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‘Racism, Inc.’ Comes to Football

November 2nd, 2013 - 5:46 am

The historian Robert Paquette has done something unforgivable in his column “‘Racism, Inc.’Comes to Football.”  He has brought formidable scholarship and deep historical knowledge to a contentious subject that has hitherto been the province of politically correct clichés. His immediate subject is the controversy—if “controversy” is the correct term for a classic case of left-wing victimology—over the name”Redskins” for a football team. Is it a racially insensitive moniker? Yet another example of unthinking white supremacist intimidation?  Or is it (as I would contend) a completely innocent label appropriated by the morally inflamed commissars of Racism, Inc. in their effort to further their campaign of racialist intimidation?

I think it’s the latter, and Paquette provides some historically informed observations that help explain why. Imagine bringing a lawsuit to force a football team to change its name. But that’s exactly what some left-wing activists with too much time on their hands have done. Quoth one such activist, Suzan Shown Harjo, “a Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee”: “Most Native Americans despise the term Redskins . .  and say that it is the worst epithet hurled at Native Peoples in the English language.” Oh, dear. She went one to note that  “Redskins” referred to “the days of Indian bounty hunting in the 1600s and 1700s,” i.e., the practice “of paying bounties for the bloody red skins and scalps as evidence of Indian kill.”

I want to interject here that I make it a practice, when asked,  to refer to myself as a native American. Having been born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, than which a more American venue of natality is hard to imagine, I think I am entitled to the term. Sure, I know that  “Native American” is like “Person of Color” ( I, too, I’d like to point out, have a color), a semantic lever used to further the work of neo-segregation. But I digress . . . 

Paquette notes that “supporters in the academy have echoed [Harjo’s] assertion, although when the footnotes are examined the professors have performed little if any serious research on their own and, as was the case with one professor of political science and philosophy, merely assert that ‘this fact has been recognized by certain governing bodies [sic!].’”

Here’s where it gets interesting.  “Other facts,” Paquette observes, “run counter to the activists’ narrative.”

Polling data, at this point in time, fail to support Ms. Harjo’s first point; a higher proportion, of whites than “Native-Americans,” in neither case a majority, find the word “redskins” offensive. Moreover, not a shred of documented historical evidence has surfaced to support Harjo’s more incendiary second point. As Ives Goddard, a prominent linguistic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, has pointed out, “Harjo has made a living of making assertions on a variety of controversial terms without providing any evidence for them.”  In truth, the use of “red” in describing descendants of Pre-Columbian peoples has a historical trajectory that in no way matches that of “black” in describing Africans and persons of African-descent.  Every word has its own discrete history. Undue present-mindedness, it appears, has led Ms. Harjo and her supporters to read into “redskin” an ugly equivalence, unsustained by historical scholarship, to that elicited by, say, the words “kike” and “spic.”

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Top Rated Comments   
The imbroglio over the term "Redskins" calls to mind all of the other "cultures" whose spokesmen (usually self-appointed) have expressed outrage about this or that. I just heard somewhere that a Japanese "cultural group" forced Pottery Barn to drop "Sushi Chef" and "Geisha Girl" from it's line of packaged Halloween costumes. I believe this is part of the current bumper-stickerism that says "We're a Culture not a Costume." Apparantly you can only portray such (media-approved) "cultures" in two ways - The first as "Aggrieved Victim" and the second as "Heroic-Victim-Overcoming-Oppression." The division of society into different "cultural" fiefdoms has long been promoted by the Left as a way of attacking the "White Male-Dominated Power-Structure." The alternative to the melting-pot is what the Rev. Jackson used to call a "beautiful mosaic" inwhich each "culture" is a self-contained entity that is part of some greater whole. Yet this has always begged the question of "What's Holding Us Together." The Rev. Jackson never mentioned that in his "mosaic" there must be some sort of glue or cement that keeps the individual "tiles" together. Otherwise you just get a pile of rubble. That cement used to be broadly shared ideas of genuine tolerance, mercy and generosity. It also involves humor and self-deprecation and a sense of humor. Those now campaigning against the "Redskins" and those objecting to sushi chef Halloween costumes may or may not believe in what they are doing but they certainly lack those qualities of tolerance, generosity and humor that are needed to bind a whole society together. It also asks the question - Is there an independent "American" culture anymore?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My brother-in-law is full blooded Inuit. He laughs at the attempts by "the victim-hooded mentality of the left" in his words to try to drag the American Indian into their sorry-assed world. Most of them couldn't care less about a team called the Redskins. He/they are all chanting "GO SEAHAWKS"!

