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Time for 'Redskins' to go

Now it's up to Redskins owner Dan Snyder to do the right thing. Try not to guffaw.

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a case in which Native Americans challenged a trademark on the Redskins name, saying it was offensive and didn't deserve legal protection. I thought the Native Americans had a good basis for prevailing, given that current law prohibits giving legal blessing to a trademark that includes "matter which may disparage...persons, living or dead...or bring them into contempt, or disrepute."

I just don't see how the name Redskins passes this test. Imagine the uproar if a team adopted other racially, ethnically or culturally questionable monikers. San Antonio Spics, anyone? How about California Coolies? Unimaginable.

The justices didn't reach the question of whether the Redskins name met with trademark standards, instead letting stand lower court rulings that concluded that the Native Americans filed their challenge too late.

Redskins management no doubt is whooping it up. What they should be doing is following the example of Abe Pollin, the owner of Washington's professional men's basketball team. Pollin changed the name of the team from the violence-tinged Bullets to the Wizards in the late 1990's, to no discernible harm. In fact, the Wizards probably profited from sales of jerseys, jackets, caps and other merchandise emblazoned with the new team logo and name.

But don't expect a miracle like the one we witnessed on Sunday with the Redskins' victory over the Broncos. Snyder is tone deaf when it comes to doing the right thing. (Don't forget that this is the guy who sicced his lawyers on financially devastated longtime Redskins fans who could no longer afford to honor their season ticket contracts.) More pressure or persuasion on the name change probably won't make a difference now, even if we argue till we're red in the face.

By Eva Rodriguez  | November 16, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments

I have to agree. Redskins isn't an honorary term, like Braves or Indians.

It is derogatory. Always has been.

Why can't they simply change the name to Washington Warriors? It sounds good (they both start with W), and you wouldn't have to change any of the Indian-related merchandise.

A lot of people remember the old Redskins, who fought integration the hardest back in the old days.

This seems like a continuation of that.

And who knows. Maybe the Redskins name is haunting them, making them suck. Maybe they'd suck less as the Warriors.

Posted by: Hillman1 | November 16, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

We've been through this sseveral times before. I recall on one of the previous occasions that the term 'redskin' never reffered to the pigmentation of a native American's skin, but to the warpaint applied by braves to themselves.

Is this so, or is this NOT so?

If it is NOT a reference to skin color, then how could it possibly be derogatory?

It was also mentioned, the last time around, that it was a small minority of native Americans that were attempting to get the name change. Furthermore, it was implied that these few may have had a personal agenda.

Who else remembers this?

Posted by: primegrop | November 16, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"San Antonio Spics, anyone? "

Truth in advertising. All for it.

Anyway, Redskins isn't honorary, nor is it derogatory. It's just a name. Changing it isn't going to make anyone richer, wiser, more free, or better looking. Though it would make some of the liberal elite a lot more smug (if that is possible).

But, if the name had to be changed:

"Chocolate City Pimps" with Marion Barry as the mascot seems appropriate.


Posted by: mdsinc | November 16, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Good lord.

How many more (non-researched) opinions must we have?

In fact, is research required at all at WAPO?

To use the native americans as the reason to change the team name has been debunked numerous times.

Will someone do the research first before throwing out yet another idea?

Ugh.

Hail to the Redskins.

Posted by: AWWNats | November 16, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Actually the Washington Redskins started their franchise as the Boston Braves in 1932. In 1933 they changed the franchise name to The Redskins. This is actually a reference to the Boston Tea Party during the revolutionary war era, when Bostonians dressed up as Native Americans painting their skin red and tossing all the British tea into the harbor in protest of the tea tax that was levied on the colonies. The name honors our revolutionary founding fathers and their protest. I have Native American ancestors and am an adopted member of the Mattaponi tribe in Williamsburg. I do not find anything offensive about the name, and think it is a ridiculous waste of time to clog our already overburdened court systems with such litigation.

Posted by: teybear | November 16, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow she must really hate Snyder..Dan is already not liked in Washington.. if he changes Redskins to something else it could get him killed.. BTW as long as we are talking offensive names how about Negro. That's offensive to many Blacks no??? So I sure her next fight will be to change the name of the United Negro College Fund.. since she has already lost this battle..

Posted by: sovine08 | November 16, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I am no fan of Dan Snyder and he seems like the last person to deserve this court victory that will allow him to keep the name.

However, is the name truly derogatory? I don't know. I'm not an American Indian - I might have a tiny bit of Indian blood on my maternal grandmother's side of the family but I'm in no way an American Indian - so I don't profess to tell an Indian whether he or she should take offense at the name. For those American Indians who take offense at the name, aren't there an awful lot who do not take offense or who think they have bigger problems to worry about in 2009?

I do have to take issue with one part of your post, Ms. Rodriguez. To say that Abe Pollin set the standard for virtuous behavior by the owner of a pro sports team by changing his basketball team's nickname from "Bullets" to "Wizards" out of some sense of moral shame - that a team of his with that kind of nickname played its games in a city rampant with gun violence -is pretty laughable.

You even alluded to the uptick in merchandise sales he likely reaped upon changing the nickname and the logo. Do you think? How many of those red, white, and blue jerseys (made famous in the late 70's when a trip to the second round of the playoffs wasn't the hallmark of a "great" season around here) with the name "Bullets," featuring the two L's forming hands reaching skyward for a basketball, was he selling by the mid-90s when the Bullets were atrocious? What, 8 or 10 a year?

Call me a cynic, and I admire the many civic and charitable works Mr. Pollin has done for Washington, but I think his decision to change the team's name had more to do with simple economics and the desire to generate more revenue, not out of some sense of moral imperative.

Posted by: bmcconnell1 | November 16, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Sheesh! Eva, give it a rest. This is the umpteenth time you’ve brought this up.

Please consider three thoughts:

1. In a March 4, 2002 Sports Illustrated 7 page editorial entitled "The Indian Wars", a poll was conducted amongst Native Americans. "Asked if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames, 81% of Native American respondents said no. As for pro sports, 83% of Native American respondents said teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters and symbols."

2. In this context, “Redskins” isn’t racist – it’s historical. It refers the red ochre (mixed with fat) with which Algonquians and other northeastern Natives painted themselves (including my tribe). It has nothing to do with scalps, the color of their flesh or blood – it refers to face paint. The University of Pennsylvania has done a very nice bit of research into this; I commend their website.

3. The Redskins mascot is portrayed with dignity; it is neither cartoonish (like Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians), nor exaggerated in his fierceness.

I am a significant part Native (primarily Western Branch Seneca and Mohican) - this doesn't bother me; please don't let it bother you. Find a battle that truly needs to be fought.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | November 16, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@ primegrop and @ mdsinc - you both are racist. period. To point out that "a small minority of Native Americans" are complaining. For you to even think it doesn't reference skin color is plain stupid. Or "Chocolate City Pimps" comment just displays your ignorance. Really. Liberals have nothing to do with it either, pathetic... The name is racist, everyone one with any sense knows it. Its offensive and George Preston Marshall knew it was when he changed the name from Braves to Redskins. Its a mockery. Furthermore, the team was the last team in the NFL under Marshall to allow African American players. Ironic because 2 of the 3 Superbowl trophies the team has had a African American and Native American QB leading the teams.

