Virginia’s “Redskins Caucus” takes pride in a slur

Washington Redskins NFL team owner Dan Snyder has new allies in his fight to keep his team’s embattled name. Three members of the Virginia General Assembly are rallying for the cause of racism with a “Redskins Pride Caucus.” Virginia never was very quick to abandon bigotry.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City; Del. Jackson Miller, R-Manassas; and Del. David Ramadan, R-Loudon announced their caucus on Monday. It is proof that sports can transcend politics. The D.C. suburbs that they represent are generally the more progressive part of the purple state. Confederate flags fluttering on front porches and emblazoned on pickup trucks whose horns blare Dixie are the stuff of rural Virginia.

Pride is one of the seven deadly sins because it rarely ends well. The LGBTQ community’s annual Pride Week is perhaps the only notable modern exception. Most often when people invoke pride, it is because they cannot otherwise defend their despicable beliefs.

Washington-REdskinsConfederate flag wavers insist they are not racists or traitors in their longing for Southern freedom from Northern tyranny. No, they are just taking pride in their heritage and ancestry. They fool no one but themselves.

Americans cling to historical bigotries longer than they should, but we eventually get it right as a nation.

The tide against “Redskins” has been turning for a while. Late night television mocks Snyder’s insistence that a racial epithet is immutable. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoked protection of the “disparaging” name and logo. Fifty U.S. Senators signed a letter urging a new name.

Pressure will grow. It cannot be long until the other NFL owners turn on Snyder. The league rarely tolerates this sort of distraction, especially if it starts to cut into profits.

Redskins defenders call the attack on their beloved team name political correctness run amuck. Rather, it is political correctness exactly where it should be. In a civilized, multicultural society, we should not tolerate a racial slur serving as the mascot for a sports team whether in the NFL or the local high school division.

One can have a reasonable discussion about names like “Indians,” “Seminoles” and even “Braves.” They are not the same sort of slur. “Redskins” is a term whose sole purpose is to belittle a people.

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Humans are particularly adept at inventing slurs that reduce people to nothing more than a single physical, religious or ethnic characteristic. It’s so much easier to see only hebes, wops, wetbacks and yellow Chinamen. When a person is just a slur, he or she is no longer worthy of consideration. Unique personalities, hopes and dreams cease to matter.

Del. Ramadan is the most surprising member of Virginia’s Racist Pride Caucus. He moved to the United States from Lebanon as a child and graduated from a high school in Beirut. I wonder if he’d feel the same way about the Washington Hajji or Towel Heads with suitably racist logos.

Slurs like “Redskins” are acceptable in neither polite society nor professional sports. The holdouts embarrass the rest of us. In most of the country, Washington football apologists are the racist uncles that we try to keep from talking too much in mixed company because we know it’s only a matter of time before they drop the n-word.

In Virginia, they are lawmakers with a podium and too much time on their hands.

Update (June 25, 9:10 a.m.): The Redskins Caucus is growing. It now has 17 Republicans and five Democrats as members, including Sen. Minority Leader Dick Saslaw. Only in Virginia.


Christian Trejbal is a freelance writer and editor based in Portland, Ore. Overcoming graduate degrees in philosophy, he worked as an editorial writer at The (Bend) Bulletin and The Roanoke Times for more than a decade. He serves as open government chairman and a member of the board of directors of the Association of Opinion Journalists. Follow him on Twitter @ctrejbal.

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  • BillFromDover

    I’ve always wondered what was up with the corn-on-the-cob teeth and the shifty eyes… not to mention the proverbial feather.

    And this is when I was 12.

    If this ain’t offensive to native Americans , I don’t know what is.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Nobody got offended ‘all of a sudden’. They were always offended, but just not particularly organized, or in any position to do anything about it. The National Congress of American Indians started their campaign to eliminated negative stereotyping of Native Americans in the 1940s. They sought to work with groups to improve relations, but as the civil rights movement evolved, and the bigots didn’t move an inch, they moved on to other more overt methods to get their point across.

    Society changes. Things that were once racially acceptable no longer are.

  • BillFromDover

    Hey.

    If ya have to drop the pejorative but need keep a slur, why not simply change the name to The Washington Congress?

  • BillFromDover

    …congresspersons?

  • BillFromDover

    Yes and yes.

  • Connie Chastain

    Since the 1970s. Why did they get offended all of a sudden in the 1970s? The Redskins were established in Boston in 1932. What, the name wasn’t offensive for the first FORTY FLIPPIN’ YEARS? And then all of a sudden it was?

