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Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 01/10/2011

It's time to change the name

By Richard P. Rosano, Potomac

Regarding Courtland Milloy’s Jan. 5 column, “A reminder that ‘Redskins’ is a name fit only for the dustbin of history”:

I’m as loyal a Redskins fan as there is. At 60, I have followed the team for more than half a century. I’m a proud season-ticket holder and a fan who refuses to boo even when the performance seems to warrant it. But we need to come to terms with the name of the team we love.

This legendary organization began as the Braves (1932) and became the Redskins in 1933. I’m proud of the name and the team, and I would miss the Indian-head logo and the cheer “Hail to the Redskins,” but we can no longer justify the team’s name. It’s not a surrender to critics who find racism around every corner, just a recognition that, in a world where sports and news announcers would be fired for referring to a Native American on air as a redskin, our city can no longer take pride in the word that engenders disappointment, frustration and sometimes anger in American Indians and non-American Indians.

I have no suggestions for a new name. I’m simply proposing that we take a serious look at the alternatives so that our pride in the Washington football team can be expressed without the shame that attends the name.

The men’s professional basketball team in Washington grappled with a similar problem and changed its name. Other professional and college sports teams have dealt with unappealing images and mascots. We can do that, too. And within a year or two, it’ll be over, and we’ll look back with belated relief that something was finally done. It’s time.

By Richard P. Rosano, Potomac  | January 10, 2011; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, sports  
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Comments

It's time to get rid of the McLean Highlanders, the USC Spartans, the "Warriors" (obviously a euphanism for "natives"), the Notre Dame Irish, the "Barbarians" english rugby, the Minnesota "Vikings," the "Blue Devils" (anti-Christ), the Florida State Seminoles.

And whle we're at it cleanse Mark Twain of "insulting" language, and politically correct American history so that Indians are now "Natives," there were 10 million in N.America living peacefully, until white people murdered them, and the War Between the States should have resulted in the extermination of the white south...and get rid of the name Mississippi "Rebels," and ban Confederate flags.

Or it's time to take a deep breath, have another scotch, and let the Dupont circle boys rant in their cafes as usual.

Or you could read George McDonald Fraser's (Flashman) last epitaph on the sterility of Political Correctness...(guess that would be asking too much...asking an ideologue to read rather than chant slogans.)

Posted by: wjc1va | January 10, 2011 11:08 PM | Report abuse

There is a difference between value-neutral or positive names like Spartans, Irish, and Seminoles (a name that has actually been approved, if I am correct in my understanding, by the Seminoles themselves), and a racial slur like "Redskins".
Imagine naming a team the "Ni**ers." Or the "N!ps", "W*ps" or "Sp!cs." Not gonna happen. But it's OK to use an equally nasty racial slur against Native Americans?

But of course, I suppose it's asking too much for an ideologue like wjc1va to actually THINK about the connotations of names rather than just pout about "political correctness" every time he's asked not to be publicly rude and insulting to someone else.

Posted by: Catken1 | January 11, 2011 7:37 AM | Report abuse

There is also a difference between leaving slurs in works from the past in order to preserve them as they were (warts and all), and keeping a slur as the name for a team and franchise that is active in the present.

Posted by: DOEJN | January 11, 2011 7:43 AM | Report abuse

The “Redskins” name has been the subject of great debate for several years. I associate the name “Redskins” with honor, bravery, and unwavering commitment. Many people associate the epithet with racial connections, but the name actually became the franchise label to honor then coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz who was ½ Native American. I agree that this may not be the most formidable way to pay homage to a culture, but Washington in no way has disrespected the name or the Native American culture. There are only a small percentage of Native Americans who oppose the nickname [less than 10%]. The Washington Redskins is great organization who’s on the field performance overshadows all the good that they do for the community. I have to admit, I often find myself shaking my head and saying, “those dam Redskins.” However know that I’m not referring to Native Americans.

