WaPo, USA Today Declare Redskins’ Name Debate Over

Well Redskins fans, it’s over. The ruling has been handed down from on high – The Washington Post and USA Today. They’ve got a foam finger for you, but it’s not the index and you’re certainly not #1 to them, and they’re the ones who matter. They’ve decided your team name will change.

They got some help last week from President Obama, who took a break from refusing to negotiate with Republicans to tell the AP, “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team – even if it had a storied history – that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it.” In other words, if he had a team mascot, it wouldn’t look like the ’Skins’ logo, and Dan Snyder is acting stupidly.

The Post ran the story on its cover page, declaring that “the willingness of the president, the nation's most influential sports fan, to weigh in has raised the protracted debate to a new level of prominence.”

And on Oct. 8, in the Post, Mike Wise, a leftwing opinion hack trapped on the Sports page, declared the name change is a done-deal. “The debate over whether a people are denigrated or honored by the name of the Washington NFL team, like the absurd debate over whether the name is a unifying force, is over.” Because Mike Wise says it is, and everyone is bound by his declaration, even football stars.

“Even if he remains in Washington for his entire NFL career, Robert Griffin III is not going to retire an R-word.” Yes, “R-word.” Wise and others of the “journalist” class like USA Today’s Christine Brennan, have imperiously declared they won’t use “Redskins.”

He won’t use it because he’s on the side of the angels. (Not the MLB team – that’s for mere sportswriters.) The opposition to the ’Skins team name is “called the world’s tribe, and it is bigger and infinitely more powerful than an 80-year-old fan base and its idea of ‘tradition.’”  Wow, I feel important just reading that.

Unfortunately, Wise’s own paper noted, even as it celebrated Obama’s two cents, “key constituencies are absent from the name-change bandwagon: many of the nation's 5.2 million Native Americans, the NFL, advertisers and the football team’s die-hard fans.”

In USA Today Jarrett Bell lamented that ’Skins owner Dan Snyder wasn’t invited to a D.C. symposium held by the Oneida Nation to bash his team logo. “Snyder could have learned a few things,” according to Bell.

“It was too bad that no one from the NFL — or anyone from the team based 30 miles away in Northern Virginia — showed up at the symposium,” Bell wrote. “They would have heard passion on several levels, from morality to sociological stigmas, to impact on long-term health.”

Passion? Well that changes everything! Bring Snyder groveling for forgiveness. These people have passion!

But then Bell runs into that same old sticking point: “Polls suggest an overwhelming number of fans approve of the racist slur as a nickname,” he wrote. But have no fear. It’s nothing an expensive federal program administered a cadre of diversity czars can’t fix. The deep ignorance of those fans “leads those involved to insist that mass education is needed — a history lesson, steeped in sensitivity.”

Similarly, Wise quoted “Ray Halbritter, the impassioned, thoughtful front man for the Oneida Nation,” (impassioned!) “We want change, change not only in more than a symbolic way but change in the lives of the American Indian people — particularly our children,” Halbritter said.

Sounds like this is going to cost a lot more folks than just Dan Snyder. But no matter. Wise and Bell and a handful of “impassioned” people know best.

Matthew Philbin
Matthew Philbin
Matt Philbin is Managing Editor of MRC Culture