“Redskins”not welcomed at publication, the world should do the same
If you were to call a man in New England a Patriot, he would greet you warmly and thank you.
If you were to call a man in Dallas a Cowboy, he would likely give you his hat.
If you were to call a Native American a “Redskin,” you would likely be punched in the face, deservedly so.
There is one difference between the name of Washington’s National Football League franchise and its 31 other franchises; it stands as the only one labeled in Webster’s dictionary as “offensive.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recognized this difference and cancelled 12 of the organization’s trademark protections noting that, “they were disparaging to Native Americans.”
It is in the name of common decency, sense, and respect for Native Americans that the name of the Washington “Redskins” must be changed.
Fortunately, I am far from the only editor with the common sense to ban the word from print. The student editors of the Neshaminy High School Newspaper “The Playwickian” in Langhorne, Pa. resumed their ban on the word in December. However, because the Neshaminy School Board and administration either does not understand or willfully disregards the First Amendment, the editor in chief of the paper, Gillian McGoldrick, was suspended from the paper for the month of September and the advisor Tara Huber was suspended for two days for, according to an e-mail to the Pennsylvania School Press Association that was obtained by The Philadelphia Enquirer, “willful neglect and insubordination” for supporting the ban.
The team’s official stance on the name has been that in 1933, owner George Preston Marshall, a legendary racist that made the Washington team the last in the NFL to integrate only when the Kennedy administration forced his hand, named his team the “Redskins” in order to honor their coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz who claimed to be of Ogala Soiux heritage.
If we were to accept Washington owner Dan Snyder’s story, seeing as that is all that it is, as truth, the Washington football team would be honoring a liar.
Dietz was born, not on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, but in Rice Lake, Wis. to two German parents. Dietz then proceeded to flaunt his Native American facade wherever he went including throughout a successful stint as coach of the Washington State University football program, which included a 14-0 shutout of Brown University in the 1916 Rose Bowl Game.
His ruse was successful until World War One began and Dietz filed for a draft exception. After an investigation by the predecessor to the FBI that found a, “certain secret which would be humiliating to the whole family if disclosed,” Dietz plead no contest to filing a false declaration in his application.
However, the fitness of Dietz for honor is rendered moot by an Associated Press report printed in the “Hartford Currant” on July 6, 1933, that quotes Marshall as saying, “The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins.”
I present to any defenders of the “Redskins” name, the words of the man who chose the offensive remark and they say unto you “you are lying.”
Not only that, but the base argument of “we are honoring Native Americans,” in using the name “Redskins” flies in the face of the dictionary defined offense and the logic that supports it was so thoroughly eviscerated by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in the South Park season premier “Go Fund Yourself,” that it’s use should, in a just world, disqualify the speaker from commenting on the issue in perpetuity.
And to believe that Marshall, a man who needed strong-arming by the federal government to allow African Americans on his team, would honor a non-white draft dodger means that, to borrow from Kieth Olbermann, you are, “easily lead, delusional, rationalizing and stupid.”
I understand that this paper will likely never have cause to print the term “Redskin” and that I am but a small voice in the sea of public clamoring for the name to change.
However, symbolism, even in small doses, matters. The refusal of the Washington Post editorial board to use the name proves it. The courage of “The Playwickian” newspaper staff, proves it. The $214 million that Forbes reports the “Redskins” brand proves it.
And so, after the conclusion of this article, so long as this sports page is under my editorship, the word “Redskin” will no longer have a home here.