What the Redskins Controversy Is Really About

nflLast week the controversy over the NFL Washington Redskins’ name, deemed offensive by the professionally aggrieved, reached a new peak when the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademark registrations owned by the team.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who had previously blustered impotently that he wouldn’t accept an invitation to attend a Redskins home game until the team changed its name (a threat which no doubt sent waves of panic through the Redskins organization), gloated that the ruling proved “the handwriting is on the wall.” “It’s only a matter of time,” he tweeted, “until [Redskins owner] Daniel Snyder is forced to do the right thing and change the name.”

Forced to do the right thing. And there you have the totalitarian pr0gressive mindset in a nutshell: if people don’t do the “right thing” – by which the left means, of course, conform to their social justice agenda – then they must be coerced by any means necessary.

The 2-1 decision by the Board does not mean that the team must stop using the name, but Robert Tracinski at The Federalist notes that the cancellation sets a “terrifying” precedent: “This ruling happened precisely because the campaign against the Redskins has failed in the court of public opinion… So the left resorted to one of its favorite fallbacks. If the people can’t be persuaded, use the bureaucracy”:

In this case, executive officials declared that a private company doesn’t deserve the protection of the law: if the ruling survives an appeal in the courts, the federal government will stop prosecuting violations of the team’s intellectual property rights, potentially costing it millions of dollars…

[B]ureaucrats in Washington are now empowered to make subjective decrees about what is offensive and what will be tolerated, based on pressure from a small clique of Washington insiders. Anyone who runs afoul of these decrees, anyone branded as regressive and politically incorrect, is declared outside the protection of the federal government.

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata, who call the Redskins name a “hateful slur,” hope that the patent ruling will “imperil the ability of the team’s billionaire owner to keep profiting off the denigration and dehumanization of Native Americans.”

This is a ridiculous claim, since Snyder is profiting not from dehumanizing Native Americans but from the American love of football. But what Halbritter and Pata are trying to do in their statement is smear Snyder as a “billionaire” which, in these times of anti-wealth bigotry, is as despised a label as “racist.” Among the Occupy movement left, it is code for “rapacious one-percenter who didn’t build that,” as multi-millionaire Elizabeth Warren might put it.

Barack Obama, who has a habit of injecting his personal opinion on topics that should be far beneath presidential concern, naturally spoke out in favor of jettisoning the team’s name, which offends “a sizable group of people,” he said, who have “real legitimate concerns.”

Not that sizeable. Ten years ago a poll of American Indians found that 90% of Indians polled in 48 states found the name inoffensive. In a January 2014 poll, a broad majority of adults (83%) responded that the Washington Redskins should not change their nickname. Among football fans, that majority was even higher: 87%.

The Redskins have been in existence since 1933 (although not always in Washington, D.C.). Ever since then probably no one has used the word “redskins” to refer to anything other than that team. Indeed, David Plotz at the radical Slate admitted that the word has a “relatively innocent” history, that Native Americans themselves used the word as a descriptor and not an insult. He also conceded that the team name was chosen to honor Native American bravery. Another writer at Slate traced the word’s history and found it largely benign.

“But time passes,” Plotz wrote. “Americans think differently about race and the language of race than we did 80 years ago.” And so Slate proudly announced that they simply would not use the word anymore (Mother Jones and The New Republic followed suit). “Changing the way we talk is not political correctness run amok,” wrote Plotz. True, changing the way we talk is not PC “run amok.” It is the very intent of political correctness to manipulate language and thought to conform to the progressive agenda.

Let’s be real. The rancorous debate over the Redskins name has nothing to do with assuaging the hurt feelings of Obama’s “sizeable group of people.” It is about the expansion of government control. Progressives like Harry Reid don’t truly care about Native American sensibilities any more than they care about health care for the uninsured. Both issues – all issues for progressives – are about acquiring and expanding power.

In short, the contemporary obsession with “being offended” is never truly about “being offended.” Claiming offense is a strategy of identity politics whereby a minority faction plays the victim card to further a broader agenda. “The issue is never the issue,” as Saul Alinsky used to state. “The issue is always the revolution.”

The Daily Caller, for example, listed twelve trademarks that the United States Patent and Trademark Office apparently finds less worthy of addressing than “Redskins.” Those trademarks include, among others, such brands as Uppity Negro, Dago Swag, Kraut Krap, and Figgas Over Niggas. The hypocrisy is blatant and almost hilarious. But the Washington Redskins make a more useful and visible political target.

If President Obama and his cohorts are eagerly searching to punish organizations with offensive names, perhaps they could turn their selective attention to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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  • Naresh Krishnamoorti

    Or United Negro College Fund.

  • 4arepublic

    The National Congress of American Indians list of “Foundation Partners” includes the Soros funded Open Society Foundation. How progressive.

    http://www.ncai.org/about-ncai/our-supporters

  • Neo

    The best possible rename for the Redskins is ..

    The Washington Deficitis

    …. because in Washington, everybody loves a deficit.

