For quite some time now, there has been a good population of Americans who have believed that Washington’s “Redskins” nickname was politically incorrect. Earlier this summer, a member of the Washington D.C. Council even suggested that the organization change its monicker to something along the lines of “Redtails.”
In response to collective pressure from 10 members of United State Congress to finally make a name change, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stepped in and penned a letter to the United States government himself.
However, he was not defending Snyder’s decision. Instead, he said that the term “Redskins” is not racist, and in fact never was, according to a copy of the letter released to USA Today on Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa).
In the letter, Goodell calls the nickname, “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
Further, the commissioner states that the Redskins name “from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context,” and was never “meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group.”
The point, of course, is that it has offended people. Goodell’s letter included opinion polls suggesting that the majority of the general public, as well as American Indians are not troubled by the name.
However, the fact that Goodell must point to the numbers and write letters on behalf of a billionaire owner signals to several involved that the commissioner has missed the point altogether.
McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, called Goodell’s defense of the name “twisted logic” and “a statement of absurdity.”
“Goodell’s letter is another attempt to justify a racial slur on behalf of (Redskins owner) Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who appear to be only concerned with earning ever larger profits, even if it means exploiting a racist stereotype of Native Americans.”
Faleomavaega, a member of the House Committees on Natural Resources and Foreign Affairs, wholeheartedly agrees.
“Goodell has completely missed the point. … It is time for the NFL to stop making excuses for itself and fully embrace its so-called commitment to diversity.”
At one point, Goodell pointed to the efforts he and his league have made in terms of making strides towards a more culturally sensitive and diverse game.
Goodell’s letter said, “As you correctly recognize, the issues raised with respect to the Washington Redskins name are complex, and we respect that reasonable people may view it differently, particularly over time. … The National Football League takes seriously its responsibility to exemplify the values of diversity and inclusion that make our country great.”
Finally, however, McCollum was not impressed.
“Would Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder actually travel to a Native American community and greet a group of tribal leaders by saying, ‘Hey, what’s up, redskin?’ I think not. … Indian children, families and elders are Americans, and just like all racial, ethnic or religious groups, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not as a demeaning caricature or mascot. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of the NFL.”
[H/T: CBS Sports]