Hnn | HNN Articles

Dropping the Ball On Respect: Why the Washington Redskins Should Change Its Name

 

Many Americans are preparing this Thanksgiving for food and football—and the movement to change the name of Washington DC’s football team is making national news. Matthew Bulger argues why it’s time to make a change.


Thanksgiving is fast approaching, which means that many Americans are stocking up on delicious food and preparing their living rooms for the traditional football game that takes place on the holiday after everyone has eaten themselves into a food coma. As someone who grew up playing football in Texas, albeit badly, Thanksgiving is truly a great time to be with family and watch one of my favorite sports.

Unfortunately, there is currently a stain on American football that fans like myself just can’t ignore and which lessens the enjoyment we get from watching the sport. I’m referring of course to the controversy surrounding the offensively-named Washington Redskins, a team I’ve not exactly rooted for in the past as a Dallas Cowboys fan.

The term “redskin” is a racial descriptor of for Native Americans, which according to Merriam Webster is a derogatory term that is perceived as “usually offensive”. The term is certainly seen as offensive by members of the Oneida Indian Nation, which is one of the groups that have petitioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change the name. Unfortunately, the name doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon, partly because the owner doesn’t want to mess with the legacy of his team and partly out of what I believe is a general lack of respect for the terms that marginalized communities wish to be identified with.

While I generally find Charles Krauthammer, who serves as a contributor for Fox News and also writes for conservative publications, to be a distasteful man with outdated ideas, his recent comments regarding the issue have been some of the most relevant and intelligent remarks to date. In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Krauthammer states that while he doesn’t “like the language police ensuring that no one anywhere gives offense to anyone about anything” he believes that the word shouldn’t be used because he “wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people — living or dead, offended or not — in a most demeaning way. It’s a question not of who or how many had their feelings hurt, but of whether you want to associate yourself with a word that, for whatever historical reason having nothing to do with you, carries inherently derogatory connotations.”

While I might go a bit further than Krauthammer and state that words shouldn’t be used if marginalized communities find them to be offensive, his basic premise of not degrading oneself by using needlessly demeaning language best sums up why the Washington Redskins should change their name. By using the term “redskin” they are not only offending a community that has been brutally oppressed and manipulated for centuries, they are also degrading the integrity and stature of their prestigious organization.

While I would stop short of supporting government intrusion into the affairs of a private business that resulted in a name change of the organization, I do firmly believe that the NFL and the Washington Redskins organization have a responsibility to their fans and native communities to run a business that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination. Hopefully reason will prevail on those who have the power to change the name, but if the name remains unchanged football fans have a responsibility to stop supporting the organization until it comes into the 21st century and learns to respect others.


Matthew Bulger, Legislative AssocociateMatthew Bulger is the legislative associate for the American Humanist Association.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association expresses shock and sorrow over another atheis...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you ever feel pressured to participate in religious practices simply because...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Did Jesus have long hair? Nah. Was he nailed to a cross? Most likely not. The b...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Check out the latest trends in Religious Restrictions and Hostilities from the P...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well, this is cool! What if US dollar notes were redesigned to honor science, ra...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Another great step for humanism! Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard, has...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

A few days ago, the AHA sent letters to newly elected members of Congress, askin...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

According to Larry King, "I don't believe that I'm going anywhere. I'm not relig...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Merrill Miller reviews the new documentary "She's Beautiful When She's Ang...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Time for another humanist question. Why do humanists/atheists still spell god wi...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association has sent letters to newly elected members of C...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Would you go to Mars knowing you would not return?

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

BREAKING NEWS!! ATHEIST comedian is running for California state senate!!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Last week AHA's Roy Speckhardt and Maggie Ardiente were invited to attend the sw...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Pledge Boycott is going strong, as more and more kids and families are sit...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's David Niose was on the Alan Colmes radio show last night discussing the "u...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

It appears that the AHA is now considered one of the top five dangerous enemies...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have humanist questions? Ask a humanist! The link below will take you to the one...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association has been nominated by the Reddit community to...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

When pastor Ryan Bell decided to spend a year as an atheist, he had no idea how...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Legal Director David Niose will be on the Alan Colmes Show (Fox News Radio)...

8 days ago