Scott Fulton's June 20 Close to Home piece challenging the new owner of the Washington Redskins to change the team's name also should come as a wake-up call to the media. Why do publications such as The Post, which in many ways set community standards and shape public opinion, continue to print a team name that is a slur on Native Americans?
The Post and other publications could cite legal precedent if they should decide not to continue publishing a name rooted in racism. Just this spring, as Fulton noted, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board denied trademark registration to the Washington football team because its name disparages Native Americans and encourages contempt.
Some publications already have taken a stand on this issue. For example, in the early '90s the Oregonian newspaper adopted such a policy of not publishing team names it deemed racist. The Minneapolis Star Tribune did likewise in the mid-'90s.
Certainly, The Post and other publications do not print other pejorative words used to describe ethnic or cultural groups -- so why is it different with this name? Ethnic slurs and name-calling are efforts by one culture to subjugate or have power over another. Publishing these words helps legitimize a destructive pattern of behavior.
Tradition is important, but some traditions should be improved upon. Just as the team's ownership, its venue and stadium name can change -- as well as its on-field performance, fans hope -- so can its moniker.
While The Post and other media can't change the name of Washington's football team, they certainly can change their policies with regard to its use.
-- Terrance Lynch
is executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.