Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor yesterday that the racist name of the Redskins needs to come down now.
Reid noted this week’s district court ruling that “affirmed what Native Americans have been saying for decades – the Washington football team name is disparaging.”
“It is racist and morally objectionable. And it should be changed immediately,” he said. “U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee sustained the Patent and Trademark Office’s decision that the Washington football team name should not be protected by a federal trademark registration.”
Last year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided 2-1 not to renew the team’s trademark registration, ruling that Redskins is offensive to American Indians. The case went to court, and Lee upheld the Patent Office decision.
Lee noted that Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, in 1898, defined Redskins as an “often contemptuous” word, 70 years before the first team trademark was granted. The ruling doesn’t ban the team from using the name or logo, but trademarking it.
Redskins President Bruce Allen said the team is taking the case up to the 4th District Court of Appeals. “We are convinced that we will win on appeal as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years,” he said in a statement.
“The federal government should not protect a team or company that takes pride in bearing a racial slur,” Reid continued. “But while the ruling is a step in the right direction, this battle is not over. Ultimately, the responsibility rests with Dan Snyder. The U.S. government cannot change his team’s name – only he can.”
“For far too long, owner Dan Snyder has tried to hide behind ‘tradition.’ But yesterday’s ruling makes clear that his franchise’s name only fosters a tradition of racism, bigotry and intolerance.”
Snyder, Reid said, “should do the right thing and change the team name.”
“There’s no place for that kind of tradition in the National Football League,” he said. “And there’s certainly no place for it in America.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has urged the team to drop its appeals, saying, “I hope that [owner] Dan Snyder gets on with his real business of getting the team back in winning form and selecting a new mascot.”