Ed Driscoll

Redskins on the Brain

For the first 13 or 14 years I had Yahoo’s NFL wire feed on my homepage, during the offseason, its headlines were devoted to head coach changes, player trades, and the occasional report of an athlete whose name appeared in his local police blotter, usually as a result of his overly-rambunctious late night activities.

Since last year however, Yahoo’s offseason NFL headlines revolve around two subjects seemingly to the exclusion of virtually all over NFL coverage — the players’ concussion lawsuit against the league (thus transforming highly-paid professional athletes into victims) and the name of Washington DC’s NFL franchise. As  Ben Domenech recently noted at the Federalist, sports radio, which until recent years was an apolitical broadcast repository for those who wished to take a timeout from the news of the day, has become equally politicized:

Of course, in the ESPN age, the realm of sports is often invaded by politics. This is typically in the form of mild irritants, and the more sports-minded hosts will back away slowly from guests who suddenly feel the need to expound on their deeply held and often clumsily constructed theories about politics to troll their listeners. Some guests are serial offenders in this regard: Kevin Blackistone, for instance, has decried the playing of the national anthem at ballgames as jingoistic warmongering, and said the U.S. should boycott the Olympic Games over Israel’s actions toward the Gaza Flotilla. So you learn to avoid those segments and head over to the ones talking about whether the Vernon Davis holdout is justified and what roster moves need to be made if LeBron is going to stay in Miami.

So it is with great irritation that I have experienced the invasion of sports radio over the past few months by a voice I am more familiar with for its meandering conspiracy-theorizing over the rampant influences of the Brothers Koch: Harry Reid, whose funereal nagging about the name of the Washington Redskins has elevated this battle over political correctness from a low simmer to a hot summer topic. No one particularly cared about this fight when the Redskins were horrid (which has been pretty much every year since I was ten), but since they looked like they were getting good again a year ago, the fight is back in a big way, with all Democratic Senators (save Virginia’s Mark Warner and Tim Kaine) endorsing a name change.

Mostly, this is a sideline issue, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reiterated that the team’s name will never change as long as he owns them, and as the franchise is one of the NFL’s most valuable and a gigantic money-printing machine, there seems to be no possibility of a financial incentive from advertisers or the NFL to make a change. What’s more, the poll data on Native Americans across the country shows overwhelming support for the name. There has never been a poll showing even a plurality of Native Americans in favor of a name change. Were it 90-10 in the other direction, I think the NFL would be more interested in the issue.

At NRO today, Dennis Prager explores how the left have come to acquire “Redskins on the Brain:”

The Washington Redskins have been in existence for 82 years. For about 80 of those years, virtually no one, including the vast majority of American Indians, was troubled by the name. Yet it is now of such importance to the American Left that the majority leader of the United States Senate has repeatedly demanded, from the floor of the Senate, that the team drop its name; 50 U.S. senators, all of them Democrats, have signed an open letter demanding the same; Sports Illustrated’s Peter King no longer uses the name; other leading sportswriters have adopted the same practice; and the president of the United States has weighed in on the issue.

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First, there is a rule in life: Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront. [See also: left’s obsession with global warming — Ed] This has been a dominant characteristic of the Left for at least half a century.

The greatest evils since World War II have been communism and, since the demise of communism in the Soviet Union and in most other communist countries, violent Islam — or, as it often is called, Islamism. Islamism is the belief that sharia (Islamic law) must be imposed wherever possible on a society, beginning, of course, with Muslim-majority countries. These Islamists are, as the British historian Andrew Roberts has noted, the fourth incarnation of fascism — first there was fascism, then Nazism, then communism, and now Islamism.

For many years most of the Western Left was supportive of communism, and after the 1960s, it was simply hostile to anti-communists. The Left was far more concerned with attacking America than with attacking the Soviet Union. So, too, today, the Left is far more concerned with attacking America — its alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and economic inequality — than with fighting Islamism.

Second, the corollary to the above is that those who do not fight the greatest evils invariably loathe those who do. The Left hated American anti-communists much more than it hated communists. The Left today hates traditional America much more than it hates traditional Islamists. The Redskins name is a symbol of that hated America.

Sports isn’t immune to leftwing identity politics disguised as criticism; film and TV criticism got there first; in recent years, reading an assortment of newspaper film reviews would cause one to believe that Hollywood — a much more leftwing environment than the NFL — is a seething hotbed of racism, sexism, homophobia, and whatever other -isms and phobias are being imagined in the fever swamps of the left at given moment. (And yet curiously, few newspaper critics wish to cut themselves off from free screenings, free DVDs, celebrity interviews, and other media junkets when presented by the allegedly racist, sexist, and homophobic film and TV industry.)

As Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “There has been a movement in criticism in recent years to catalog the ways in which art fail certain classes:”

One shudders to think of the ways classic cinema would be critiqued today. Imagine our generation of critics being handed a gem like The Godfather. Oh, you’d see an initial wave of rapturous support. Our finest writers—our A.O. Scotts, our Anthony Lanes, our Seitzes—would undoubtedly recognize its genius. But then, after a week or two, the counterintuitive takes would start popping up. Slate‘s Double X would ask why there are no strong female characters: “All we have are an abused wife and an exploded wife and an ignored wife! What, there was no room for a lady-gangster? Has Francis Ford Coppola never heard of [incredibly minor figure who has been blown up to mythic stature in women’s studies courses]?” Salon would denounce the five families for their plan to distribute drugs among “the coloreds” as well as critics across the land for failing to properly announce just how despicable they found the Corleones following that scene. Godfather Part II‘s release would see Jose Antonio Vargas given 5,000 words and the cover of Time to lament America’s abandonment of immigrants looking for a better life: “We used to be a nation that took in young Vitos, despite their disease, despite their lack of opportunities. Now we’re a nation that heartlessly turns its back on children.” Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Quoting from Andrew Ferguson’s review of Men on Strike by PJM’s own Dr. Helen, Bunch adds that the left just loves it when conservatives use the same sort of identity politics as pushback; but then, this is Pandora’s Box that the left has opened up by declaring that the personal is political and no form of grievance politics is off the table. (All the way down to names of paint colors!) And yet another reminder that “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out.”

Related: Fox News’ Jesse Watters “Gets Kicked Out of NOW Conference, Threatened With Arrest.” Hilarious video of Watters trolling the NAGs at link.