Posted by: thereal007 | November 16, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Yawn - - nothing gets me bored more quickly than the preaching of the sanctimonious politically-correct crowd. And nothing more quickly puts me on the other side of their position either. Give it a rest, rodriquez.

Posted by: segeny | November 16, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

When Snyder bought the team, I hoped he's change the name to "Skins." First of all, it's already the nickname of the team so wouldn't cause confusion. And given that the team represents the most multi-culti city in the world, I could see a logo of overlapping profiles in different hues that would work just fine on hats and bumperstickers.

Posted by: mxyzptlk1 | November 16, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I heard that the Carolina Negroes are having a great year.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I offend you?

Posted by: joshlct | November 16, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I have one problem with this...

You state, "In fact, the Wizards probably profited from sales of jerseys, jackets, caps and other merchandise emblazoned with the new team logo and name."

Did they or didn't they? You don't know. Please do some reporting to back up your key statements.

Posted by: McGill34 | November 16, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Offense can always be found by someone looking for it. Common sense suggests we look at context before finding offense.

Technically, "Fighting Irish", along with the leprechaun-like fist raised character logo, implies the Irish are simple minded drunken brawlers. Offensive to some Irish or some of Irish descent? Certainly. Instead, most people understand the term denotes a college football team from a school with an Irish heritage who identifies with tenacity and fighting spirit in the face of difficult odds.

Clearly, the Redskins team was named to identify with these same qualities displayed by native americans. What team or fans would want to be associated with something they despise or wish to put down?

Also, meanings of words change over time and meanings are added. For over 80 years now, "Redskins" has denoted a professional football team. Nothing more, nothing less.

Regardless of origins, the standard should be more than an individual or group finding offense. Before a word is banned, there should be determination of how the term is used and the burden should be on the offended party to prove use of the term was directed at them with the intent to harm or offend and, lacking proof of intent, that the harm was substantive (something more than it happens to hurt my particular feelings)

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | November 16, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

It's always (sadly) amusing to watch fans who are so emotionally invested in this name that they can't afford to see straight dance around the point.

I wonder how long a professional sports franchise called the N*****s would last in this town? Would African-Americans be similarly derided as "politically correct whiners" for finding it appalling?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/redskin

red⋅skin
  /ˈrɛdˌskɪn/ [red-skin]

–noun Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive.
a North American Indian.
Origin:
1690–1700, Americanism; red 1 + skin
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

red·skin (rěd'skĭn')
n. Offensive Slang
Used as a disparaging term for a Native American.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 16, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Well, here you have it folks! More insane political correctness run amuck! It never ceases to amaze me, and in some cases, sickens me, at how the majority should once again be forced to accept the ideals of the minority. In this case, we’re talking a mere 7 misguided, umm, “activists”, whom every NFL, and Redskins fan must buckle over to appease. Oh yeah, now that would be the real American thing to do, wouldn't it? This Redskins name insanity, is another perfect example of the infringement, and weakening of American tradition, and culture. In reality, it's been documented that there are many, many more Native Americans who very much like the NFL Redskins name, then those who don’t. And in this case, it’s 7 who don’t like the name. So, I mean, give us all a break already! Since 1937, the NFL “Redskins” have been a symbol, and representation of teamwork, strength, courage, pride, dedication, bravery, heritage, and most notably, honor, to all Native Americans. People really need to lighten the heck up and knock off with the frivolous BS lawsuits! I say no; not “time for “Redskins to go”. It’s people who write columns like this one that should go.

Posted by: BostonMark | November 16, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

So...

It's perfectly acceptable for the Washington Post and every other newspaper and TV station in the country to refer to Caucasians as "whites" - referring to our skin color in a descriptive way.

But it's offensive to refer to a certain other group of people as "redskins" also because it's descriptive of their skin color?

How does that work again?

(Even though neither is particularly accurate as to color).

Posted by: jb1123 | November 16, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

There is always much more to any story. Context and intent matter. There is a package store called "The Neck's Stop" northeast of Baltimore. Judging by the busy lot each time I pass by, I'd say folks are not taking offense, they are taking their dollars into the store.

Anyway, re the Redskins, the following was s posted on another blog, same subject by logan9 who wrote:

"Time for a history lesson. Back in 1933 the Boston Braves football team changed the name to Redskins when they moved to Fenway Park. So they had to dump Braves because they no longer played at the homefield of baseball's Boston Braves. But instead of Red Sox, they went with Redskins in honor of their Native-American coach William "Lone Star" Dietz, who apparently did not find the name offensive. Credit here to earlier poster.

As for the name Redskins according to America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage: The First Americans: Their Customs, Art, History and How They Lived , a book published by Reader’s Digest:

"The term Redskin, applied by Europeans to Algonquins in general and the Delawares in particular," says the Reader’s Digest in its book America’s Fascinating Indian Heritage , "was inspired not by their natural complexion but by their fondness for vermilion makeup, concocted from fat mixed with berry juice and minerals that provided the desired color." The men "would streak their faces and bodies with bright red ocher and bloodroot," adds the Reader’s Digest .

Indians painted their skin for decorative and ceremonial purposes. "Red is generally accepted as being one of the colors most easily available to and most used by Indians," as Ronald P. Koch states in his book Dress Clothing of the Plains Indians ."

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | November 16, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

The name will never change--for whatever twisted reason that is beyond me, large numbers of people ENJOY being offensive.

Posted by: distance88 | November 16, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

By the way, congrats to the "Bronx Mafioso Wops" on their World Series victory this year.

Doesn't that name just "glorify their fighting spirit"? How no one can stand in their way when they want something? Yeah. Love those Wops. Big fan of the Wops.

Same dictionary, same definition (replace ethnicity/background) here:

Go dirty Wops. My team, proud of it.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wop

wop (wŏp)

n. Offensive Slang
Used as a disparaging term for a person of Italian birth or descent.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

The fact of the matter is that the term 'Redskin' has both offensive (genocidal) origins and innocuous (descriptive of skin/pigment) ones.

But this argument shouldn't be so much about whether or not 'Redskin' is offensive so much as its usage is ridiculous.

How would the black community react to a team simply called the 'Chicago African Americans'? There's nothing offensive about it, but it's completely ridiculous.

As a Native person, I am simply tired of having the faces of Indians put side-by-side with mythical creatures or extinct civilizations. I am tired of Indians being viewed side-by-side with Vikings, Titans, Pirates, and a pantheon of wild animals.

I'm tired of little white kids and little black kids seeing me at a powwow and gawking at me like I'm a damn fairy tale creature - and yes, having teams named after the whole of Native people in the same context-free circumstances as the Vikings, Raiders, Bears, Lions, and Bengals DOES contribute to us being viewed as zoo animals and living museum exhibits.

