WASHINGTON — The name of Washington’s NFL team was further politicized this week, as Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders came down on the side of change for the Redskins.
“Washington has a very good football team but it doesn’t have to be called the Redskins,” Sanders told a rallying crowd at a Navajo casino.
It is not an unexpected stance for the self-identifying socialist politician, who was part of a group of 50 U.S. Senators to sign a letter urging owner Dan Snyder to change the Redskins name. That letter came out in the wake of the racial comments made public by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The letter included this pivot from that situation to the Redskins:
“The despicable comments made by Mr. Sterling have opened up a national conversation about race relations. We believe this conversation is an opportunity for the NFL to take action to remove the racial slur from the name of one of its marquee franchises.”
- “Acknowledging Racism: The history of gross mistreatment of Native Americans should be brought to and maintained in the public’s attention. Stereotypes and slurs against Native Americans should be discouraged and denounced.”
- “The American Baseball League’s [sic] Cleveland Indians team and National Football League’s Washington, D.C. Redskins team are both professional sports teams which use images as mascots that stereotype Native Americans. Additionally, “redskin” is commonly used as a derogatory racial slur to refer to Native American individuals.”
- “Bernie signed a formal congressional letter denouncing name of the Washington Redskins as racist and urged the NFL to push to rename the team.”
His comments at the Navajo casino seem to be the latest acknowledgement of a long-held belief that Snyder should change the team’s name.
On the other hand, at least he thinks the Redskins are “a very good football team.”