Anyone who pays attention to the affairs of Native Americans – or American Indians, as they more often refer to themselves – cannot help but be aware of the numerous problems facing the various tribes, scattered across the United States and cannot but realize that making a fuss about something so trivial as the nickname of a football team, the Washington Redskins, is so utterly demeaning to these people.
Demeaning ethnic minorities, of course, is what is what the Democrat – hardly ‘democratic’ – Party does best. Since the days when they failed to preserve slavery and then, later, failed to stall civil rights legislation, Democrats have so demeaned the black community in this country that it now hangs upon their every word and enthusiastically votes for the ‘Democratic’ Party because most black Americans have been successfully convinced, by Liberals, that they are too poor, too uneducated and too stupid to fend for themselves.
At this moment, the Washington Redskins are wrapping up their week six game against the Arizona Cardinals and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is, of course, watching the game. Seated right next to him in the stadium is none other than Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation – and Mr. Shelly is wearing a Redskins cap.
For most Liberals, of course, this is a confusing picture, indeed. Isn’t it common knowledge that all American Indians are highly offended by the name ‘Washington Redskins?” In truth, that is absolutely not the case. The US Patent Office, which started the recent fuss over the team’s name – which dates back more than 80 years – had not actually received any complaints from individual Natives, regarding the nickname.
Any time spent around American Indians will reveal the issues that actually do offend them: Housing; education; interference from federal and state governments in their affairs. As this writer knows from personal experience; ask most Indians if they are offended by the name of the NFL team in question and they will smile and shake their heads. Probably, they are wondering why they were asked such a ridiculous question, at all. The truth is that, like every other ethnic group in the United States – including whites – American Indians have their fair share of problems with crime, drugs, unemployment and so on. Many of them may argue that, relative to their numbers, they have more than their fair share.
Writing for U-T San Diego in November of last year, Matt Calkins set out to discover for himself if the Redskins’ nickname was really offensive to Native Americans. He was prompted to do so after seeing a poll, conducted some years before, which asked 768 American Indians if they found the team’s name offensive. In that poll, conducted by the National Annenberg Election Survey, 90 percent of those who participated said…no. Calkins, who seems to have been determined to discover that Indians really were offended by the name, then went out and found 25 Native Americans, to whom he posed the same question. Calkins admits that 88 percent of those he asked said “no.” Obviously determined to ignore empirical evidence and continue to come up with a result that suited his own beliefs – rather like a global warming believer – he concluded, to quote from his article: “After three days on an Indian reservation, I can say this with conviction: The push for this mascot change is absolutely necessary.”
Calkins did not back up that conviction with any concrete evidence, but vaguely discussed how ‘redskin’ is an offensive term. The gaping hole in that argument, however, is very simple: How offensive a term is depends on who is using it and in what context. The perfect example being the N-word: If a white person uses the N-word, it is – apparently – offensive, even though black people use it constantly and argue that it is not offensive, because of the context in which they use it. By the same token, one must remember that there is no reason why a sports team would select a nickname, based on the idea that the nickname in question is derogatory; sports teams choose nicknames that they consider reflect their strength, their spirit, their courage and their determination to overcome their opponents. Thus, the Washington Redskins, clearly, chose that name to reflect the warrior spirit of American Indians.
In credit to Matt Calkins, however, he did go on to point out that the reason most American Indians are so dismissive of the idea that they would find the football team’s nickname offensive is because, as a tribe, a nation or a people, they have much more significant problems to resolve. When Liberals suggest that the Washington Redskins should change their name because it is offensive, they are demeaning Native Americans by implying that these proud people have nothing more to worry about than the name of a sports team.
Opinion by Graham J Noble