As for this SI survey that all these pro-Redskins fanatics constantly harp on as the be-all-end-all opinion of Native America on the Redskins topic, please consider the following and remember that a single haphazard non-scientific poll does not a basis in fact make: http://www.bluecorncomics.com/sipoll.htm

Indeed there are teams named after living people - but the Texans, Steelers, Packers, and Cowboys are all names derived from pride in specific local culture. I would seriously doubt that Dan Snyder or any former owner of this team could so much as name the enormous Indian village that once covered Washington D.C. (contrary to popular belief, it wasn't always a desolate swamp), nor the people that inhabited it.

If you want to name the team after local Indians, fine. Change the name to the 'Necostans' or the 'Piscataway' or even the 'Kanawah' or 'Conoy', and I will celebrate the name and encourage all other Indians to do so.

But to try to 'honor' us with a name whose equivalent would be tolerated by NO OTHER RACE - regardless of whether or not it's offensive - is delusional at best and disingenuous at worst.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Eva R it is and will always be the REDSKINS!! I grew up in DC and have several Indian friends who are not offended. It is a small minority of Indians who spend most of their time looking to see anything around the country that offends them. Their priorities should be why are there so many uneducated Indians who refuse to go to college when it is paid for by the US government and why do 38% have serious alcohol problems!!!

Posted by: Theo7 | November 16, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

BostonMark

"This Redskins name insanity, is another perfect example of the infringement, and weakening of American tradition, and culture."

Exact same "patriotic" argument that was made to defend the sanctity and "tradition" of "Southern Culture" known as Jim Crow.

This brand of apologists is with us in every generation, I guess.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 16, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

distance88: I agree large numbers of people enjoy being offensive but do not agree that is the intent or purpose of the name for the football team. Furthermore, the fact that large numbers of people support the team name does not necessarily mean they do so because they enjoy being offensive.

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | November 16, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Seems like a lot of the Washington NFL football team fans are as pathetic as the team that they worship.

Posted by: alamo2 | November 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I do not concur that some of the names mentioned by various posters would not be tolerated by other races or groups.

It all depends. "Redneck" was originally a perjorative term (and still is to some), yet it has increasingly become mainstream and widely accepted when used in positive ways. Hence, my example of the store called "The Neck's Stop" in an earlier post.

Heck, "Patriots" sounds good to most americans and after 200 years is probably OK with most Brits, but from their point of view, it meant traitors and rebels back in 1776. BTW, if you fought for the south in the Civil War (or is it the War Between the States?) were you a Patriot or a Traitor?

Funny how there are a lot of groups with southern heritage that have Rebels or Fighting Rebels in their names. I suppose Yankees should file suits against such names (after all what about the Andersonville Prison atrocities that happened to blue coat prisoners?

Posted by: mi-ti-bear | November 16, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It's really similar to the confederate flag debacle down south. On one hand, there are the antebellum traditionalists who say that the stars and bars are part of their heritage, and on the other is everyone else, who view it as a symbol of oppression.

My view is that the neighborly thing to do is to have a little empathy for what something like the confederate flag means to black people, and what the term Redskin means to Indians.

Those symbols might not bug Joe Everyman, but they're radioactive to other people. Can't they choose some other symbol of pride that doesn't peeve people so much?

Wouldn't changing those symbols be an act of good faith for people who've had a bit of a rough time historically? After smallpox and civil rights, what's wrong with putting people at ease and showing a little sensitivity? What the hell's 'liberal elite' about blacks and indians? Tripe as usual. Pleeze.

And what's going on psychologically, anyway? Is resistance to change some kind of fear of a totalitarian PC superstate, or just plain disrespect wrapped in tradition?

In America, freedom of speech should come with a bit of responsibility and respect. Just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.

I say change the name and move on.

Hail to the XXX's! Fight for Old DC! Fine.

Posted by: itstrue | November 16, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I find it difficult to believe that the Washingtron Redskins intend this to be disparaging toward the American Indians. I think they mean it as a term for an organization that is a fight for right and for the win. If you look they took the name at the time when they had been the Boston Braves in honor of their coach at the time who was an Native American. So....

Posted by: staterighter | November 16, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

It's time for more then the name to go.

It's time for the S.Ct. to hire it's first Native American clerk.

It's time for Obama to nominate some Native American Federal Judges.

It's time for these racists to stop saying it's honoring me or my people.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | November 16, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | November 16, 2009 2:39 PM

Lies and damned lies.

I do not know any of my fellow Native Americans that look like that stereotype.

Citing a poll from ten years ago is nonsense and you know it.

And the term refers to the bounty paid for the slaughter and genocide committed against tribes.

You are about as Indian as Scalia.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | November 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Derogatory? Pejorative? Offensive?

That's Nonsense. Has anyone polled native Americans on the subject?

I half expected Rodriguez to suggest a substitute name; i.e. 'Washington Red, White and Blue Skins.'

Posted by: maybat1 | November 16, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Derogatory? Pejorative? Offensive?

That's Nonsense. Has anyone polled native Americans on the subject?

I half expected Rodriguez to suggest a substitute name; i.e. 'Washington Red, White and Blue Skins.'

Posted by: maybat1 | November 16, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey thereal007,
I posed an open question and you call me a racist? Krikee! What does that say about you? I wonder if you are not an unthinking reactionist. Take a stress tab, then re-read my post.

Posted by: primegrop | November 16, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"whooping it up" and "red in the face?"

Stop it, Eva, you're killing me. And to think that I thought at first that this was a serious column...

Posted by: hisroc | November 16, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

This is an important discussion; one worth considering in all of its linguistic, historical, and sports guises. There are good points and much to be learned from the different sides.

But it's not one that should be trivialized or involve mocking comments that show a distinct lack of knowledge or sensitivity. For example, "Whites" has never been used as a disparaging racist term whereas "Redskins" has.

And "Redskins" isn't just a term about skin coloring, but one that has also involved bigotry and hatred.

From the New Oxford American Dictionary:

"Redskin is first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian peoples generally, but specifically to the Delaware (who lived in what is now southern New York State and New York City, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania). Redskin referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware, but to their use of vermilion face paint and body paint.

In time, however, through a process that in linguistics is called *pejoration*, by which a neutral term acquires an unfavorable connotation or denotation, redskin lost its neutral, accurate descriptive sense and became a term of disparagement."

In any event, team name change or not, Snyder has to go!

Posted by: Astrogal | November 16, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

As I’ve read through the various comments on the origin of the name ‘Redskins’ I’ve been struck by the lack of citation or documentation. Let me provide a link to the University of Pennsylvania language archive on the origin of the name – it refutes the racism/bloody scalp/body rumor and cites both the origin of the rumors and origin of the actual name:

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002961.html

As an American ‘mutt’ who is a large part Native (Iroquois Nation – several different tribes), I am not offended by the name ‘Redskin’ any more than I am offended by ‘White man’. I also look at the overall depiction of the Native American by the Washington team and I do not see anything other than a noble depiction of the Brave. Had the logo been cartoonish or had the team used a Muppet-like Native for the mascot, then that would be a different story.