    The team logo would be … ( $ )

    • Richard

      I heard the name “Washington Tyrants” thats more representative of that area.

    • windy132

      That would be (-$). Nifty new logo.

      • SFLBIB

        In accounting, the () indicates a negative.

    • Habbgun

      I like the Washington Riggins….not after John Riggins after all he didn’t rush for that….
      It’ll be fore riggin’ elections, riggin’ contracts, riggin’ kids test scores……. riggin’ whatever politicians need to rig….

    • truebearing

      How about the Washington Red Inks?

  • notme123

    I see nothing hateful in the name. I would think they would be honored to have a football team named after them. Football is the favorite sport in the US and fans admire and look up to their teams. Just another distraction from the really important issues that need addressing.

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  • johnlac

    So if instead of Redskins the nickname had been Palefaces, would the current outraged pols be as upset? Probably not. Well….let me rethink that. They’d probably be outraged that a pro team had used a moniker of the oppressors of minorities as a nickname. In short, they’d be outraged anyway.

    • CowboyUp

      You thought that through to the logical conclusion, just look at the disappearing “Rebels” mascots in the South.

  • Loupdegarre

    Ok, here’s a little history lesson. Redskin does not refer to a racial slur by white people against Indians. It’s what the Beothuk Indian Tribe of northern Maine and Nova Scotia called white men. When the Beothuk first encountered white fur traders they were amazed that when white men got angry their faces turned bright crimson. The Beothuk thought this looked pretty cool and began using red ochre to paint their faces red before going into battle as a way to psyche the enemy. So if the Beothuk had their “Redskin” on you knew they were ready for battle. The whole liberal PC idea of the term Redskin being offensive probably came from them watching some 30’s B western on TV as a kid where some second rate studio screenwriter used the term after reading it in a turn of the century Dime Novel written by some New York journalist who’d never been further west than Hoboken. But then that’s how liberals think, “If I saw it on TV, it must be true”.

    • CowboyUp

      More recently the grievance crowd did something similar with the word “cracker.” It went from being a cracker box story teller, to whip cracking overseer.

  • Hard Little Machine

    I went to the store the other day and noted that on the shelf with the cigarettes there was a packet of Red Man Tobacco. I suppose they and the other dozens and scores of companies that use a similar image are also stripped of their trademark? Because I didn’t hear that they were.

    • Habbgun

      No….but maybe a few campaign checks had to be mailed out…..or an IRS audit ordered.

  • Randy CA

    Change the name to The Washington Leaches.

  • nimbii

    Sports is the final refuge for fans because skill, talent and luck are supposed to determine the outcome of an event.

    The government wants the world to know that nothing is beyond it’s reach…even sports.

  • Zundfolge

    “[W]e prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn’t work we use the persuasion of power.”
    -Andy Stern – Former President of SEIU

  • Namvet AF

    I read on another blog that since this is about skin color, there are 4 basic colors; red, yellow, black and white. Why not rename the team, “The 4-Skins”. That ought to do it.

  • Gee

    So is the Patent Office going to cancel the trademark for Cracker Jacks? Bet white people might find offense with that.

  • Docs357

    It’s an American sport it’s a beloved that our must POTUS doesn’t want Americans happy he lies to make sure were not . Disrupts any thing American

  • james connolly

    Once again, the THOUGHT POLICE have exerted TYRANNY, making a big ado over absolutely NOTHING! Thou shalt not do anything that in fantasy “could” “offend” anyone. It is the DICTATOR government’s role to protect everybody’s “feelings” from ever being aggrieved . How DARE anyone “offend” you. We’ll protect you from LIFE. Your tax dollars at work.

  • Jonny Gee

    Rename them the Washington Foreskins as a reminder of the pr*cks in Washington.

    • CaoMoo

      or the Harry Reid Butt ****ers. something personally hateful.

  • zoomie

    citizen or subject ?

  • AvJoe

    Did Mr. Synder make any political donations to Harry Reid?

  • El Cid

    Hah. I like the last line: VERY funny. If you called someone a “colored person” today, he’d have the right to smack you in the back of the head.

    Of course, the Redskins is NOT a team run by native Americans.

    Somewhere there’s a point here. Somewhere….

    • PAthena

      The term “colored” was the official term where there was racial segregation, before the laws of racial segregation were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1954, in the Brown v. the Board of Education. I grew up in Washington, D.C. when there was racial segregation in the schools, and the schools were designated as “white” and “colored.” (Of course, everyone has a color and no one is white. Human beings are all various shades of brown.

      • J.B.

        Now the term “colored people” is supposed to be offensive but “people of color” isn’t. Political correctness is idiotic.

  • SFLBIB

    How did we get here?

    With the introduction of politically correct victimhood as a vocation, whole new horizons were opened up. Ordinary complaining became an academic endeavor. Among the early candidates for the trash bin was truth itself. Yes, victimhood is where it’s at. If there aren’t enough real ones, some new ones will have to be invented. They will never be satisfied. If liberals can win enough of these “skin” games, eventually they will be demanding reparations for slavery.

