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This week, 50 U.S. Senators signed a letter urging the Redskins to change their name. Former NFL coach and executive Mike Holmgren weighed in today, saying the team should “absolutely” change the name. What’s your take? Should the team change its name, and will it?
The Washington Redskins name debate took a political turn last week when 50 members of the Senate signed a letter urging the NFL—and in particular Commissioner Roger Goodell—to force the organization to change their name.
While this dispute is not new, the scope of coverage and notable people beginning to clamor for change has certainly increased as of late.
The primary argument by those who deem the Redskin moniker as a badge of honor for Native Americans seems to be that the origin of the word is not negative or derogatory.
The Smithsonian Institute’s senior linguist Ives Goddard researched the word tirelessly and concluded that the origins are nonthreatening.
This stands in stark contrast to what some folks—including Native American activist Suzan Harjo—have stated Redskin originally stood for, which is scalps that bounty hunters removed from Native Americans.
By all accounts, Goddard is correct about the words origins, but what people are failing to recognize is the pejoration—or gradual worsening—process the word has gone through.
In 2014, we must be open to discourse and acknowledge that Redskin has moved beyond its original meaning. It has traveled through centuries and gradually picked up negative inferences.
A valid question would be if Washingtonians were given the opportunity to name a new franchise today, would Redskin, Redman or Red Indian—which are all defined in the Oxford dictionary as dated and offensive—be considered acceptable or honorable?
The clear answer, to most, is no.
So why the obsession with holding onto a name that—regardless of its supposed original intent by known bigot George Marshall—in today’s society is clearly outdated and offensive?
The sooner Daniel Synder acknowledges the fact that his teams name is an issue, the sooner we can begin honestly discussing a new name.