As has been stated by others, the seven in the lawsuit do not speak for this Redskin.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | November 16, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

anarcho-liberal-tarian,

Please read my previous post. The University of Pennsylvania has much to say on the subject.

Apology accepted.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | November 16, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Theo7 said...

"I grew up in DC and have several Indian friends who are not offended."

...and then said...

"...why are there so many uneducated Indians who refuse to go to college when it is paid for by the US government and why do 38% have serious alcohol problems!!!"

There is no way you have Indian friends and a.) make this statement, and b.) don't know the answer.

Let me guess - your 'Indian' friends are people with a Cherokee great grandmother. Or maybe their Blackfoot. That one's getting real popular these days.

I love this comment thread. When it comes to defending the Redskins, everybody suddenly has a bunch of Indian friends, and people that probably spend everyday passing for black, white, or Latino suddenly become Indian via their great-great-great-great grandmother so they can comment with 'authority' on this topic.

You wasicun should be ashamed of yourselves. And don't worry, 'wasicun' has ambiguous meaning, just like Redskin.

Idiots.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading this but I'm not believing some of you. Huh... do you remember any of the history of this country? Or do you continue to revel in ignorant bliss about being a saviour of democratic values and principles? Appears to me that at least admitting that the name of a sports team in 2009, might be offensive to an entire group of people that this country once gave blankets carrying diseases, might be a start.

Posted by: Masonlee | November 16, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

As a Redskins fan for life I don't have a problem with the name. If they want to make it illegal to have any name refering to people, i.e. nix the Vikings, the Fighting Irish, the Orangemen etc.. etc... on down the line then they can get rid of Redskins to, until then I say keep it.

Posted by: DCDave11 | November 16, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The whole issue could be avoided if the team were to change the mascott from a depiction of a native American to that of a red potato. Unless, of course, someone is concerned about the feelings of red potatos.

Posted by: primegrop | November 16, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"When they locked in battle, the red men would be released from their reservations"

This is part of a prophecy told by Mad Bear of the Iroquois nation.

As a half Chippewa AND a Redskins fan, with a family of full blooded Chippewa and Ojibwa ralatives, I can tell you that other than a very few who make ther livings as activists, the term Redskin doesn't bother us.

Some things we do actually discuss around the dinner table when we get together:

1) The mismanagement of our homelands by the Bureau of Land Mangement, and Slaughter of the last of North Americas wild Mustangs which is, in fact, being argued on the hill this week.
2) Lack of proper education and the extreme depths of poverty found on the reservation that you have never seen unless you've actually visted one that isn't tied to a tourist trap or casino.
3) Robert Rubin & Bruce Babbit under the Clinton administration claiming that our Federal Land records were "untouchable" because the physical files were contaminated with rat feces in the Indian Affairs archives, and when pressed Rubin stating that "Indian Affiars really aren't a priority right now". To date, these records have never been released.
4) Pick one, I could go on forever.....!

So, if you are going to state that your sensibilities are being adulterated by something as benign as the name of a sports team mascot, I would ask you to champion some Indian Affairs issues that actually mean something to Native Americans and direct your energy in a more useful fashion rather than piggy backing on the headline issue of the day in order to satisfy your own moral interests.

Posted by: yampaco | November 16, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Comment for Conoy..

Several people who I grew up with say they are full blooded Indians I took their comments at face value. When I grew up in DC color was not a factor nor was race. You sound like one of the new PC types that are destroying this great country...

Posted by: Theo7 | November 16, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

yampaco stated,

As a half Chippewa AND a Redskins fan, with a family of full blooded Chippewa and Ojibwa ralatives, I can tell you that other than a very few who make ther livings as activists, the term Redskin doesn't bother us.

So, if you are going to state that your sensibilities are being adulterated by something as benign as the name of a sports team mascot, I would ask you to champion some Indian Affairs issues that actually mean something to Native Americans and direct your energy in a more useful fashion rather than piggy backing on the headline issue of the day in order to satisfy your own moral interests.

========

Exactly! I'm 5/16's Iroquois Nation and I
share your sentiment. In my first post to Ms. Rodridguez, I suggest that she find a real cause; not some symbolic upper-middle class, well-intentioned, so-I-can-feel-good cause like changing a sports team name.

Native peoples have some real issues. Almost a third of the adult Native people in Texas and New Mexico are alcoholic. Unemployment is staggering in some areas. The assimilation into American culture without losing one's identity is often overwhelming.

It is even worse for the Native population across the border in Mexico.

The overall scope of life, the name of a sports team matters very little.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | November 16, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Please give me a break, Ms. Rodriguez. Political Correctness run amuck has weakened our country in so many ways the last 40 plus years. It is time for people to grow up ad get over it. Political correctness cost 13 soldiers their lives two weeks ago. The Redskins have now been in existence for well over SEVENTY-FIVE years, count them if you can count that high. Oh me, oh my, some childish Native Americans have decided they are offended, I am offended by their attitude, whay is the redress for me. ANYONE familiar with the history of the Washington REDSKINS knows full well that the team nickname honors the American Indian, not demeans them, so the offense as with so many other such things is purely in their imagination.

Our constitution does not provide any Constitutional protection against being offended, being offended is part of every day life. However, if they truly believe that they are offended by the Redskins and want their pound of flesh, then I want MY pound of flesh from them and YOU for offending ME for the last 17 years.

Time to grow up, people.

Posted by: Skipnet50 | November 16, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

"I can tell you that other than a very few who make ther livings as activists, the term Redskin doesn't bother us."

I am full blooded Piscataway (I look like the damn Redskins logo), I am not an activist, and find the term ludicrous.

For those Indians in the mid-Atlantic who dealt with you-know-who for a couple centuries before you western boys did (and before the USA existed) - we have no reservations, no land being managed by BLM, no land records, and no standing with the federal government.

It's nice that you have bigger fish to fry.

It's nice that those of you that don't look like the Indian on the helmet can pull out a CDIB and silence people that ask "are you really Indian?"

Those of us in the east don't have that option. Teams with Indian names and Indian characters perpetuate a myth of what Indian people are and are supposed to look like and leads to accelerated assimilation and cultural erosion for eastern tribes.

As an Indian person, I'm sure you are familiar with the peer pressure that our kids endure in mixed-race environments. The eastern kids can't answer the taunts of others with the trappings of Indian-ness bestowed on us by you-know-who: reservations, CDIBs, Federal recognition.

The kids in my tribe are turning to everything from denying their heritage, to alcoholism, to suicide as a result of the social stigma. I know this because I'm the point man for collecting health statistics among our community.

