Washington Redskins: What’s in a Name?

The language police have been out in force in recent months.  The target du jour is the NFL team that resides in the nation’s capitol.  They are trying to force the owner of that illustrious franchise to ditch the team’s 80-year-old mascot.

Some, a precious few as it turns out, believe the word “Redskins” to be a slur.

Barack Obama, who never misses an opportunity to right every perceived racial wrong, didn’t help by wading into the matter recently and ginning up the controversy.

Let’s face it.  Some people with way too much time on their hands can get offended by a ham sandwich!   The fact that the overwhelming majority of Native Americas aren’t offended by the term, and are proud that this team chose to highlight the positive attributes of their heritage, ought to count for something.

Such was the case when a few uptight feminists, with their panties in a twist, began insisting we rid our speech of words like “Miss, Mrs., Mistress, Madam,” “lady” and “ma’ am” as in “Yes ma’ am.”   What generally is considered to be polite forms of address is offensive to the NOW crowd.  They want to be referred to as “women” or individually as a “woman” and will accept no substitutes.

Frankly, I am offended when a youngster I barely know answers me with a simple “yes,” or worse, “yeah,” which is all too common these days.   

These disgruntled charmers are right about one thing though.  Every adult female is a woman.  However, all women are not ladies.  That is a term that must be earned!

The Washington team began as the Boston Braves, sharing a playing field with its baseball counterpart.  The following year the franchise moved across town to share Fenway Park with the Red Sox and became Redskins.  What else?  Also, the name was  a way to honor the fact that four of the original players and the head coach were Native Americans.  

I’m not aware of any Native Americans who play for the Redskins today.   However, many Native Americans contributed to the founding of this country.  One of the paintings in the dome of the Capitol is of Pocahontas at her Christian baptism.  

Nevertheless, if the traditional mascot is to be abolished at the request of the president and a few other malcontents, may I suggest that the team choose one that is more indicative of Washington today.  I humbly offer a few suggestions.

  • Washington Statesman — this one, too, is outdated.  Few statesmen left.
  • Washington Lawmakers  — this one is too obvious.
  • Washington Politicians —  now that’s more like it.
  • Washington Bureaucrats — getting warmer.
  • Washington Spinners — both lawmakers and bureaucrats have mastered this art
  • Washington Freeloaders — the key to lawmakers and bureaucrats’ power
  • Washington Entitled — they pass and enforce laws but exempt themselves from our misery.

If the shoe fits . . .  Then again, the team could choose to change the mascot but keep the feathers:

  •  Washington Crows — Our representatives are always crowing about how much they do for the rest of us.
  • Washington Buzzards — they pick our bones clean.
  • Washington Vultures — redundant.

Charles Krauthammer is one who believes the team should abandon the word “Redskins” because, over time, language changes.  He suggested the team drop the “red” and go with “skins” since it has a sports connotation.   He is referring to “skins vs. shirts,” which is used to denote teams in pickup games when uniforms are unavailable.  One team wears shirts and the other team wears simply skin.  

Skins also stands for cigarette papers, particular those for rolling a joint.  While this would appeal to some liberal groups, it would anger the angry feminists.  Who would dare suggest a group of female basketball players go topless?  Also, skin often refers to nudes as in “skin magazines” or “skin flicks.”

I will admit that Dr. Krauthammer’s suggestion does have merit.  Our elected representatives play lose and fast with our money because they have no “skin” in the game.    Also, they could be accused of “skinning” taxpayers alive in order to feed their favored friends.

This will no doubt offend members of the House and Senate, which just proves my point:  You can’t please everyone.  

Despite the language police, I prefer to keep the term “Mrs.”  And, when someone calls me “a lady,” I’m flattered.  Thank you very much!

Meanwhile, as long as most Native Americans aren’t offended by the use of Redskins — which was  a name they used to describe themselves and gave to the settlers — as long as they want to keep their proud heritage alive as this Washington’s team mascot, I believe we ought to leave the name alone.

3 thoughts on “Washington Redskins: What’s in a Name?

  1. We need to stop indulging what I call “professional offended people.” These are, as Ms. Chastain pointed out, people who tend to have far too much free time, often because they are on the dole or because they work for professional offended organizations like the NAACP or NOW. If any Christian dare wear a cross in public, utter the dreaded name “Jesus,” or so much as pray silently, there is always a militant atheist around who feels “offended” and even “threatened.” Yet these same sensitive souls are not offended by Muslims, their women wearing black sacks over their heads, who support or at least condone mass murder.
    And the Muslims themselves are offended by the mere existence of anyone who does not believe exactly as they do, including other Muslims.
    Black militants are offended by virtually everything and everyone, by virtually anything anyone says or does and by virtually anything they don’t say or do. They pretend to be the “victims” of largely imaginary White “racism,” but have no problem with the near-constant attacks of Black mobs on Whites and Asians.
    Personally, I find professional offended people to be the most offensive people on Earth.

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  2. Excellent, Jane, in making a point as well as entertaining. I could write an essay on this but will control my writing impulse. Loved your comment about women vs. ladies, a term that must be earned. The same is true about the misuse of “gentleman” that is so often inappropriately and erroneously applied to 8-balls, criminals, thieves, and many in congress. Next might be the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves, neither team likely citing their true makeup. Then they’ll go after the San Francisco Giants, claiming they aren’t really giants but are about the same size as other baseball players – and let’s not forget the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Angels…?? And the Pittsburgh Pirates may be offensive as pirates are not ‘very nice people.’ Maybe the Pittsburgh Puppies (to keep the alliteration) or the Pittsburgh Porcupines might suit potential protesters. Alliteration being appealing and representation being accurate, maybe the Washington Wafflers or Wishywashies, Whirligigs (one that continuously whirls, moves, or changes), or finally the Washington Wastelanders for that is the direction the inhabitants of Washington D C are taking us.

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  3. Just do a little historical research my friends into where and when all this brouhaha comes from, and you’ll track it back to the early 1960s in the south. That’s when a group of people decided they needed special rights and treatment above what regular Americans get, and egged on by communist sympathizers we ended up with so called “civil rights” legislation that has torn our country apart and a large portion of uppity people who no longer know their place in our America!

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