WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — PETA has a suggestion for the Washington Redskins: No need to change the name, just change the logo.
In a blog post, the animal advocacy group said the Redskins should change their logo from an Indian head to a redskin potato.
“The redskin potato would be a noble mascot for a variety of reasons. Potatoes are also native Americans, having been cultivated in Peru for millennia. A tasty, versatile, animal-and environmentally friendly vegan staple, potatoes are now the most popular vegetable in the U.S. They are loaded with nutrients, including iron, potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and even protein, and red potatoes in particular are high in antioxidants,” PETA’s blog states.
The Redskins have been embroiled in controversy recently over the racist implications of its name.
President Barack Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press that the team should consider changing the name.
“I’ve got to say that if I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama said.
Team owner Dan Snyder said in a letter to season-ticket holders last Tuesday he respects the feelings of those who are offended. “But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,” he said.
The letter recalls Snyder’s experience when he attended his first Redskins game at age 6 and cites polls and anecdotal evidence that indicate support for the name from Native Americans. It also states that the original Boston Redskins had a Native American coach in the 1930s before the franchise relocated to Washington, even though research shows that it is unclear whether William “Lone Star” Dietz was an actual Indian or whether he stole the identity of a missing man from the Oglala Sioux tribe.
“The name was never a label,” Snyder’s letter states. “It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor.”
While there have been groups calling for a name change for decades, a series of events this year has put the Redskins on the defensive like never before. Snyder has hired Lanny Davis, an adviser in the Clinton White House who specializes in managing political crises, as an adviser on the matter. The letter shows more sensitivity than the owner’s last on-the-record comment on the topic, when he told USA Today in May: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
In recent months, local leaders in Washington and some members of Congress have called for a name change, and some media outlets have stopped using the name. It is also the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to void the team’s federal trademark protection.
Last week, the NFL met with representatives from the Oneida Indian Nation, which has been airing radio commercials pushing for a change. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league needs to “carefully listen” to critics of the name and “make sure we’re doing what’s right.”
Oneida representative Ray Halbritter differed with the interpretation of the team’s history in Snyder’s letter. Oneida said the team’s nickname “was deliberately designed to denigrate people of color.”
“Unfortunately that ploy was successful,” Halbritter said in a statement. “The marketing of this racial slur has had — and continues to have — very serious cultural, political, and public health consequences for my people and Native Americans everywhere. It is clear from Mr. Snyder’s letter that he does not understand those consequences.”
In the statement, Halbritter invited Snyder to take part in the tribe’s upcoming meeting with the NFL.
Washington coach Mike Shanahan said he was glad that that Snyder “expressed exactly how he feels from an ownership standpoint.”
Goodell has said that it is ultimately Snyder’s call as to whether the name will be changed. For now, it appears the owner is not budging.
“I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn,” the letter states. “But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
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