As the debate over the name of Washington’s football team grows louder, one of the more vocal groups on the issue has found itself unexpectedly silenced.
The Oneida Indian Nation learned Friday that the radio ad it had scheduled to run in Washington this weekend as part of its national “Change the Mascot” campaign, will not air. A representative of CBS Radio Washington cited increased discussion around the name as the reason for pulling the ad from two of its stations, WJFK and WPGC.
“Based on the amount of on-air debate, adding paid commercials from one side is not something that we think is beneficial for this discussion and for our audience,” Steve Swenson, senior vice president of CBS Radio Washington wrote in an e-mail that was provided by the Oneida Nation to The Post.
WJFK, or 106.7 The Fan, bills itself on its Web site as “the radio station for D.C. sports fans. Our opinions are unbiased and unfiltered, and we never hold back.”
The New York-based Oneida group, which has emerged as one of the strongest forces in the name-change push, advertised on both stations at the start of the season. The one that was supposed to run this weekend was titled “Legacy” and questioned the one Redskins owner Daniel Snyder would leave. Snyder defended the name in a letter to fans last week.
“By changing his team’s name Mr. Snyder can create a better historical legacy for himself — one of tolerance and mutual respect, not of racial epithets,” Oneida representative Ray Halbritter says in the ad. “Native Americans do not want their people to be hurt by such painful epithets. We just want to be treated as what we all are: Americans.”
Friday, Swenson confirmed that the stations would not be running the ad this weekend.
“The issue has been heavily debated on WJFK where we can provide a good balance of discussion, opinions and context to the issue through our programming,” Swenson said by e-mail. “Our audience has reacted positively to that presentation, and we will continue to approach the situation keeping in-line with our audiences’ expectations.”
Halbritter admonished the company for its decision. “It is unfortunate and un-American that the station permits the team to slander Native Americans on the public airwaves with the use of the r-word, but doesn’t permit Native Americans to use the same airwaves to object to the use of a racial slur,” he said.
The decades-long discussion about the name of the Redskins has been amplified recently by sports commentators and columnists, most recently Bob Costas and Charles Krauthammer, who have condemned the name as a slur. Earlier this month, President Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press that if he owned the team, he’d “think about changing it.”