it was meant to be an insult.
“What’s fascinating is that while ‘Redskin’ the word may be awful to some people, ‘Redskin’ the player or ‘Redskins’ the team is adored by so many. There are people in this town who love the Redskins more than they do their own spouse. They’re willing to tell you that to your face, in front of their spouse. They don’t even think of the original connotation of the word. It is not toxic to them.
“And they don’t want to hear about it, either. The word to them is a reference to something cherished, and that’s all. It is not a subject for discussion about whether it ought to be, maybe, changed.
“I don’t know if it should or not be changed, but I’d sure rather not be cussed out for raising the question, as I was a couple days ago by a guy up on Georgia Avenue. You should have seen this dude, veins popping out, fists clenched, just because the question of a name change came up.
“His was the kind of single-minded intransigence that mirrored George Preston Marshall, that vile, evil man who once owned the team, and who swore there would never be a Negro playing on his team. Fifty years ago, because of George Preston Marshall, the Redskins [were] the last team in the entire NFL to hire a black player. Marshall wanted Bobby Mitchell, who was the player, to play not for Old D.C., but for Old Dixie.
“Fifty years later, do we really want to be the only team in the league with even a question about the appropriateness of our name? Can’t we at least talk about that, without somebody wanting to start a fight for goodness sake?”