The term “Redskins” is defined as “usually offensive” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but it goes without saying that it is not, by any means, considered a derogatory phrase by any Redskins football team fan, and certainly not by the Redskins’ ownership. The team, the fans, and the city of Washington have always been proud of their team and proud of the name. But if you look hard enough or long enough, you can always find something bad in just about anything, and that seems to have become the by-word for the once put-upon races in America.
I’ll tell you flat out I carry great respect for the heritage of the American Indian, and a good deal of shame for what this country did to them. Of all the races that have been unfairly treated and displaced in this country, the American Indian has as much ground for embitterment as any of the others. Yet due to the thorough decimation of their cultures, and the possession of an inherent pride, they have found the least latitude in complaint. But the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson intellect has found its way to the forefront in the Redskins team name issue, and the smell of money has now imbued indignation to a whole new level. And once again it was Mr. Obama (who never lets a good crisis go to waste), who stirred the ant’s nest by sticking his opinion into a place where it doesn’t belong, and finding yet another way to separate the people of this nation.
To me this whole thing looks more like a Sharpton/Jackson shakedown than a genuine effrontery. This issue could easily become a dominoes effect – what about the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Cleveland Indians? There are already clinical psychologists (paid for their opinion) like Dr. Michael Friedman, who has studied “the effects of stigma and discrimination,” and has announced that “words like ‘redskin’ weigh heavily on the mental health of a community already hit hard by poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence.” He fails to mention that, today, American Indians are one of the most handsomely paid segments of minorities in America, from the myriad welfare benefits available, to percentages of casino profits. And I’m absolutely certain there is a large majority of proud American Indians that find this race pandering nothing short of embarrassing.
Regardless of who’s right and who’s racist, this name change thing puts hundreds of millions of dollars at risk for the Redskins, and the owner, Dan Snyder. Marketing experts say ticket sales and merchandising could easily suffer. However, no action at all may prove every bit as costly if attention to this current name game continues to escalate.
An associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University, Ronald Goodstein, has placed the overall value of the Redskins franchise at near $2 billion, and it is recognized as one of the top franchises in the world. It would be an uphill struggle for the Redskins to recreate the energy and devotion among fans with a new team name – all this for a word that hasn’t been commonly used on the street for nearly a century.
The fabric of America is slowly rendering as we continue to find more reasons to dissect and compartmentalize this nation. There are whole bevies of ordinary words in the English language that have been decreed as ethnically offensive and are now simply “socially illegal.” We continually find ourselves censoring and reconstructing into more acceptable euphemisms words that weren’t really offensive to begin with. We’ve taken God out of schools and prayer out of sports competitions and Christ out of Christmas so as to not affront the sensibilities of a few, and all that offends me. Once you set this kind of mindset in motion and give it license, there’s no determining how far it will go. We should be looking to the future together, rather than arguing with each other over the past.
Michael Reisig has been writing professionally for 15 years. He is an award-winning newspaper columnist and a best-selling novelist. Be sure to check out Reisig’s “The Road To Key West” novel series. High adventure and humor as Kansas Stamps and Will Bell cavort through the Caribbean, from Key West and Cuba to Central and South America.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com