Do Mascots Need Modernizing?

Dallas Cowboys  v Washington Redskins

Earlier this week, ten members of Congress sent a letter to the front office of the Washington Redskins, pushing them to select a new mascot:

In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs.  The usage of the “R-word” is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem.  It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to this important matter.

Their idea of a solution is a bill that would amend the 1946 Trademark Act to cancel any trademark that uses the term “redskin”. Pat Garofalo figures such federal intervention may be the only way the change will happen:

For precedent, it’s worth revisiting what led Washington’s football franchise to integrate. Then-owner George Preston Marshall was perfectly content to play up the team’s racist history, leaving it the last segregated squad in the league. He finally relented in 1962, not because of any change of heart, but after the John F. Kennedy administration threatened to refuse the team access to what is now called RFK Stadium, which was on federal land, unless it integrated.

Doug Mataconis disagrees with the liberal lawmakers’ strategy:

I have to wonder why this is something that Members of Congress need to be getting involved in, or why legislation is necessary to address something that is, in the end, a private business matter.

The people who don’t like the name are free to protest it. Dan Snyder and the rest of Redskins ownership are free to reject their pleas. If there ever comes a time when the public sympathizes with the protesters, then perhaps the team will feel the kind of economic pressure most likely to cause them to change positions, then we’ll likely see a name change of some kind.

Personally, I think the odds of that happening are pretty remote. The Redskins name has been in existence now since 1933 when the football version of the Boston Braves changed its name to Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C. several years later. We’re not that far away from the 100th anniversary of that name. It’s going to be around for a long time to come, and I’m just fine with that.

(Photo: Fans of the Washington Redskins cheer against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys 28-18. By Larry French/Getty Images)