So while I understand that it's not a big deal to you and other mostly western tribes that made a covenant with the Federal government, for many of us in the east the public perception of Indians is THE major issue in Indian country, and is a matter of life and death. I would request you not trivialize it.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Comment for Theo7:

"You sound like one of the new PC types that are destroying this great country..."

You're talking to an active duty U.S. Marine, Theo. Sell your sanctimony somewhere else.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Conoy (and all the others too lazy to do research):

Please check out the postings of those who have bothered to do more than check their "feelings".

You now how some real research and history that you can ignore in favor of your feelings.

Posted by: AWWNats | November 16, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Comment for Conroy..

Peace... thanks for your service from a former ground pounder ( class of 69 )

Posted by: Theo7 | November 16, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Such a great idea Hillman1! Washington Warriors--I love it!

The other idea would be, in lieu of changing the name, have a portion of revenue from merchandise go to a native American cause or charity.

Posted by: dhenken1 | November 16, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

To AWWNats and every other 'researcher' on this board:

I've got a research project for you.

In the first weekend of June every year, there is a powwow on Country Ln. in Waldorf, MD. Go to this powwow, and seek out my buddy Keith, the man who gifted me my first eagle feathers, pictured here:

http://piscatawayindians.org/images/Keith.jpg

Call him a Redskin.

I. dare. you.

Let's see what your 'feelings' are after that, assuming you can still feel anything at all.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Rodriguez, you are equivocating the slurs 'Spic' and 'Coolies' with the descriptive moniker 'Redskins'. They are NOT the same. For your benefit, I have plagarized the two comments from posts about the Supreme Court's decision not to get involved: 1)"In California, a bill, presented by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, to ban the name Redskins as a public school mascot was vetoed more than once. There were many supporters against the bill, including students from schools with the Redskin mascot, most prominently Tulare Union High School in Tulare, California, as well as members of the Tachi-Yokut tribe who deemed the fact that schools had Redskin as a mascot incited a sense of pride" 2)See the poll by the U of PA's Annenberg Institute from a few years ago which found 91% support among Native Americans for the name Washington Redskins. And I will quote myself here: "I am a "Whiteskin". I have played ball with Blackskins, Brownskins, Yellowskins and Redskins. None of us really noticed: nature's problem, not ours. Makes me wonder if some Native Americans in America think there is something wrong with their skin...no one else seems to mind. I have a little "Red" in my skin too: Cherokee. There is an old adage that says, "any advertising, even 'bad' advertising is good advertising!" Having a major league baseball team practically named after you might be a good thing in America as a point of pride and something of better use than to be claimed as disparaging...in my opinion. If the litigants are making an issue of this for a reason, I wonder, what's the reason? To what end?"

Posted by: RonFercken | November 16, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

To Conoy:

Ask your friend to consider the real origins of the term as well as the results of the real and historical surveys. If any of us choose to take something as a personal slur, we can be angry. If something is intended to be a slur, we can be angry. The term Redskin as the team name for our NFL team is neither a slur, not intended as a slur.

Blacks refer to each other using a term that is acceptable for use by blacks among blacks. If someone who is not black uses the term, it is unacceptable.

Razorback fans don't mind being called a pig. Don't use that term on a law enforcement officer.

How selected individuals decide to react to a specific term is up to them. The term Redskin has had its origins proved, has been determined to be a favorable term by scientific surveys of native americans, and has never been inteneded as a slur.

Anything else?

Posted by: AWWNats | November 16, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Just one more post...Hasn't it become apparent that by remaining on Reservations and identifying with tribal cultures, Native Americans are not willing to "assimilate" into white society? That they have COLLECTIVELY fought this since the Frontier days? YES, they ARE Redskins, and darned proud of it!! These Peoples have a stake in America: they are landowners and mineral rights owners and more. Don't diminish them by obfuscating Red Pride with a small bunch of (I'll be kind) dissidents' trivial lawsuit over a trademark issue!

Posted by: RonFercken | November 16, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the Post anti-Snyder agenda hits high gear again. We will undoubtedly get orchestrated (and highly patronizing) columns from Mike Wise, What's his name Milloy and who the hell knows what other Post p.c. nitwit telling us the horrors of what the Supreme Court did. Face it, the name ain't changing and polls have shown that 91% of Native Americans are in full agreement with that (See Univ of PA Annenberg Institute poll, that is the one that the p.c. twits never want to address). And Pollin was stupid to change the name of the Bullets too.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 16, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Someone else noted what I've been saying for at least 10 years: leave the name, and just put a potato on the helmet. Problem solved :>)

Posted by: snowbird25 | November 16, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Conoy: you're basically misrepresenting things in support of your p.c. agenda. The SI poll was not non-scientific. It was highly scientific, as you would know if you had actually read it and the corresponding article. And there is not ONE poll on this. As I said in my prior post, the U of PA poll showed even HIGHER support for the name Washington Redskins among Native Americans. Face it, this is an issue that only a few wack job activists (and their enablers like this twit, Mike Wise, etc) care about.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 16, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

God damn Redskins.

Posted by: dmls2000 | November 16, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Well some people think the Redskins should change their name but most say they shouldn't.. The Supreme Court has spoken and the Redskins don't have to change their name.. Democracy at work. Bottomline Snyder answers to Redskin fans, since they buy the tickets, so there is no way he will change the name of the team. For those who don't like it.. well hey you can't always get your way. I suggest you buy your own team and and name it the Palefaces.. Of course it won't bother white people but hopefully you'll feel better...

Posted by: sovine08 | November 16, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Redskins could be the most offensive nickname ever used in sports on the planet Earth.

The fact that the nimrods in charge won't change it speaks volumes. Good lord, Stanford went from the Stanford Indians (innocuous compared to the "Redskins") to the Stanford Cardinals decades ago without any adverse effects. Get with it, DC!!!!!

Posted by: dlopata | November 16, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they could use some derogatory term for Hispanics. Then Eva could have lots to write about. Fire Snyder. Fire Cerrato. Fire Rodriquez.
Get over it.

Posted by: pjohn2 | November 16, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

dlpata: Get a life!

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 16, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

To AWWNats:

As I said before, my issue has nothing to do with whether or not the term 'Redskin' is the red man's N word. Semantics is not my concern or my specialty.

My concern on the issue has to do with the social stigma that particularly affects young Indian children in first-contact tribes in the east.

An Indian child in a classroom that identifies as Indian has to deal with other kids jumping around, doing tomahawk chops, war whooping, folding their arms and saying 'ugh' and any other amount of nonsense from preschool all the way through friggin' high school. They have to deal with being called 'fake Indians' because they live in a house instead of a tipi and aren't wearing leather and feathers.

Where does this behavior come from?

It comes from the fact that most people's ONLY associations with Native Americans are derived from symbols in popular culture, which includes athletic teams with Indian names and all the ritual and symbols associated with them.

