The Real Offense Is in the Name

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 21, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Real Offense Is in the Name


Byline: Dick Heller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

For better or worse now, the Redskins will always be the Redskins.

The Supreme Court's decision this week not to review a 1992 legal challenge to the team's nickname by native American activists means they and we are stuck with a moniker that some see as offensive.

For most of five decades as a Redskins watcher, I never found the term demeaning. But then again, I'm not a Native American. And if enough descendants of our nation's original settlers considered it so, there's no question that the term should have been sacked years ago - just like Jason Campbell every Sunday.

Tradition should mean nothing in this case. Heck, legal segregation once was a tradition in the District and much of the country, too. Nations and citizens are supposed to learn and grow, hopefully toward a kinder and gentler attitude toward those of a dissimilar racial, religious or political persuasion.

Even if that rationale hasn't applied lately on the political scene, we still should embrace those who are different from us. The United States has had a dubious history when it comes to equal rights, but there's no reason it should be reflected in the games people play.

Dan Snyder should follow the example set by a much older and wiser sports mogul in these parts. When Abe Pollin changed the name of his basketball club from Bullets to Wizards a decade or so ago, he was demonstrating an awareness that a team's nickname often reflects credit or discredit to the city it represents. At a time when the District was known to much of the country as the Murder Capital of the World, Pollin was refusing to keep a name that evoked crime, blood and death.

Did you spend much time mourning the loss of this traditional nickname? Neither did I.

Now it's time for Snyder to emerge from his in-season shell and announce that starting in 2010, his football club will change its name to the..

Whatevers

Of course, Danny Boy won't do that. It might cause a drop in merchandise sales, provided anybody is still buying burgundy and gold jerseys, caps or jackets in this sorriest of seasons. …

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