Over the summer, those two legendary sources of sports coverage, Salon Magazine and MSNBC, or as they are known in some places the S Word and the M Word, announced that they would begin referring to the Redskins football team as the R Word.
Ordinarily liberals would not be too eager to call a team with 40 black players, a black quarterback and a passionate black fan base a hyphenated euphemism. But worried liberals were reassured when Barack Obama, or the B.O. Word, endorsed a name change for the Redskins.
The affinity that black D.C. residents have for the Redskins, a team that white D.C. liberals feel they should despise, has long been a sore spot. Every story about the Redskins begins with the team’s segregationist past even though it has as much to do with the current issue as Harry Truman saying, “I think one man is just as good as another so long as he’s not an N Word.”
If the Democratic Party was covered the way the Redskins are, every story would begin by wondering at how, despite a really bad start of supporting slavery and segregation, African-Americans came around to the Democratic Party. And that would be fair because even in their worst season, the Redskins have killed fewer people than the Democratic Party.
Political correctness though doesn’t practice consistency. Like most liberal activism, it’s about class and power.
If Redskins fans were poor whites, they could be hit directly. But a mostly black team with a large black fan base can only be attacked indirectly with a manufactured controversy about their name.
The latest wave of pressure is being headed up by Ray Halbritter, CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, who has the virtue, unlike Rachel Maddow and 99 percent of the skinny pale liberals wearing retro glasses who write about this, of actually being Native American. (Or least 1/4 Native American considering that’s the blood quantum standard in the Oneida Nation, the small tribe, not the company, whose employees are mostly of the tribe of New Yorkers.)
The more local chiefs of the Patawomeck and Pamunkey in Virginia who said they weren’t offended were ignored. Robert Green, the former chief of the Patawomeck, said that he was a Redskins fan and would be offended if the team did change its name. Then he added that the Redskins name came from the Indians and that the country had become too politically correct.
The Harvard educated Halbritter is much more politically savvy than Green. Despite being removed from his position by the Grand Council of Chiefs, he was backed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and allegedly hired a tribal police force of non-Indians to suppress his Oneida critics.
Halbritter knows that what liberals really want is a minority to shout “Racist!” at appropriate targets and that campaigning against racism will gain him more political influence than telling irritated white liberals in retro glasses that their class-based obsession with the Redskins is a silly waste of everyone’s time.
Like Toure or the innumerable minorities who show up on MSNBC to shout “Racism!” when the red light turns on, he understands that the best way to rise in the ranks of the white liberals in retro glasses is by being useful to them.
And there’s really only one use that liberals have for minorities.
What Robert Green understands though is that intent matters more than nomenclature. Words don’t have fixed meanings that persist throughout time. They change based on the way we use them.
It’s not about the word, but about the human heart.
A sportswriter demanded to know whether a name like the Washington Negroes or the Washington Heebs would have been tolerated and defended the way that the Washington Redskins are.
That is actually an issue in the United Kingdom.
Fans of the Tottenham Hotspur soccer team defy the police and the Football Association by chanting “Yid Army”. The Hotspurs once had a strong Jewish fanbase which responded to anti-Semitic taunts of “Yids, Yids” by calling itself the Yid Army. The now no-longer Jewish fans still call themselves the “Yid Army” and the players “Yiddos” for reasons of tradition– something Jews can certainly appreciate.
The Yid Army has run afoul of soccer’s efforts at stamping out racism, even though Yiddo, like Redskin, by now represents a different sort of tribal identity. A tribal identity built on team sports, rather than ethnicity or race. The latter, like urban identities, proliferate in multicultural societies where the number of actual Indians and Jews by blood is sharply diminished.
In one of the more surreal sports shouting matches, the Spurs fans shouted “Yid Army” in defiance of the ban while their rival West Ham supporters shouted, “Racists” at them. Somehow a game of soccer had turned into a paper on the more confusing aspects of multiculturalism.
Prime Minister Cameron, on a campaign to justify his political survival with strategic displays of common sense, said that, “There’s a difference between Spurs fans self-describing themselves as Yids and someone calling someone a Yid as an insult.”
There’s also a big difference between the Redskins team and calling someone a Redskin– which as a slur probably died out around the same time as Daniel Boone.
The refusal to look at what people mean, rather than what they say, has led to the criminalization of language and restrictions on speech with senseless results.
Near the turn of the century, the aide to the mayor of D.C. called a budget “niggardly” only to be fired because someone in the office assumed it was a racial slur and then rehired when the incident made the local government even more of a national laughingstock than usual.
Ridiculous incidents like these keep happening because liberal speech codes emphasize that it’s not what you mean; it’s whether it resembles something on the banned list.
The racism standard has moved away from motive to effect. Laws can be struck down as racist if it can be shown, not that they were discriminatory in intent, but in effect. It doesn’t matter what you do; only that someone was offended. And the only way to screen out the things that someone might possibly be offended by is by banning everything that could possibly be offensive.
Controlling language is about controlling people.
The white liberal sportswriters chasing after the Redskins have no interest in the problems of Native Americans. They care only about beating another phantom enemy that they created in order to give their politically correct crusades meaning.
They don’t care about what Ray Halbritter is doing to his own people. They are not interested in what people, including the black fans of the Redskins and the chiefs who like the Redskins, think; they are only interested in getting their way.
The Battle of the Redskins isn’t about racism. It’s about power.
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