A Quick Soapbox

I get e-mails and read articles often that minimize the problems associated with having a professional sports team called the "Redskins."  The most common thing is to say "no one is offended," "stop the politically correct police," and even "well if we find this name offensive, let's change all the names.

These objections are absurd.  I get that these are jokes, but I refuse to understand why such blatant racism is funny.

Redskins is different than all the other team names.  We can debate whether or not a race of people should be a mascot at all, and we can talk about bad logos, and we can have discussions about etiquette when applying team names.  We can even talk about the marketing implications of changing such names, a problem that our friend David Zirin has debunked thoroughly.  Seriously, read anything he's written or listen to our podcast when he was kind enough to stop by.

With the Redskins, It's not a matter of being "politically correct," it's a matter of the term actually being racist.  The term originates as a term to identify the number of Native American people killed for money.  "How many redskins do you have there?" would be the question, in reference to the number of people someone had killed.  "Oh, I suppose I owe you three shillings then!" would be the response of Whitey McRacist.  

The term is racist, not politically incorrect.  People making light of it shows a level of ignorance that is beyond me.  I understand the people who laugh at these comments probably don't know the history.  They certainly are well-meaning.  Often people are concerned about tradition (to hear more about this tradition, please read this from Mr. Zirin).  

However, instead of mocking people who care about an issue foreign to you, wouldn't it make more sense to investigate deeply into why so many people find something so incredibly offensive?  The originators of these intentionally light-hearted, but inadvertently abhorrent displays of ignorance, are choosing not to ignore the issue like a normal person who doesn't care about something; but to actively try and mitigate the concerns of others.  I think that's deplorable, and this type of drivel continues to cascade around the internet, perpetuating false impressions of things that might possibly (dare I say it) have layers.