Posted by: RoneP | January 11, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The “Redskins” name has been the subject of great debate for several years. I associate the name “Redskins” with honor, bravery, and unwavering commitment. Many people associate the epithet with racial connections, but the name actually became the franchise label to honor then coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz who was ½ Native American. I agree that this may not be the most formidable way to pay homage to a culture, but Washington in no way has disrespected the name or the Native American culture. There are only a small percentage of Native Americans who oppose the nickname [less than 10%]. The Washington Redskins is great organization who’s on the field performance overshadows all the good that they do for the community. I have to admit, I often find myself shaking my head and saying, “those dam Redskins.” However know that I’m not referring to Native Americans.

Posted by: RoneP | January 11, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I knew an Oneida Indian and a Mohawk Indian who thought the name Redskin honors Indians and all this hooha is nonsense.
Daniel Snyder would do well to fix more about the Skins than their name, but if he ever changed it, how about "Warriors?"
It's alliterative, and would honor not only Native Americans, but also the Armed Forces. Its rhythm even matches the fight song -- Hail to the Warriors.

Posted by: dmh86201 | January 11, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

How about "The Washington Weenies"? Wouldn't that describe this sorry team better?

Posted by: jacksonalex | January 11, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Why not change the name to the Washington "Foreskins"? It is graphically equal to the Redskins in many respects and plus gives proper recognition of Mr. Snyder's heritage in a way that rings truer than the current name. Thanks, x Society for Graphic Equality

Posted by: g-lo | January 11, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I have always thought the name should be changed to Washington Buckskins. The mascot would be a buckskin horse (golden with black mane and tail); people could still call them the 'Skins; the colors would be the same; it would evoke the frontier which sports fan seem to identify with for some reason. My own horses think it would be a good idea too, although they are bays, not buckskins. Redskins is a slur that belongs in the dustbing of history.

Posted by: cinder1 | January 11, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I suggest that the Redskins name be changed to the Washington Warriors, keeping everything else the same, the familiar burgundy and gold colors and the profile of a Native American showing dignity and pride, except don't show his face looking reddish. Andrew Teter, Silver Spring, Md. (You may print all or part of this in the W. Post)

Posted by: AndrewTeter | January 11, 2011 11:36 AM | Report abuse

To dmh86201, now you have heard from a Bitterroot Salish person that thinks Redskins ISN'T honorable. It's interesting how proponents of this despicable moniker always "know an Indian" who seems to approve. And while I'm on my soapbox, isn't it funny how America can discourse at length about whether a mascot name is acceptable but ignore the more pressing ills suffered by we native americans: poverty, health disparity, low education achievement. Perhaps the two issues are related?

Posted by: ruths1 | January 11, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

anybody who can compare and justify the use of the term redskins with spartans, cowboys, vikings or trojans needs his head examined.
have you ever met a spartan or real honest to goodness viking? coboy is a way of life...a job...NOT a RACE OF PEOPLE

Posted by: arapaho_2 | January 11, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Look! Where do you draw the line with offensive names? Are the Cowboys going to change their name? Cowboy is a stereotype of people from Texas. How bout the Giants. We shouldn't be calling tall people Giants. Give me a BREAK! Noone is calling Native Ammericans redskins. We are calling a team Redskins. No we don't need to change the name. If you were to change the name it would be a different team and I'd no longer have reason to be a fan of a sorry losing team. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE WITH OFFENSIVE NAMES. To be honest Cavalier offends me. Maybe the name football offends someone because they were born without a foot. Quit being ridiculous. Redskin is not a race. Its a description of a skin color. Its no more a racial term than white or black. I call whites whites. I cxall blacks blacks.

Posted by: awdiehardskinsfan | January 11, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Look! Where do you draw the line with offensive names? Are the Cowboys going to change their name? Cowboy is a stereotype of people from Texas. How bout the Giants. We shouldn't be calling tall people Giants. Give me a BREAK! Noone is calling Native Ammericans redskins. We are calling a team Redskins. No we don't need to change the name. If you were to change the name it would be a different team and I'd no longer have reason to be a fan of a sorry losing team. WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE WITH OFFENSIVE NAMES. To be honest Cavalier offends me. Maybe the name football offends someone because they were born without a foot. Quit being ridiculous. Redskin is not a race. Its a description of a skin color. Its no more a racial term than white or black. I call whites whites. I cxall blacks blacks.