He did suggest that maybe the Redskins could change the name to the Blackskins since "most of the team are made up of that tribe anywho" according to him. His suggestion - not mine. I did think it was funny.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (48)
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I do not believe that "Redskins", or any of names of American Indian origin for sports teams, are meant to be disparaging. Instead, they celebrate legendary fighting masculine qualities that are actually indicative actually of admiration. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are always some, or even many, who will be offended.
I would like to propose a possible solution. Why not let some federation of the Indian nation franchise their Indian names to universities and sports teams. That way everyone might be happy. The Indian nation can then take pride in having their names used, and participate in the financial rewards. The teams and institutions would also reap the benefit of knowing that they are sharing the rewards of using the names with the Indian nation. It could be a win-win for everybody.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They should be renamed the "foreskins" in a tribute to the congress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As a native american I do not find Redskins offensive. What I find offensive is guilty white lieberals with too much time on their hands who ignore the multitude of real problems in this country.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is all so dismally hilarious...I'll have to join in though. Part of my heritage is Danish, and I know for a fact I have an ancient ancestor known by the name Thorfinn Scullcleaver (no, I'm not kidding), so I must take exception at the Minnesota Vikings moniker. The very name forces me and mine to reflect on our bloodthirsty, pillaging past and implies that we are not truly capable of being the benign little andrognyous metrosexuals we've tried so hard to become. I think, no, I KNOW that I am now offended and rightly should be. I'm calling Roger Goodell as soon as I'm done wiping the broken-hearted tears of shame and degradation from my face. *OH MY ACHING HEAD* (Why do I feel like LMAO and beating someone up at the same time, lol?)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You have to love the Norse for their creative names. I also have Danish ancestors back to some bastard son of a prince.

As long as we're offended by names, we also need to get of the 49ers, who exploited mother earth ruthlessly in the pursuit of gold.

And the Cowboys, who raped the west, killing Indians and fostering a culture of cattle exploitation that to this day pollutes the land and causes untold numbers of deaths from eating meat.

And the Packers. We all know thats just an offensive euphemism for gay people.

And the Giants. Not only does it unduly draw attention to tall people, its denigrative to midgets.

And the Raiders. Glorifies violence But really mostly because they suck.

And the Buccaneers. Pirates were not nice people.

I'm sure there are lots of others, just gotta find a reason.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I say if they are going to nick name a team after Native Americans they should give them an accurate one. "Illiterate Stone Age Savages" sounds about right.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Greetings:

I was never much of a "literature" fan during my academic years and even less so for "poetry", but there is a concept from the latter that I have managed to retain and that I think is applicable to this teapot of tempest but seems to have escaped the many wordsmiths eager to share their wit and wisdom or things somewhat similar.

Teachers of poetry, or at least the few under whose purview I fell, discriminate between "denotation" and "connotation". Simply put the "denotation" is the dictionary definition of the word, what it is commonly accepted to mean. "Connotation", on the other hand, is the meaning that is inferred by the where, when, and how the word is actually used to convey meaning. It can be the same as the "denotation" or it can be somewhat or even largely different.

Thus, "denotationally", "Redskins" is probably not a nice word to use and this would appear to be supported by its very random use. "Connotationally", though, there is no logic to naming a sports team with a derogatory term. This is what I see somewhat poetically as two team names passing in the night.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think they should change their name to either the DC Cronies or the Capital Stealers. This will help identify the team with the activity that goes on in their hometown. I would suggest "the Budget Busters" but before you bust a budget you have to have one. The Fighting Lobbyists might work but they tend to squabble more than fight and then trade favors so they can all cooperate in busting the budget if there was, in fact, a budget for all these busters to bust.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This initiative is part of the campaign to induce in Americans a persistent, powerful fear of giving offense that causes us to self-censor. Control over a man's speech is control over his thought process. It's why I make a point of using "offensive" terms, and doing so in company whenever possible -- and it's why I regard as cowardly sites that impose automatic deletions upon the statements of commenters that use such terms.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I doubt if the Redskin's nickname will last out the decade. One by one the cult of the permanently offended and fearful is focusing their attention on the "harms" of dangerous society.

Today a Nebula award-winning author on Twitter lamented "Whenever I see a preschool girl dressed in pink, my heart breaks."

A second author responded "So many levels of how sexism still harms women."

The first goes on "Baby Food Preparation items come in gendered varieties. I'm sorry, why does your baby food maker need to be pink? *despair* - it does make me feel like hitting someone. Or something."

The second says "That the insistent gendering is worse than it was 25 years ago is shocking and discouraging."

"Harm," heartbreak, discouragement, "despair," "shocking," "hitting." These people are nuts, and they're mainstreaming their senseless fears and disdain for the wrong gender and race right into our homes by social and political advocacy, rather than, "I don't like it" but live and let live.

Today, sexual harassment could be a leaf falling to the ground.

Someone wants to sue the Redskins? How about they get fitted for a straightjacket together with a sign pointing the way to a life.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
WHY NOW!?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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