Are we going to pretend that Chief Zee's dress and behavior, or the infamous tomahawk chop, or the stoic gaze of the Redskins image, or the insanely grotesque caricature of the Cleveland Indians, or the countless newspaper headlines stating 'Redskins Scalp Cowboys!' after a skins victory - all of which are seen by millions of people every damn day - isn't a significant source of that stigma and stereotype?

Comparisons to teams like the Vikings, Packers, the Fighting Irish, and Steelers are completely false. No one is filling out the 'Viking' box on the U.S. Census. 'Packers' and 'Steelers' are reflections of pride in local industry. The Fighting Irish were named by their Irish Catholic founders.

The scale, depth, and consequences of this stigma are by far worse for Native people than for any other minority group and, as I've stated above, has been directly linked to catastrophic rates of depression, suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, and outright denial of Indian blood for Native people.

This 'Redskins' thing is not about hurt feelings, name calling, soapboxing, or political correctness. It's about removing a source of what is, for my tribe and many others in the east that collect health statistics on their own communities, THE LEADING CAUSE of youth suicide, addiction, depression, and cultural self-denial.

Posted by: Conoy | November 16, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

So when Indians called the European immigrants "pale-face", where they being racist?

The name stays. Now shut up Sanchez.

Posted by: BO__Stinks | November 16, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I spent a couple of week out in Navajo nation this summer. The people there impressed me as decent and proud of their heritage. I couldn't imagine walking around out there wearing a jacket from the Washington NFL team. But if you think the name and paraphernalia are ok, maybe you should try it. You can explain to them how we think it is good entertainment and good business to ridicule entire cultures we have committed genocide against.

Posted by: vmax02rider | November 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

AHHHH! This is madness...almost all of you MUST be white.
1. My grandmother was the color of a beautiful RED apple.(Men never stopped staring at her) She had hair that took 1 full bottle of shampoo to wash! 2. You have not been nearly exterminated because of what you are & if so, you should have more sensitivity. That is why your people had sense enough to leave the oppressive tyranny of Europe!3. Unless the NFL plans to give 20% of its profits to numerous Native American Charities and they should respect their wishes to change the name, these owners need to reconsider who they represent.3. The Boston Tea Party spawned wide-spread lynchings of Natives in the area for a week, until it was discovered that it was whites and not Natives (duh!). Remember, we did not have CNN back then!4. "Chocolate City Pimps"?...now that we have an African American President on Penn. Ave. I guess it would be ok? (a pimp would call you a "punk a** b****" for that!)& Marion Barry is not responsible for all of the dope that is shipped into our nations capitol. He was just a customer like all the other partying politicians (he didn't party by himself in D.C., folks). 5. This change would only be a start...did anyone know the real meaning of the word "Knicker-Bockers" aka the New York Knicks. It means slave-traders or n***** barkers! How's that for education. 5. I will never know what it is like to not be discriminated. I am both Af-Am and Native and not a day goes by someone doesn't make a joke of my heritage. Yesterday someone motion that he would "scalp" me while sitting at a traffic light! 6. UGH... IS NOT A WORD!It is something made up from films & TV.
7.I love football. My entire family plays varsity...some ARE PROS. But I don't need anymore racist names emblazened on my forehead. The team theme song was written by a 1900's Hollywood song writer for silent movies who guessed what Native American music was like.Unless you are me, you will never understand what it is like to hear that freakin' song. It's like taking the National Anthem and making up some words.7. Ireland is a COUNTRY. The elves are a part of their mythical CULTURE. Does anyone know any mythical creatures from any real Native American Countries (yes, we had different countries too)? (Hint: KOKOPELE / HOPI NATION)...My relatives help build the World Trade Center. They were known as the Cherokee Construction Crew or CCC (hint)....Now I must pray to my ancestors to keep calm... I love you grandma & thank-you for cleaning the Statue of Liberty for 30 years. Now I see how you and her look exactly alike....You both have those big beautiful arms. I miss you so much....Amen. Football represents peaceful competition instead of bloody war. It's wonderful to see so many types of men playing the sport together and shaking hands at the end. Let's keep race out of the picture, it's a new day..Yahay! Thanks Ms. Rodrequez

Posted by: NATIVESON5 | November 16, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Conroy,

Relax. Go grab yourself a squaw and have some firewater.

Posted by: BO__Stinks | November 16, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

oh, and yes, I goofed...it is a football team. Sorry...hope I haven't offended anyone...would hate to bother the Supreme Court about this when I too am sued. Litigation, anyone? The new American Sport.

Posted by: RonFercken | November 16, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I went to a Redskins game a couple of years ago and there was a young woman behind us who was cheering for both teams. She said she likes Washington and she likes Atlanta, so she was cheering for both. She and Eva would get along just fine.
Trite little article for people who know and care little about sports or tradition.

Posted by: kls1 | November 16, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

The Supremes have spoken.It`s all over but the whimpers of the few in the PC crowd who are off the reservation...no pun intended.

Posted by: bowspray | November 16, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

This is just more pc liberal dribble. We have the West Virginia Mountaineers, their mascot is a man dressed in buckskin clothing who shoorts a long rifle. We have the Michigan State Spartans, their mascot is a fake muscled bound guy.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Notre Dame went by a number of names before taking on the name "Fighting Irish" which was used as a slur against them by fans from other schools.

Funny how the fans of those schools are not upset with the associated sterotypes of their mascots. Funny how the media does not focus on those mascots either.

I'd love to have a school use a Rebel Soldier as a mascot. Dress him in a ratty grey uniform, put a pipe in his mouth, give him a Confederate Battle Flag, dress him without boots. As a Southerner, that would be a great source of pride. Funny, though that would not be offensive to people like me, rather it would be offense to everyone else. And, there is the whole point in this silly debate.

Those that worship at the alter of PC, try to have it both ways. They find offense of American Indian mascots because they say it's offensive to American Indians. They say using any mascot related to Confederate Soldiers is offensive not to those that honor their Southern Heritage, but others.

Posted by: irish031 | November 16, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone here EVER heard ANYONE use the term "Redskin" as a derogatory term?

Posted by: kieran2001 | November 16, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

For such an offensive name, lots of people sure say it with a lot of respect for their team. It is possible that a word can change meaning. The first thing people used to think when they heard 'gay' was happy. Now they think homosexual. Maybe we are all becoming a bunch of PC babies who would like nothing better than to have a big throw your self on the ground, scream and kick you feet tantrum.

Posted by: thelaw1 | November 16, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Stop already! Go away! Mind your own business! Your just making trouble for no reason. The issue has been litigated. End of story. You don't have a dog in this fight.

Posted by: qball43 | November 16, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Stop already! Go away! Mind your own business! Your just making trouble for no reason. The issue has been litigated. End of story. You don't have a dog in this fight.

Posted by: qball43 | November 16, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

"Redskins management no doubt is whooping it up." "...argue until we're red in the face."

Thanks Eva. At first I thought that I was reading a serious column until I saw those lines. Nice choice of words.

Posted by: hisroc | November 16, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I am from Argentina. "Spics" does not bother me a bit. The insult offends more at the teller.
Go to the important things.

