Over the past few weeks, The Post has published a number of letters about the naming of the Redskins. Some of them offered intriguing theories; others even seemed logical. However, the theory that seems to me to be the most acceptable differs from all of them.
My friend Ernest R. (Rick) Concannon, once of Waltham (Mass.) High and New York University, played tackle for the Boston Redskins along with Turk Edwards. According to my friend, who died about a year ago, the team was called "Redskins" in honor of their coach, "Lone Star" Dietz, an Indian who had played for the Carlisle Indians in the days of Jim Thorpe. Those were the days before "Indians" became "native Americans." It is likely that none of The Post's letter writers has ever heard of "Lone Star" Dietz and, possibly, not even of the Carlisle Indians.
JOHN F. DEVANEY
As an Italian American, I would not be pleased if someone decided to name a soccer team the "Washington Wops." The name "Washington Redskins" seems equally insensitive. Since moving to the D.C. area last year, I've been offended by the local football team's name, and I was somewhat surprised that there seemed to be so little controversy surrounding it. Now, I'm glad to see that the issue has come to light, via The Post's letters to the editor.
In one letter, James Peter Murphy stated that the team was named "in honor of the band of patriots" who, disguised as native Americans, threw the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Mr. Murphy's anecdote may be an interesting historical tidbit, but it is not convincing as a justification for the team's choice of name and logo. Even granting that his story is historically accurate, the overwhelming fact remains that the term "Redskin" has frequently been used in this culture as a racial slur.
The origin of the team's name has become obscured and almost irrelevant. The pejorative connotation of "Redskins" is, I believe, more well known and pertinent to the discussion. Considered in the context of American culture, the name is an embarrassment.
Incidentally, why do you suppose those patriots disguised themselves as native Americans?
Some people still insist on taking umbrage at the name of Washington's football team. But there is a solution for the Redskins. Don't change the name -- just change the symbol. Why not have a peanut, a potato or an onion -- all with red skins -- as their symbol?
With the help of a good graphic artist and a top-flight advertising firm, just think what could be done to create this new image. Remember what they did for the lowly California raisin? The possibilities are endless: a cuddly peanut, a hunky potato, a sexy onion.