Every person who wants the Washington football team to change its name got an unexpected gift earlier this week in the form of a Sarah Palin word salad. Palin decided for reasons that are best left unexplored, that her wisdom was required on this issue. Not to surprise anyone, but the former half-term governor stands resolutely with team owner Dan Snyder and vociferous Redskin defender ESPN commentator Mike Ditka, and against anyone who does not think a racial slur should be an NFL brand.
She said, among other things, “Nothing should surprise us lately; but when the Politically Correct Police bust Ditka, they hope the silent majority will cower under leftist control. My goodness, Ditka merely spoke his mind. This accomplished and esteemed coach knows there are big issues to be addressed in America today; there’s no intent to offend by referring to a team by the name they’ve proudly worn since day one and chose with pride in our native ancestry and obviously had absolutely no intent to insult; and the liberal media’s made-up controversies divide our country.”
Then, as part of her effort to not “divide our country” she made a joke that while “Redskins” is a term of honor, “Washington” is the real name that should be changed. (That painfully stale riposte has more dust on it than Ms. Palin’s career in electoral politics.)
The “esteemed” Mike Ditka, another figure who would never dream of trying to “divide” this country, said in his typically healing fashion that the controversy is the result of “politically correct idiots”, “liberals who complain about everything” and the entire debate is “silly” and “asinine.” He then said, “I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of American football history and they should never be anything but the Washington Redskins.”
All of this is code, of course, for the line coming from team owner Dan Snyder and the public relations headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. The name represents “honor” and “respect”, (let’s forget that they were named by an avowed white supremacist whose own granddaughter thinks the name should change) and the entire issue is the creation of white, politically correct sportswriters. It mirrors the words of sports radio host Steve Czaban whose show airs on the Dan Snyder–owned ESPN 980 in DC. Czaban earned his check earlier this summer when he said that this is all about “guilt-ridden white liberal sportswriters.”
What Snyder, Palin and Ditka don’t realize is that they are creating even more motivation amongst a new generation of Native American activists who are sick and tired of being treated as invisible actors. Here is the list of the tribal councils and Native American organizations that have come out against the team name: they represent real people who have said it is a slur that harms their community. But Dan Snyder and his apparatchiks refuse in cowardly fashion to sit down across a table with any of them. For people like Snyder, Palin and Ditka, these are people who simply do not exist.