On May 10, members of Congress actually took the time to appeal to the owner of the Washington Redskins, Dan Snyder, to change the name of its “mascot” to something less offensive.
Well, it’s not as if Congress has anything bigger to deal with.
Anyway, once all the jokes about calling them the D.C. Redskins or just out and out removing the name “Washington” from everything Redskin related, the nation was left with a decades-old controversy of “sports nicknames and everything the easily offended can find wrong with them.”
So here we are, once again, pretending to hotly contest an issue based on political correctness of the day instead of focusing on the minutia of ’Merica’s problems such as, oh let’s say, unemployment, the national debt, the war on terror and Obamacare.
You know, the little stuff.
Look, having the nickname “Redskins” in the NFL is no more offensive or racists than the Buccaneers from Tampa, Raiders from Oakland and Vikings from Minnesota being accused of supporting the raping and pillaging of innocents. Neither is any team called the Rebels promoting respect for slavery or the New York Jets being an affront to the Sharks, and thus offensive to all Puerto Ricans.
Silly knee-jerk reactions
These silly knee-jerk reactions to faux-racism have always been around in one form or another, so we need to understand the difference between a racial or social slur and a nickname.
The Houston Honkeys, Cleveland Crackers or New Orleans N-words would certainly be considered racists, but the Minturn Maulers, Vail Vultures or Eagle Valley Devils are simple nicknames and, in some cases, are representative of the image the particular area is attempting to portray.
And don’t get me started on the whole imaginary characters from fictional stories issue. Whether you call your team the Devils, Demons or the John Galts is irrelevant due to their make-believe nature in the first place.
But don’t get me wrong, as I understand the Redskins are not “honoring” Native Americans with their nickname any more than the Cincinnati Bengals are honoring an endangered species or the Dallas Cowboys are honoring late-19th-century cattle rustlers.
Yet the phrase “red people” comes from the Choctaw Indian tribe and is pronounced “Oklahoma,” so should Congress be pressuring an entire state to change its name?
Are the Denver Nuggets offending McDonald’s pretend chicken or simply honoring the tiny little specks of gold found in Colorado?
Should Buffalo be forced to change their name to the Williams? How about the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Chiefs or even the New England Patriots?
It’s all just so silly.
Yes, yes, I know that in today’s super sensitive climate of fragile emotions, we must be sure to not offend anyone, anywhere, at any time. But unless a nickname is created for the specific purpose of offending, then it is nothing more than that — a nickname, and the nation, especially Congress, should find other pressing issues to blow way out of proportion.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a weekly column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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