Sylvia Thompson
September 15, 2013
On the Redskins name controversy
By Sylvia Thompson

I am not a football fan, but I am an American citizen who is thoroughly fed-up with the progressive left and political correctness. I read that the Washington Redskins football team owner, Daniel Snyder, is being pressured to change the team's name, because it may be offensive to American Indians.

Side note: I view every American who was born in this country, who has centuries of history on this soil, as "native American." I am a native American, with over two-hundred years of heritage passed on from my ancestors, who were brought here from Africa. That the term should be applied to only one segment of the American populace is a misuse of that term.

Yes, natives were here when Europeans came, but those natives came from somewhere, themselves. There is no plausible proof that any group of people on American soil was on it from its creation. Everybody here came from somewhere else.

To the issue of who claims it, I say that only the group who was strong enough to occupy and hold it can make that claim. Nations are built on that premise. People without a safe place to thrive have throughout history sought out safe haven in other lands. If they found such a place, either they ingratiated themselves to the current occupants, or they mustered the force to take over that land. Whoever was strongest, took possession. Vanquished people then decided whether they would meld with the victors and take advantage of the positives that they afforded (Japan being an example) or they isolated themselves from the victors (American Indians being an example). That is, if the victors chose not to destroy the vanquished. History is replete with such destruction. America chose not to destroy.

Bleeding hearts can whine and moan over the atrocities that accompany such survival tactics, but those tactics are the way of human existence.

Now, to the issue of the team name. I heard the football league commissioner, Roger Goodell's comment that if only one person was offended by the name "Redskins," the league should "consider" a change. If he meant that statement, I pity the man that he can be so easily manipulated. I also heard that the owner, Daniel Snyder, refuses to be manipulated in such a fashion. It seems that the Redskins' stadium is full to capacity when they play, and on that statistic, Mr. Snyder can rest his case.

A BBC News Magazine online article by Tom Geoghegan (posted 9/13/2013) deals with the history of the term "redskins." Apparently it was used by natives in America to distinguish themselves from Europeans. This tidbit comes from Ives Goddard, senior linguist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. That a term used by the natives themselves would be derogatory does not make any sense, Goddard points out. And he is correct.

That said, the term took on a derogatory nature sometime during the 19th Century, according to the article. The football team adopted the name in 1933 when co-owner George Preston Marshall renamed the Boston Braves the Redskins, and the name followed the team to Washington.

History aside, what we are dealing with now is an attempt to dictate to a private owner (Daniel Snyder) how he must handle his private property (a football team). Until Snyder sees that the team's fans are leaving the stands in droves over a ginned-up controversy perpetrated by the liberal left, then I suggest that he hold his ground.

There will be those who offer, "Suppose somebody named a team Sambos or Uncle Toms?" To that statement, my first response would be that those terms have no history of representing anything but the denigration of black people. Redskins, on the other hand, in its use today, references masculine bravery as represented by fighting native warriors. My next response would be that, as a black person, I am not affected by such names. I know who and what I am, and what I am called is irrelevant.

Interestingly, I am called "black," although my skin tone is brown, and I do not take issue with that term. I can personally testify, however, that when I was a child, the term "black" was considered derogatory. You could call your little friends any obnoxious, nasty name under the sun, but "black" merited more punishment than the others.

Indians are neither red-skinned nor are they called "red" by anybody today. Why, then, is there an issue? Especially since the few instances of the name (as with the Redskins team) are in reference to manliness and bravery. I have seen no statistical proof that a majority of Indians are offended by that term. And it is very clear that the fans of the Redskins are not offended, or they would avoid the games.

This situation brings to mind an interview that I saw on television many years ago with Maria Tallchief, the great American ballerina. The commentator asked her if she minded being called "Indian," to which she replied, no. Upon her death in April of this year, Jack Anderson related this interesting story in a 4/12/2013 article in the New York Times online Dance section. Growing up at a time when many American dancers adopted Russian stage names, Ms. Tallchief, proud of her Indian heritage, refused to do so, even though friends told her that it would be easy to transform Tallchief into Tallchieva. I wonder how many more Tallchiefs are out there.

I advise my fellow native Americans (Indians) to get a grip. To whatever degree you are offended by the name Redskins, the offense is not worth the effort. The liberal left needs you as their victims as much as they need blacks. Do not play their game, because you are of no interest to them, otherwise. Only their agenda matters.

© Sylvia Thompson

 

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Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson is a black conservative writer whose aim is to counter the liberal spin on issues pertaining to race and culture... (more)

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