Fifty U.S. senators have petitioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to force the owner of the NFL’s Washington, D.C., franchise, the Redskins, to change the team name. The Redskins mascot has become the marquee focus of America’s Puritans of political correctness. In their crusade to purge the nation of anything they determine is bigotry or racism, these witch-hunters have decided that continuing to use the name “Redskins” for a sports team is tantamount to racism.
And, of course, in America these days there is no greater sin than racism, and no more damning accusation than being labeled a racist. Racists are right down there in the cesspool of depravity with pedophiles, and are hunted down with the same blind, righteous ferocity that Joe McCarthyites pursued communists back in the 1950s.
Encouraged by the excoriation of Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling after he was exposed making blatantly racists remarks during a private conversation, the perpetually peeved Puritans of political correctness have renewed their attack on the Washington Redskins mascot.
Actual racism should be condemned, but notions of abstract discrimination and inflated minority rights, both inherent in this mascot issue, are gratuitous and patently foolish. First of all, who suffers any real physical or economic harm by a team’s mascot being the Braves, or the Chiefs, or the Seminoles, or the Redskins?
Next, if it is wrong for sports teams to have mascots with Indian names or images, does it follow that it is wrong for any organization, geographic location or natural feature to have Indian names or to use Indian images? If so, what will we rename Lake Huron, or the states of Illinois, Iowa and Utah, and, the worst offender of all, Indiana? Does Red Man chewing tobacco have to change its brand name and logo? Should we never shout “Geronimo!” when leaping into a pool or launching down a ski run?
The use of Indian mascots is clearly not a belittlement of Native Americans. Why would any team or organization choose a mascot that they were not proud to be identified with or that demeaned the team or organization? Indian mascots are prized as totems of strength and courage. How is that offensive? These are virtues, not derogations.
How many other minority groups can claim that they are victims of symbolic bigotry? Will the Irish demand that the University of Notre Dame scuttle its pugilistic leprechaun mascot? Should Americans of Scandinavian descent be in high dudgeon over the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings?
As a practical matter in America today, trying to appease every self proclaimed victim of discrimination or every advocacy group with a tomahawk to grind would be a hopelessly endless task. For example, the animal rights group, PETA, once petitioned Austin (Minn.) High School to change the school’s nickname, the Packers. Meat packing is a major industry in Austin, and the PETA folks, who object to raising animals only to eat them, decided that the name “packers” promoted carnivorism. Would PETA also object to a school having a wolf, lion or eagle as a mascot since all those creatures are carnivores, too?
This political correctness stuff can get pretty complicated. If it is unacceptable to refer to Native Americans as redskins, why is it acceptable to call African-Americans blacks or Caucasians whites? Just how do the politically correct determine whether the use of a name or image is either honorary or offensive? If an Indian Head penny or nickel is offensive, is a Sacagewea dollar also offensive? Is a piece of art depicting Indians discriminatory — say a carved wooden Indian holding cigars? If so, is the giant image of Crazy Horse carved out of a small mountain in South Dakota a monumental derogation?
When politically correct busybodies want to force their way of thinking on everyone else, they will typically demonize those who engage in the behavior or life choices to which the busybodies object. That is why Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who has steadfastly refused to capitulate to the politically correct, will be labeled a racist, as will Goodell if the commissioner doesn’t force the name change. If the Redskin mascot remains, expect all the self-righteous rage of a lynch mob. There will be loud protest rallies with signs and banners blaring recriminations and calumnies. There will be calls for boycotts.
A boycott of the NFL Redskins would indicate if the broader public believes Indian mascots are a serious slur or a proud moniker. With all the truly critical problems confronting this nation, do the majority of Americans — regardless of which particular demographic, ethnic, cultural or racial group they belong — really believe that invented racism involving mascots and nicknames is a real issue?
Go ahead, try the boycott. See what happens.