October 21, 2013 by David K. Sutton
A Test To Prove The ‘Redskins’ Name Is Offensive, And Why The Washington NFL Team Must Change It
I want to preface this article by saying that the word “redskin” and the name “Redskins” are both considered offensive slang references by many Native Americans. I only use these words in this article to make a case for why it is offensive, and why an NFL team should no longer use an offensive slang term as a nickname.
If your defense for keeping the Washington “Redskins” name is to ask “What’s next?” then you’ve already conceded you have no argument, or your argument’s foundation is crumbling under the weight of your failed imagination. If you are asking us what name will be challenged next, like say, the “Fighting Irish,” as a means to defend the Redskins name, you are not making your case for the name itself. Instead, you are using a classic argumentative deflection technique to avoid building a case for the very thing you are trying to defend.
But here’s where I tell you the Associated Press conducted a poll from April 11-15 that showed the public is strongly in support of keeping the Redskins name (79% to 11%). However, you know if the name was changed, and a few years later a new poll was conducted, there would likely be majority support for the name change. So it doesn’t really matter where public opinion stands on the Redskins name, what really matters is the groundswell. If enough people are going to continue to be vocal, and if they grow in numbers, public opinion could still strongly support the Redskins name but the Washington Redskins ownership may feel they can no longer ignore a simple reality — that the name is indefensible and will eventually change, so why not change it now. Rarely do events like this come about because of majority public support. And this is also an example of where public opinion does not equate to informed opinion.
I forget who originally said this, but I heard recently someone talk about a good test we all can use to determine if a word or name is offensive. In the case of the word “redskin,” who came up with it? Or in other words, did Native Americans come up with that slang term, or did someone else from another ethnicity come up with it? I think you know it’s the latter. Therefore, the word “redskin” is offensive. It’s a simple test. It works every time.
Even most dictionaries define the word “redskin” as offensive. Merriam-Webster defines “redskin” as a “usually offensive” word for “American Indian.”
And here’s another test. Would you feel comfortable using the term “redskin” in the presence of Native Americans? If not, that should tell you something. You inherently know the term is wrong. And if that’s the case, then why is it still okay to have an NFL team named the Redskins in 2013?
Because it doesn’t matter if the Washington Redskins has been around for over 80 years. It doesn’t matter that there are generations of Redskins fans. It doesn’t matter that we associate sports with tradition, and that it’s hard to change tradition. The reason none of this matters is because we are weighing the use of a slang term as a football team nickname against the same term’s disparaging and offensive meaning to a people. Is there really anything to debate here? This really is a simple decision. — Change the name.
And I have one more thing to say… Yo Washington DC, what’s up with your team names? The “Capitals” and “Nationals” are good and make sense, but what’s up with the “Bullets” and the “Redskins”? At least you had the sense to change the name “Bullets,” although who the hell came up with “Wizards”? But now it’s time to retire “Redskins” and move past your questionable (or worse) team nicknames.