Author’s note: It’s Wednesday and this is my first item about the Redskins name during this work week. And I’m again cramming everything into one catch-all item. I’m trying to work with you, here.
I noted on Sunday that someone was handing out and/or selling pins supporting the Redskins name in the FedEx Field parking lots. After the creator of the pins left an e-mail address in the comments section of that item, I reached out to him, and we chatted briefly about his motivation.
Taylor — the creator — is a 20-something Redskins fan who grew up in central Virginia but now lives in Arlington. He asked that his full name not be used, because he said he didn’t want to attract personal attention.
He made about 2,000 of the pins, and said he arrived at FedEx Field when the parking lots opened and distributed his wares until he entered the stadium. After the game, he handed out some more. He didn’t want to tell me how much he spent making the pins, but said he mostly gave them away for free, while also accepting donations “to recoup the costs.”
I asked him why he felt compelled to make 2,000 buttons to support his cause, and he cited the “silent majority.”
“All we’re really hearing from these days is outside sources,” Taylor said. “I wanted to show my support, and I know a lot of other people wanted to show their support. It wasn’t meant to be a big thing. But I know a lot of people that feel the same way, and wanted to show their support for the name, and for the team, and for Dan Snyder’s feelings also. So I wanted to give them a way to do that.”
He said the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, although he did acknowledge approaching some fans who told him that they don’t support the team’s name. Those fans, Taylor said, told him that they still supported the team, but not the name. (He estimated such fans represented less than one percent of the fans he approached.) Taylor also said that many people he spoke with cited Bob Costas’s Sunday Night Football commentary as something that had rallied them behind the Redskins name.
The team didn’t know of his plans, and he said he probably distributed between 1,000 and 1,200 of the pins on Sunday. He figures he will get rid of the rest before and after the Chargers game next weekend.
“Probably it wasn’t until I was in 10th grade that I’d ever even heard that there was talk that the name was something negative,” Taylor told me. “I had to ask my dad why people thought that, and he didn’t have an answer for me. We never did, and we never do think of it in a negative light. When we say Redskin, we think of the 53 guys on the field and the organization; we don’t think of it as a race or as a negative thing. We think of it as who we go see every Sunday.”
And now, in other Redskins name news…
Two images that were sent to me on Sunday.
New tactic: Breast cancer + Redskins mascot awareness pic.twitter.com/qZuXqA0T39
— Eric Kay (@ekaycbs) October 20, 2013
— B Smith (@bjsnva) October 20, 2013
PAT BUCHANAN ON THE NAME
The conservative commentator and native Washingtonian wrote an op-ed on the name for Real Clear Politics. Excerpt:
Hurt? Native Americans are “hurt” by the Redskins’ name? Years ago, I recall hearing a line I thought a magnificent tribute to the toughness, bravery and perseverance of these peoples that the Europeans encountered and fought on American soil for centuries.
“There is no whine in the Indian,” the writer said.
What he meant was that these were people who stood, fought and died, and did not whimper. And it is that character trait so many teams from the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota to the Cleveland Indians of the Cuyahoga seek to capture in their adopted names. And as I have never heard of anyone choosing a team name to insult it, who is really lacking in tolerance and mutual respect here?
NEW YORK POST WITH THE ONEIDAS
Bart Hubbach of the New York Post wrote a long piece on the upstate New York tribe that has been spearheading the latest protests. Excerpt:
While the tribe’s newfound prominent role in a controversy has brought scrutiny and criticism from the outside, it also has been a surprising source of friction within. Why the internal discord?
“Because the tribe has a lot of members who’ve been Redskins fans forever and don’t want the name to change,” [Oneida official Kandice] Watson said. “Even my own cousin and her daughter feel that way, and we discuss it all the time.
“I don’t see how they’re not offended, but they’re not.”
The fact even a significant number of his own people — Watson estimates that 100 or more of Oneida Nation’s members actually consider the Redskins name an honor — tells Halbritter that all the recent progress doesn’t mean the fight is over and that ultimate victory is far from assured. But even with the blowback and the absence of total support from fellow Oneidans, it’s a fight Halbritter says his tribe won’t give up.
“Throughout history, people have vowed to preserve everything from slavery to segregation to preventing women the right to vote,” he said. “But that’s the thing that’s great about America. When a lot of people speak out, change can happen.”
A CHANGE THE NAME VIDEO
Here’s a video made out of submissions from various Native Americans who want the name changed.
JEFF JACOBY ON THE NAME
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote a full-throated defense of the team name this week. Excerpt:
I’m not a sports fan. I have no interest in Redskins football. And I have no trouble understanding why the team’s name genuinely rubs some people the wrong way. But there is no limit to what may rub people the wrong way. Start scrapping names and emblems on the basis that someone finds them offensive and you’ll be scrapping names and emblems forever. Institutions and societies can’t function that way. No one is guaranteed the right to go through life unoffended. You may not like the name of a sports team, or a company logo, or a school’s mascot. But disapproval isn’t an argument, let alone a definitive one.
Why don’t four-fifths of Americans — many American Indians among them — think the Washington Redskins need a new name? Not because they’re in the habit of using “redskin” as a racial designation for Native Americans, but because they grasp that context matters, and that while a word used one way may not be respectful, used a different way it shouldn’t offend reasonable people.
CAILLE MILLNER ON THE NAME
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Caille Millner wrote a full-throated attack on the team name this week. Excerpt:
I won’t comment on Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder’s level of civilization. I will say that a man who responds to critical questioning as Snyder did in a May interview with USA Today – “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use caps” – well, that man can’t be considered an adult.
Since he’s not an adult, Mr. Snyder can’t be appealed to with adult arguments about pain and history. Nor is he likely to be much concerned about the fact that he’s on the wrong side of history – which he is.
When nearly two-thirds of professional and amateur athletic teams with questionable Indian names or icons have changed them since 1971, the writing is on the wall. The Redskins’ name will be changed. It’s only a matter of when.
DALLAS RADIO VOICE ON THE NAME
Voice of the Cowboys Brad Sham tried to avoid saying the Redskins name during his broadcast of the Sunday Night Football game. He told the Dallas Morning News that he thinks he only slipped once.
“My feeling was not to take a public stance,” Sham told the paper, when a reporter asked. “But I believe I can have a personal belief and enforce it without affecting the way I call the game.”
JOHN MCCAIN ON THE NAME
Via the Phoenix Business Journal:
McCain — a long standing member on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs — said he understands why Native Americans would find the Redskins football team’s nickname offensive. But McCain added he is not going to ask Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the team’s name. The team faces political pressure and legal challenges to its trademarks and copyrights from critics including some Native Americans.
CHIEF ZEE DANCING
The public focus on this issue has not stopped Chief Zee from dancing with his tomahawk in the FedEx Field parking lot.