Posted by: awdiehardskinsfan | January 11, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

If we have to change the Redskins name then NBC has to stop calling the Arizona shooter a WHITE male.

Posted by: awdiehardskinsfan | January 11, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess the BROWNS need to change their name to then.

Posted by: awdiehardskinsfan | January 11, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

If people aren't willing to call a sports team the "blackskins" or the "jewskins" or the "yellowskins" then isn't there something glaring obviously racist about the term "redskins?!" If fans want to "honor" someone why not the majority African-American population in the DC metro area? There are no sports teams with mascots honoring the actual players of these games, why not the DC "blackskins?" It isn't just ignorance, there's something else going on with the degree of resistance to change, like people don't have anything else in their lives to be proud of except a sports team. Or maybe people know it's racist and don't want to admit it to themselves? If it is so innocent or harmless, then just change it, maybe it'll actually help them win!

Posted by: swkyle | January 11, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse


The Black Hawks name is not only insulting to African-Americans, but to Native Americans also. And birds of prey.

Posted by: kenk33 | January 11, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I am a Native American, an attorney, and a 7 year fed. I will never cheer for the DC team, until they change the name. Until then I will continue to root for and spend money at Baltimore games or in my hometown of Detroit. But I will never cheer for a slur against any person, race or creed.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | January 11, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Sir.

As an Englishman living in England, I have to express bemusement at what American politicians believe is democratic free speech from outside their homeland. Currently, the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, is fighting the political and legal processes of Britain, Sweden and eventuallty America, in order to defend the right of his company to demonstrate the perfidious and nasty nature of superpower politics. American politicians are trying hard to get him into the legal system of their country to, (it is believed), try him for a crime which could result in the death penalty.

A nation that can produce such world saving notaries as John Wayne, Stephen Seagal, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, seem quite terrified of the thought that someone can dare to publish emailed comments of foreign politicians, written by their own people.

McCarthyism seems to still be alive, well
and thriving, in the land of supposedly democratic freedom.

I have to admit quite frankly, that for the most part, the people in the United Kingdom, find America and its trumpeted declarations of human rights and personal freedoms, a bit of a joke when people like Mr Assange are hounded for telling the truth.

America is not the whole world. Its politicians may like to think that they can control every other country in your name, but when freedom of speech is under threat, the decent American people are being done no favours at all.

Regards,

Gavioli

Posted by: gavioli | January 11, 2011 8:10 PM | Report abuse

So....Washington Negros is out as an alternative? There seems to be no problem with Jeep Cherokee, or Pontiac, for cars. It's funny 2-3 hundred odd years later after "ethnically cleansing" the U.S. some are concerned about "respect".

Posted by: 8lackie | January 11, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

look we have people resorting to saying its now just a color...no disrespect intended....really are some that shallow?

redskins is an offensive term to describe the native americans...much like the N word was used to label african americans

it was also coined to describe the indian scalps the early colonists had bounties on.

some say it isnt even calling NA redskins...but the team!!! i guess thats why we see the indian head symbol...or have to watch those stupid fans with their mock headdresses and indian paint...cause its not about indians? right?

lets call the team a honerable name like the washington honkies....thats not disrespecting whites is it?

maybe the washington waps...washington spicks?...spades?

redskin is a derogative term used to describe a race of people...it is not a job...or a extinct people...it is not a way of life as cowboy is...it is based upon a derogative term...the sooner people grasp that the sooner its over

Posted by: arapaho_2 | January 12, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

To awdiehardskinsfan: I will tell you exactly where we should draw the line on offensive team nicknames. You draw the line at racial slurs. If it's a racial slur, it doesn't pass muster.

Posted by: Daniel_W_Keiper | January 15, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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