  • drofmanythings

    DC loves the Redskins, Harry. It’s like poking the city in the eye…and they are 90% Democrats! Ouch…

  • Hank Rearden

    And when all traces of Indians as a noble warrior race are extinguished from the culture, things will be…better?

    The obvious name for the team is the Washington Bureaucrats. Whatever happens, they win. The logo would be a picture of Lois Lerner.

  • randy harrison

    Democrats think that people are helpless to fend or even speak for themselves. They must be the protectors of those too weak and timid.
    It is they that determine what is right or wrong, what can be said and what cannot.
    Their egos must be fed with self satisfaction. Not that it actually helps anyone, it is that they are perceived as the saviors.

  • PAthena

    Calling an athletic team “Redskins” is a compliment to American Indians, as is the name “:Cleveland Braves.” Vikings are not being insulted when an athletic team is called the “Minnesota Vikings.”
    The self-appointed police of language should be ignored. The object to calling
    American Indians “Indians” because Columbus made a mistake when he discovered America and had not found India. Should the name “West Indies” be changed? Note that you will not find American Indians in India. Calling American Indians “Native Americans” is ridiculous, since anyone born in America – as I was – is a Native American.
    A similar piece of idiocy is calling Eskimos “Inuit,” because in the Eskimo language (or one subgroup) the term is “Inuit.” But this is silly: Germans when speaking German call themselves “deutche,” their language “deutch,” and their country “Deutschland.” Greeks in the Greek language call themselves “Hellene<' the language "Hellenica," and the country "Hellene."

    • Ohoyo

      How do you know that the term “Redskins” is a compliment to American Indians? I think if it is offensive to SOME of the Native Americans, it should not be used. I hear that at Christmas, “Merry Christmas” isn’t used at some businesses because it might be offensive to different groups of immigrants even though it has been a custom here in our country for a long, long time. Not ALL of the different groups of immigrants are here. However, it seems that our country is changing for just those immigrants that are here and not for us that have celebrated this for a long time. But that’s another story. So even if it is not ALL of the Native Americans that are offended, it shouldn’t be used. Now I think the name “Cleveland Braves” would be acceptable. There is a difference in these two names. It’s no wonder that the “Minnesota Vikings” are not insulted when they are called “Minnesota Vikings”. They are not called “Minnesota Viking Skins. As far back as history records, my ancestors were the natives of this country. I think my race can rightfully be called Native Americans, if they so choose, and I don’t think this is ridiculous.

      • J.B.

        Why should a whiny minority be allowed to force its will on the majority? And Indians are not native to America. They came here from Asia. Besides, do you use terms like native Mexican, native Guatemalan, etc? And what about Oklahoma? It means land of the redskins.

  • herb benty

    Do “Pirates” have to go? Patriots? Vikings? Do I have to quit humming, “Red and Yellow Black and White. all are precious in HIS sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world”. ??? According to the book of Daniel in the Bible, the Anti-Christ seeks to change…..everything. Times, seasons, traditions, anything good.

  • Hurley22

    I think it would be better to drop the “Washington” portion of the name!!

  • John Morgan

    They should be renamed the Washington Hogs. The name reflects the finest tradition of the team–the excellent offensive line of the Joe Gibbs era. It also reflects Washington’s main industry–pork.

  • Arthur Hall

    IF the Redskins are forced to change their name, where does it stop? Will we, (as a society) force everyone to conform to the liberal hippie we can’t offended anyone ideology?

    We all get offended from time to time, it happens it’s part of life. Do we really need to cry like a bunch of babies every time the littlest thing offends us?

    And as far as the Redskins name being offensive, I used to work as an EMT on a reservation, so I have spent a lot of time around indians. If they want to be offended, they need to look to their own behavior!

    My crew and I were called many racist names, we were punched and threatened numerous times. All this was done to us by indians with names like Kills-Whiteman. Now personally, being a white male THAT name seems a bit more offensive than a professional football team!!!

  • RedskinFan

    The shoe is on the other foot buddy… Your own heavily-biased political slant (and deep anger) runs plainly & abundantly through this entire article. 1- I love how you conveniently turn to polls from TEN YEARS ago to make your “point.” 2- No sane person (with an IQ over 100) would claim that it’s “good” for an ethnic group to be referred to as “a Redskin.” 3- In this particular case, it isn’t just “a word” that’s at stake… The NFL is a GLOBAL MARKETING JUGGERNAUT and is deeply imbedded into our culture and rapidly circling the globe as we speak. 4- It’s not just coming from “some football team”….it’s coming from the most popular sports team in our NATION’S CAPITOL. 5 – The Government is for ALL THE PEOPLE of American, not just the owners of a Trademark. 6- Assholes like you simply hate to lose. Admit it, you know it’s true. (why else would you write such an angry rambling rant?) Ps…I’m a fan of the TEAM and the sport…but NOT the name. It’s a slur. Period.