Posted by: cordobes17 | November 16, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Grow-up everyone! Its time for Rodriguez to go and find something worthwile to do with her time.

Posted by: dhbrown52 | November 16, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

What is really great is that so many WaPo readers know more about the etymology of "redskin" than the Oxford English Dictionary! This is great! I had no idea that there were so many learned folk lurking about. Silly OED! Its editors think the origin is c.1769 translated from the French after Illinois native usage. But thanks to all of you, we now know it is really about the Boston Tea Party or Algonquin makeup, or something else. Thanks!

Incidentally, "Vikings" (Go Vikes! Go Favre!) is not analogous as it has never been used in a derogatory manner. Neither are "(the N-word)" or "WOP" as they have always been used so.

If you want a name that was once innocuous and is now derogatory, I would suggest "Senators," as I may, one day, not hate Dan Snyder, but will never, ever, less-than-detest Bob Short.

Posted by: 51fordf2 | November 16, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on. The house is burning down and you are going on about the color of the shingles!!!!! "Now it's up to Redskins owner Dan Snyder to do the right thing." Give us all a break - go back to never-never land and play with children. The adults know that Danny Boy has been screwing everything that moves to satisfy his own ego. The fans, team, players - it is completely appropriate that the team's name reminds us all of how a noble race was subjected to genocide. Let the name stand as long as Snyder owns the team. There is none more appropriate.

Posted by: DoneWithDan | November 16, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who doubts that "Redskins" is a derogatory term just ought to watch an episode of "Star Trek" in which an ultra-white alien race sneering and repeatedly refers to humans as the "Pinkskins."

Posted by: Freestater | November 16, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Wake-up America in the realm of importance Redskin is joke. As a kid people called me grease ball, whop, and other not so choice things. Let see 45 million Americans do have enough food yet we waste hundreds of billions on two wars. Let see 48 million Americans don't Healthcare. Let see 15 million Ameericans dont have jobs. WAKE UP AMERICA FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT ISSUES NOT THE POLITICALLY CORRECT ONES OR YOU MAY WAKE UP A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: 5913at | November 16, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

In the state I'm from, Eastern Michigan University used to be known as the Hurons. It was changed to the Eagles, even though the Hurons' tribal leadership thought the name was fine.

Hurons is a respectable tribal name. Redskins is a disgusting and derogatory term, and the rest of the nation outside this area uniformly condemns its use. Hard to fathom that such a derogatory term has its defenders. It's not "political correctness" to recognize its ugliness.

Change the name.

Posted by: faygokid | November 16, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading this but I'm not believing some of you. Huh...

do you remember any of the history of this country? Or do you continue to revel in ignorant bliss about being a saviour of democratic values and principles? Appears to me that at least admitting that the name of a sports team in 2009, might be offensive to an entire group of people that this country once gave blankets carrying diseases, might be a start."

The history of this country? Do I remember it?

Yep. Sure do.

Native Americans in continuous tribal war long before Europeans arrived. And, if it wasn't the Brits, or the French, or the Spanish, it was going to be someone of a different skin color that eventually settled the country. Your preference might have been a more acceptable PC dark skinned settler, but history chose, not you.

And, by the way, the United States is the ONLY country where treatment of aboriginals, and slaves, have not only been questioned, but the correction has been acted upon. We owe nothing more.

If the Redskins name (trademark and logo) were actually offensive, it wouldn't have survived. No one wants to denigrate, disparage, or malign people of any skin color.

Call it racism all you want, but that doesn't make it true.

Posted by: mdsinc | November 16, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

How many of you who have taken the time to comment on this column have actually taken the time to write your local, state and federal representatives on behalf of Native Americans regarding issues that actually have some real importance for them? My guess would be NONE.

When you are ready to champion issues such as poverty, education, and land management on the reservations or send a few bucks into the Native American college fund maybe your sanctimonious dissertations will actually have some validity and no longer serve the simple purpose of temporarily pumping up your misplaced sense of moral authority.

The depth of hypocrisy is staggering!

Posted by: jahs4fun | November 16, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

If there is any question about the name being denigrating it should be changed. Why is anybody defending it? What is so great about the name? Not only is the name offensive, it's just plain stupid.

And as long as it isn't, I hope the Redskins continue their terrible record.

Posted by: solsticebelle | November 16, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

another classic BS article. this is right up there with the closing of the blade.wapo is always on top of this crap. what part of the supremes decision do these fools not understand. it is dead,finito,get over it

Posted by: pofinpa | November 16, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

How exactly is the defense that many posters here invoke - that "the Native American has more pressing problems than this" - a convincing argument for the "Redskins" to keep their name? How exactly does that follow, logically?

It's like beating your wife every evening and when someone calls you on it, saying "hey, put this in perspective - she's got terminal cancer. If you really want to help, don't criticize my spousal abuse hobby, cure her cancer!"

I guess denial knows no limits when one is emotionally invested in his pro sports team's racist name.

Posted by: B2O2 | November 17, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Here is my not totally facetious suggestion for resolving this matter: change the team's name to the Washington Crackers. We can characterize the name change as a recognition of the southern heritage of Washington. All of us, regardless of race or ethnicity, can enjoy the joke of a giving such a name to a team in a majority black city and an ethnically diverse region. And perhaps as we all share a good laugh over this, we can begin to recognize that the current "controversy" over the team's current name is trumped up and silly.

Posted by: ccthomas1 | November 17, 2009 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Whatever the merits of the name "Redskins," the author seems unaware of the origin of the name "Bullets," which had nothing to do with firearms. The Washington NBA franchise began its existence in Baltimore, and was named for a famous passenger train, the Baltimore Bullet. When the franchise relocated to Washington, the name followed. The change to "Wizards" was a triumph of political correctness over historical soundness.

Posted by: rspound21 | November 17, 2009 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Now I remember why I hate liberals, because they're politically correct A.S.S.H.O.L.E.S.

Posted by: wjj_johnson | November 17, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't typically read Ms.Rodriguez's commentary, but this one caught my eye, and I thank her for writing it.

PBS has been running a searing 5-part series, "We Shall Remain" about the Native American experience in this country. I believe some or all of the episodes can be watched by going to pbs.org and following the prompts to American Experience. Episodes available for watching are shown at the bottom of the screen.

This series will cause you to weep over what was done to families and little children in our name. And will cause you to re-examine the term "terrorism."

And would also make me say, no matter how inconsequential and silly the "redskins" name issue may seem to some--give these People this little compromise, in what they want. So much was taken from them that can never be restored. So much...see the series.

