Washington Redskins helmets displaying the emblematic colors and team mascot. The Oneida Indian Nation tribe in upstate New York said Thursday, September 5, 2013, it will launch a radio ad campaign pressing for the Washington Redskins to get rid of a nickname that is often criticized as offensive. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
This has been a difficult week for Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell’s argument that their beloved Redskins* nickname is actually “highly respectful.” It has been a difficult week for their public relations case that Native Americans are either honored by it or don’t care and the only people who want it changed are effete, left-wing, politically correct thugs who hate Mom, apple pie, and, of course, the NFL.
The team moniker that Keith Olbermann calls “the last racist word you can say at the office and not get fired” is being challenged forcefully by the very people Snyder and Goodell are claiming to honor.
First came the news that the Oneida Nation of upstate New York will launch a series of radio ads in the DC market calling on Goodell to “stand up to bigotry” and change the name. The Oneida Nation also launched the website changethemascot.org. “We do not deserve to be called redskins,” Oneida leader Ray Halbritter says in the ad. “We deserve to be treated as what we are—Americans.”
Then, as the Redskins prepare to travel away from the DC area, where the Native American population is a whopping 0.6 percent, to Green Bay, a place near actual indigenous communities, a protest has been called for outside of Lambeau Field by the Oneida Tribe Indians of Wisconsin. The Oneidas have announced will be bringing signs and banners inside of the stadium as well. As tribe member Brandon Stevens said, “We’re actively and proactively creating an avenue of education and seeking out remedies to see how we can come to an understanding where the offender isn’t the one dictating what the intent of the mascot is.”
This last point is critical because so much of this argument on the sports page is about how Washington football fans, Snyder, or even Goodell feel about the prospect of a name change. The recognition of Native American voices in this discussion is long overdue.
The Washington Post is doing just that, calling or the name to change on Thursday, referencing the Oneida protests and then writing that Snyder needs to “listen more carefully to those who love the team and hate the ethnic slur.”