For Slate mum's the word (when it comes to the Washington Redskins)

For Slate mum's the word (when it comes to the Washington Redskins)

Washington Redskins logo

I can’t say how the liberal blog Slate refers to the artist formerly known as Prince, but I can say how the blog refers to the team currently known as the Washington Redskins. It doesn’t. At least it won’t any longer.

According to a lengthy apologia by its editor, David Plotz, the publication will henceforth eschew the racist team name, which Slate considers pejorative. Plotz writes:

Indian activists and others have been asking, urging, and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and an insult to Indians. They have collected historical and cultural examples of the use of redskin as a pejorative and twice sued to void the Redskins trademark.

The term Indian activists is pretty nebulous, since one could argue that Plotz by the position he adopts could be described as an “Indian activist” and others (it goes without saying is even more nebulous).

More importantly, the claim appears to be false, at least if a counterclaim by Paul Woody of the Richmond Times-Dispatch is truthful. Woody does have specificity on his side. For his May 17 story on the brouhaha, he spoke with several actual American Indian tribal chiefs in Virginia, where the Redskins’ practice facility is located. Robert Green, chief of the Patawomeck Tribe of Virginia, told Woody:

It doesn’t bother me. About 98 percent of my tribe is Redskins fans, and it doesn’t offend them, either.

Kevin Brown, chief of the Pamunkey Tribe of Virginia, claimed also to root for the Redskins, adding

I don’t think there’s any intention for (the nickname) to be derogatory. The majority of the people in my tribe don’t have a problem with it. There are a few who do, and we respect their feelings.

Brown also professed to liking the uniforms and the team logo.

G. Anne Richardson, chief of Virginia’s Rappahannock Tribe, had to stifle a laugh when asked about her feelings with respect to the Redskins’ nickname:

I don’t have an issue with it. There are so many more issues that are important for the tribe than to waste time on what a team is called. We’re worried about real things, and I don’t consider that a real thing.

We’re more worried about our kids being educated, our people housed, elder care and the survival of our culture. We’ve been in that survival mode for 400 years. We’re not worried about how some ball team is named.

Hmm. There are some words for David Plotz top onder: Real Indians care about real issues — not the ones invented by “Indian activists and others,” who have nothing better to do with their time.

One thing Plotz says that’s true is that Redskins has remained the team name “because the choice of the team’s name belongs to one person, Washington [Redskins] owner Daniel Snyder.” Plotz also harrumphs that Snyder “has brushed off the controversy with arm waves” — which is perfectly within his rights as owner to do. It is his business … and it is none of Slate’s or Plotz’s.

Plotz closes by offering an alternative team name, the Griffins, which he advises “would allow the team to keep the feathers and the ferocity.” It sounds like a dumb idea to me, but as long as we’re considering the change, I’ll play along and offer an initial mock-up of a possible logo:


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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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