Posted by: martymar123 | November 17, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

When you know my background you'll discredit my comment, that is, I'm elderly. However, kids, open your minds and listen. Now why is it that I've grown up with the idea that the Native Americans were the most noble part of our heritage?
To me, the Redskins name is a tribute to that part of our history. I've never ever thought of it as being racist. On the contrary.
Of course I grew up with nationality-based epithets. I was a Littsky, a Polack, a Mackerel-snapper, a square-head. My friends were Micks and lantern-jaws, and Frogs and Wops. Somehow, these jibes counted for nothing when it came time to elect our civic leaders. That's because none of this was taken seriously, beyond a way to gripe and carp, human foibles.
Now, none of that was racial, I admit, but on the other hand, Dartmouth College in my state, was admired for its deference to Native Americans. In fact, if my 75-year-old memory serves correctly, they had/have automatic scholarships. In short, there has been nothing in my own history that has not been in accord with respect for American Indians.
And basically, that's why I don't see the name Redskins as offensive. If I could claim descent, I'd be proud.
What is shameful today are the conditions in the Reservations, where it seems to me that a vast part of our population is segregated for convenience sake. We seem to be more concerned for the welfare of immigrants than we are for our true founders.
Well, how about a new name for the Redskins------The NATIVES. I could live with that.

Posted by: moran1 | November 17, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Scalp 'em, swamp 'em
We will take 'em big score
Read 'em, weep 'em, touchdown
We want heap more

-"Hail to the Redskins," original 1937 lyric

Honor my ass.

Posted by: Conoy | November 17, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm a fan of the team, and don't generally think too hard about the name. I generally believe the name is less important than the fact that the team is from where I live. That said, the name is really pretty offensive, and the arguments in favor of it are pretty tortured. I'm certainly not passionate about the issue, but the thinly veiled racism of many of the comments here is more than a little troubling.

Maybe we just replace the logo with a red hog or something? The hog is a more relevant symbol of the actual team anyway.

Posted by: KBfromNC | November 17, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Conoy has proven to be a blowhard but he can't dispute that Native Americans have absolutely no problem with the name of the Washington Redskins. That has been proven by numerous polls, the latest of which was by the Univ. Of PA Annenberg Institute and found 91% support for the name. Those folks are not as stupid as Conoy makes out. They get it. This entire issue is a tempest in a teapot created by a few wacko activists.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 17, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

By the way, I love these carpetbagging columnists who come here from elsewhere and tell us what our team should and shouldn't be named.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Change the name to "soldiers"....use a cammo and military theme...Honor the military and veterans...become truly "America's team"...Make it Fort FedEX...make Snyder Washington's only Commander in chief for life..."Hail to the soldiers will work just as well...Bury the Redskins name with full military honors...Why...because if you do it right...you will outsell everyone and everything in the NFL...

Posted by: jwburrows112 | November 17, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

If the term Redskins were used by team owners and fans to imply any negative connotations, Rodriguez would have a point. But, in fact, Redskins fans seem to be proud to call themselves Redskins. For them, the association with the team and its name is clearly positive. Last I heard, they were shouting "Hail to the Redskins!" What's not to like about that?

But surely there are better names. How about them Dreadskins, aren't they awful?

If we really wanted a derogatory term, I could not think of a better one than the Washington Conmen, in honor of our only native criminal class (as Mark Twain called them), i.e., the members of Congress. I'd vote for that any day, and twice on Sunday.

Posted by: carldahlman | November 17, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

People need to get thicker skins. There is no contitutional right not to be offended. Why this went to the supreme court is beyond me.

Posted by: Pilot1 | November 17, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"Conoy has proven to be a blowhard but he can't dispute that Native Americans have absolutely no problem with the name of the Washington Redskins. That has been proven by numerous polls, the latest of which was by the Univ. Of PA Annenberg Institute and found 91% support for the name."

It's interesting that none of these polls indicate exactly how Native people were identified. I'm willing to bet that at least half of the respondents are people identifying as Indian via a single long-ago Cherokee/Iroquois/Flavorofthemonth, and who live their day to day lives as Black or White.

I wonder if SI and UPA bothered to check if those non-rez Indians are actually on a tribal roll, or just let any random Black/White dude with a Cherokee great great grandmother identify as Indian.

If you can pass for Black or White, and do so on a daily basis, the name's not going to mean as much to you.

If you live on a rez and have few interactions with non-Indians, the name's not going to mean as much to you (though you'll notice in the polls, rez Indians had a much bigger problem with the name that non-rez Indians)

I'd like to see a poll done of Native people living off the rez and enrolled in a tribe. This would eliminate legions of people posing as Indians just long enough to comment on the Redskins issue (like a couple on this board), and those on the rez who don't have to live with White and Black people mocking them every damn day.

My tribe, based in Maryland with a population of nearly 2,000, disapproves of the name by 97%.

Each of the recognized tribes in Virginia have issued statements condemning the name.

Nearly every Indian organization in the D.C. area, including AIS, NAP, and BAIC vehemently oppose the name.

But I guess as long as any idiot with no stake in the Indian community can claim to be Indian whenever it's convenient, poll after poll will quash the Indians that actually have to live the results of this B.S.

There is some justice, though; you got Dan Snyder. Here's a toast to his health, a long life, and an unending tide of miserable, disappointing seasons for you all.

Wanishi, and let's go Ravens!

Posted by: Conoy | November 17, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Rodriguez:
“a case in which Native Americans challenged a trademark on the Redskins name, “
-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-..-.-.-..--.-.-

Native American is a very general term. Did a particular tribe bring suit? Or was it an individual arrogantly claiming to speak for “all” Native American? Or maybe it was a Ward Churchill type fabricating a phony genealogy to shake down guilt-ridden honkys?

Posted by: dcn1 | November 17, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

For those who think is derogatory without meaning, lets try these:
Washington Idiots
Washington Slaves
Washington $ for killing us
the above mentioned Washington Spics

Why would a team choose those. I understand and support a renaming (not to Braves - come on) but the name was chosen at a different time to convey strength and straight-forwardness that we can still be taught more that one lesson from those that lived here before the continent was "discovered".

Personally, I would love to see the Redksins organization actively engaging the native American community, like the Seminoles in Florida are engaged with one another. The positions seem too entrenched, though. Perhaps they need to come to an agreement with the last of the Mohicans?

Posted by: jochen | November 18, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

I came across this site by accident, and was amazed at the vituperation of its writers. Why do Americans so readily take offence? I am British, specifically English. People, including Americans, say all sorts of things about us, but I simply treat them with disdain. If people do not like the colour of my hair (grey), my clothes (traditional), my accent (labelled 'posh' by a young black lad)or my opinions (conventional and Christian)and say so there is no point in my being offended. If I disagree, I will attempt to argue my case, but why get upset about it? Nothing is gained by that.
By the way, what is a 'Spic'? I don't understand all the American language

Posted by: peterlh | November 18, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

This is a complete waste of time! The name that has to go is Minnesota Vikings! As a person of Norwegian decent, the country that gave Obama a Nobel, I am mortified that we should be forever castigated as the descendants of a bunch of hard drinking barbarians that sailed around in unsafe ships, wore helmets with horns on them, and raped and pillaged wherever we went! What kind of an example is that for our kids?

Posted by: pondering | November 18, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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