BY MICHAEL REISIG –
The term, “Redskins,” is defined as “usually offensive” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but it goes without saying that it is not, by any means, considered a derogatory phrase by any Redskins football team fan, and certainly not by the Redskins ownership. The team, the fans, and the city of Washington have always been proud of their team and proud of the name. But if you look hard enough or long enough, you can always find something bad in just about anything, and that seems to have become the by-word for the once put-upon races in America.
I’ll tell you flat out that my respect for the heritage of the American Indian, and my shame for what this country did to them, is enormous. Of all the races that have been unfairly treated and displaced in this country, the American Indian has far more grounds for embitterment than any of the others. Yet by their proud nature, and due to the duplicity and the crushing blows we exercised against their nations, they have complained the least. But the Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson intellect has found its way to the forefront in the Redskins team name issue, and the smell of money has now imbued indignation to a whole new level. And once again it was Mr. Obama (who never lets a good crisis go to waste), who stirred the ant’s nest by sticking his opinion into a place where it doesn’t belong, and finding yet another way to separate the people of this nation.
To me this whole thing looks more like a Sharpton/Jackson shakedown than a genuine effrontery. This issue could easily become a dominoes effect – what about the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Cleveland Indians? There are already clinical psychologists (paid for their opinion) like Dr. Michael Friedman, who has studied “the effects of stigma and discrimination” and has announced that, “words like ‘redskin’ weigh heavily on the mental health of a community already hit hard by poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence.” He fails to mention that, today, American Indians are one of the most handsomely paid segments of minorities in America, from the myriad welfare benefits available, to percentages of casino profits. And I’m absolutely certain there is a large majority of proud American Indians that find this race pandering nothing short of embarrassing.
Racial sensitivities and standard traditions aside, this name change thing puts hundreds of millions of dollars at risk for the Redskins, and the owner, Dan Snyder. Marketing experts say ticket sales, and merchandising could easily suffer. However, no action at all may prove every bit as costly if attention to this current name game continues to escalate.
An associate professor of marketing at Georgetown University, Ronald Goodstein, has placed the overall value of the Redskins franchise at near $2 billion, and it is recognized as one of the top franchises in the world. It would be an uphill struggle for the Redskins to recreate the energy and devotion among fans with a new team name – all this for a word that hasn’t been commonly used on the street for nearly a century.
The fabric of America is slowly rendering as we continue to find more reasons to dissect and compartmentalize this nation. There are whole bevies of ordinary words in the English language that have been decreed as ethnically offensive and are now simply “socially illegal.” We continually find ourselves censoring and reconstructing into more acceptable euphemisms words that weren’t really offensive to begin with. We’ve taken God out of schools and prayer out of sports competitions, and Christ out of Christmas so as to not affront the sensibilities of a few, and all that offends me. Once you set this kind of mindset in motion and give it license, there’s no determining how far it will go. We should be looking to the future together, rather than arguing with each other over the past.
The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ownership and staff of The Polk County Pulse. Michael Reisig is a freelance writer and published author whose works are reproduced throughout the globe.