Morrissey: Redskins nickname needs to go. Now!
BY RICK MORRISSEY Staff Columnist June 18, 2014 11:53AM
An Oneida Indian Nation Representative speaks at a press conference after meeting with senior officials of the National Football League about changing the mascot name of the Washington Redskins in New York in 2013. | Getty Images
Updated: June 18, 2014 4:45PM
When are we going to get it through our heads? The only thing that matters is what Native Americans want. What a filthy rich owner of a sports team and its nostalgic fan base want is inconsequential.
That’s where this issue starts and ends, and mostly what we’ve heard over the years is that American Indians don’t want the nickname “Redskins’’ anywhere near Washington and the NFL.
Why would they? It’s as derogatory as calling someone “darky” or “towel head.’’
We should always defer to the group that is being reduced to a caricature, and a deferring is exactly what the U.S. Patent Office did Wednesday. In ruling that the franchise’s federal trademarks for the name “Redskins” be canceled, it called the use of the nickname “disparaging of Native Americans.’’
It’s time for Washington owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of the team. It was time when he bought the franchise in 1999.
Maybe he could change the nickname to the “Tone Deaf Billionaires.’’
Wednesday’s action by the U.S. Patent Office simply tightens the screw a little tighter on Snyder, who has dug in his heels, even as he rides around in his $400,000 Maybach, which I’m guessing he would tell you cost a lot of wampum. The ruling means that the franchise might not be able to stop others from making money off the nickname.
It doesn’t matter if Washington fans want to keep the name. It doesn’t matter if Washington fans believe the name is a term of respect.
The nickname doesn’t honor Native Americans if they don’t feel honored by it. The rest of us can’t tell them what they should feel good about. We can’t tell them that “Redskins’’ is a noble term when decades of discrimination and depravation tells them something entirely different.
Some of you might bring up the Blackhawks nickname and the iconic Indian head on the sweater. Why no uproar about that? Again, it comes back to what American Indians think. I haven’t heard much in the way of protest about the nickname from any native groups. If there were to be, then we could have a discussion. Offhand, neither the name nor the caricature seems offensive. It doesn’t seem to be in the same ballpark as the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo. But sitting here as a white, middle-aged man, what do I know?
Snyder should have asked himself the same question a long time ago.