  • Connie Chastain

    Are all of you PC people blind to the fact that what you complain about, re: “minorities” etc., also occurs to Caucasians, European descendants, or whatever you wish to call them? They’re by no means protected. They’re ridiculed, made the butt of jokes, lied about, etc., And virtually always without complaint. Laurel and Hardy, Snuffy Smith, Ralph Kramden, Boss Hogg, Sutt Lovingood… and on and on and on. You leftist complainers have too much time on your hands and skin that’s way too thin.

  • Connie Chastain

    “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” is a paraphrase of the quote attributed to barbaric Union general Philip Sheridan. The actual quote is, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” Note, Sheridan was a general in the damnyankee army in the CIVIL WAR, which occurred several generations AFTER colonization. Also note that European settlers also MARRIED Indians. Read Bob Blankenship’s Cherokee Roots (he’s a Cherokee, by the way). He says there are millions of Americans today with Cherokee blood because of those marriages. Love your politically motivated tunnel vision there, Bill Perdue.

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  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Of course, none of this is new. Despite it seemingly just gaining national news status recently. Native American advocacy groups have been filing lawsuits and peacefully protesting outside stadiums since the early 1970s. Racists have been ignoring them, threatening them, settling lawsuits, equivocating, and making up excuses for their bigotry… as bigots are wont to do.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Reducing ANY group of people — whether it’s ethnicity, national origin, or some other characteristic — to a stereotyped mascot is inherently offensive.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    There have been multiple lawsuits to get them to change the logo, many of which they settled out of court without ever actually agreeing to change anything. The first time there was a high dollar suit against them, the advocacy group that brought the suit was inundated with hate mail and threats from team fans.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey
  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Waaaaaay past time.

  • http://trejbal.net/opinion/ Chris Trejbal

    As a Cleveland native, I hate to admit it, but Guest is right. Chief Wahoo should go.

  • therling

    I think it’s time the Cleveland Indians got rid of this:

  • Guest

    I think it’s also time for the Cleveland Indians to get rid of this:

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    You mean they don’t drive really little cars in the Middle East?

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    Forgetting about the morally right thing to do for a moment, these idiots don’t recognize that they have an opportunity to make a lot of money by launching a nationwide social media campaign/contest to rename the team, creating immediate brand recognition and possibly selling their newly-branded crap far outside of their usual regionally-targeted market.

    In the meantime, if it isn’t too offensive, someone who is more creative than me should be creating more realistic ‘Redskins’ logos, showing the colonists murdering, enslaving and torturing the proud ‘redskin.’ Make the faces of the colonists the team owner, etc.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The racist rant that “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” epitomizes the attitudes and the actions of European settlers since colonization began. Spreading out from Atlantic trading forts Europeans brought with them filth, pollution, disease, slavery, land theft and wars of extermination.

    When that strategy didn’t work and native nations rallied and began to thrive they were robbed of thier lands and forced onto reservations – concentration camps – on badlands and forced to endure the ‘reeducation’ of their children by racist christers.

    Today the native nations are fighting to preserve their heritage and to carve out a measure of independence and respect. “Political activist Russell Means, a founder of the American Indian Movement, says he and other members of Lakota tribes have renounced treaties and are withdrawing from the United States. “We are now a free country and independent of the United States of America,” … Means said a Lakota delegation on Monday delivered a statement of “unilateral withdrawal” from the United States to the U.S. State Department in Washington. The State Department did not respond.”

    When will the racists be treated as criminals. Never, as long as the government and the courts are owned by those who benefit from the strategy of divide and rule. This is one of the many questions, like putting an end to racist, misogynist and homophobic violence and the hate speech that causes the violence, that will only be solved by political independence from the twin parties of bigotry and the creation of workers parties and a workers state.

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  • nicho

    While we’re in the general subject of racism, has anyone seen a Shriners’ parade lately. If haven’t, but the last time I did, it was an hour and a half of mocking Arabs and Muslims. Are they still doing that?

  • Indigo

    Honkies for hokum?

  • The_Fixer

    Yes, it’s well past time for this team to change its name. Throughout history, the Native American imagery has been used in advertising and for mascots. Richie Plass, a Menominee Stockbridge/Munsee Indian has long collected and exhibited such imagery, and I had an opportunity to see it. It’s quite an extensive collection and it is quite eye-opening. He’s also been one of the most vocal anti-mascot activists.

    He also says that such imagery is used for one purpose – to make money. Here he is talking about the the phenomena of using Native American imagery in advertising and as sports mascots in 2008, and he mentions the Redskins.

    One thing he counters is the notion that Native Americans are presented in a positive light – as “Brave Warriors” and such when their images are used in team names and as mascots. He says it’s not true – “We got our asses kicked” – and history shows that to be the case.

    I can’t believe that this is even up for debate. This “Redskins Pride Caucus” is at best a misguided effort, at worst another lame attempt by bigots to justify their prejudice.

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