Hail to the Redskins
Newberry College, under unfair pressure from the NCAA, changed its athletic teams’ nickname from the Indians to the Wolves in 2010.
So if “Indians” was out of bounds for a small Lutheran college in the South Carolina Midlands, why is the National Football League team in our nation’s capital still called the “Redskins” — and the Atlantic Coast Conference team in the Sunshine State’s capital still called the “Seminoles”?
President Barack Obama, taking a recent break from likening Republican lawmakers to “hostage takers,” expressed “Washington Redskins” concerns of his own.
In an Associated Press interview, the president said: “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that the name of my team, even if they’ve had a storied history, ... was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
Mr. Obama added that “all these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it.”
And during NBC’s telecast of the hapless Redskins’ 31-16 loss at Dallas on Sunday night, host Bob Costas decried the visiting team’s nickname as “an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.”
But Lanny Davis, attorney for the Washington Redskins and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, had previously pointed out in a statement responding to the president’s remarks:
“As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the president is not aware that in the highly respected Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.’ The president made these comments to The Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that eight out of ten of all Americans in a national sample don’t think the Washington Redskins name should be changed.”
Mr. Davis continued: “Like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s hometown), we love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group.”
Neither, of course, did the good folks at Newberry College.
And as Mr. Davis put it last week: “President Obama has better things to worry about.”