A reader writes:
I have to agree with Doug Mataconis; why does Congress need to be involved here? Moreover, how many people upon hearing the word “Redskin” conjure up negative stereotypical images of Native Americans? I’d have to think maybe 1 out of 10 thinks of Native Americans instead of football players.
But where would this political correctness end? Are the Atlanta Braves next? What about the Florida State Seminoles? Does it matter that the Seminole Tribe of Florida wants the college to keep the mascot? Or how about this one: I went to the College of the Holy Cross and we are called “The Crusaders?” Any members of Congress calling for us to change our name given what went on during the Crusades?
Words have meaning, and over time those meanings change. Why can’t the stigma be removed from a word as society matures and learns to use words for purposes other than demeaning others?
Another has a very different perspective:
Being a Comanche and Caddo Indian from Oklahoma, I have much gratitude for the actions of Tom Cole and the other members of Congress. They are doing one of the most important duties our elected representatives have: being a voice for their constituents, even those who don’t wield much political or economic power.
Unfortunately, Doug Mataconis is right.
The Washington NFL team will never get rid of their mascot unless there is a monetary detriment to not doing so. Making money on the backs of a voiceless minority is prevalent and acceptable in American society. However, this IS something that Congress has the right and even moral imperative to pursue. The government has always placed monetary incentives and detriments to businesses so that they might more align with the pervading government philosophy. It may not have an effect in the short run, but it begins the “bending of the arc of history” that eventually can lead to real change. Mataconis’ allusion to this being a “private business matter” is the same argument private businesses used to not serve any black patrons. It’s a wrong-headed and antiquated, if not racist, school of thought.
Only an ultra-elite athlete taking a stand to not play for a team with a disparaging mascot would make any waves with these owners. I fantasized that Sam Bradford (1/16th Cherokee), who was the #1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, would publicly take a stand and speak out against the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Both those teams would mostly likely have chosen Bradford had they had the chance (they chose fourth and fifth in that draft, respectively). Until something like that happens, it’s up to our government to do the right thing.