THIS PAGE has for many years urged the local football team to change its name. The term “Redskins,” we wrote in 1992, “is really pretty offensive.” The team owner then, Jack Kent Cooke, disagreed, and the owner now, Daniel M. Snyder, disagrees, too. But the matter seems clearer to us now than ever, and while we wait for the National Football League to catch up with thoughtful opinion and common decency, we have decided that, except when it is essential for clarity or effect, we will no longer use the slur ourselves. That’s the standard we apply to all offensive vocabulary, and the team name unquestionably offends not only many Native Americans but many other Americans, too.
We were impressed this week by the quiet integrity of Mike Carey, who recently retired after 19 seasons as one of the NFL’s most respected referees. As recounted by Post columnist Mike Wise, Mr. Carey asked the league not to assign him to officiate any Washington games and, since 2006, the league granted his request. He never made any announcement about it. “It just became clear to me that to be in the middle of the field, where something disrespectful is happening, was probably not the best thing for me,” Mr. Carey said.
We don’t believe that fans who are attached to the name have racist feeling or intent, any more than does Mr. Snyder. But the fact remains: The word is insulting. You would not dream of calling anyone a “redskin” to his or her face. You wouldn’t let your son or daughter use it about a person, even within the privacy of your home. As Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote on the opposite page last year, “I wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people — living or dead, offended or not — in a most demeaning way.”
What we are discussing here is a change only for editorials. Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be. Nor do we intend to impose our policy on our readers. If you write a letter about football and want to use the team name, we aren’t going to stop you.
But as Mr. Carey noted, every time the R-word is used, something disrespectful is happening. We hope Mr. Snyder and the NFL will acknowledge that truth sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’ll do our best not to contribute to the disrespect.
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