February 14, 2013


Living in Washington is weird. National news is our local news and our local news outlets are mediocre at best as a result. Jim Vance is one of the most trusted, well-respected news guys around, though. So when he once again questioned the appropriateness of our beloved football franchise's name, people listened.

My revulsion was borne of a source perhaps different than many others. You see, back in the day, when I wasn’t scanning the paper to see what Roy Campanella or Buddy Young had done, I was watching Lash LaRue, and Tim Holt, and I loved me some Randolph Scott. And it was in those Westerns and so many more – all of ‘em – that I NEVER, not once, EVER, heard of a Redskin referred to respectfully. A Redskin was always dirty – ‘dirty Redskins’ – bloody – ‘bloody Redskins.’ Savage Redskins, inhuman Redskins. Unhuman. You name it.

Back in the day, if you really wanted to insult a black man and attack a Jew, an Irishman, and probably start a fight, you threw out certain words. You know what they are. They were and they are pejoratives of the first order, the worst order, specifically intended to injure. In my view, ‘Redskin’ was, and is, in that same category.

A few years back, I decided to stop using the name on the air. Went at it for almost a year. George Michael bet me nobody would even notice. I had to pay up. We got not a single question or complaint. People just assumed I must have used the word. It is that much a part of the D.C. culture.

That notwithstanding, the name sucks. We need to get rid of it.

I'm no fan of political correctness for the sake of political correctness. It seems like we've taken political correctness to nearly competitive levels in this country. I think it's how we as a society feel better about being so rude and apathetic. It would probably be easier just to be nice. I'm also not a huge football fan. This is, perhaps, the first time in the ten year history of Rude Cactus that I've written about the NFL. Taken together, this is a pretty unusual post.

But Jim Vance is right. The name sucks. It needs to change.

Posted by Chris at February 14, 2013 7:56 AM

They've tried to get rid of it calling it out at the trademark office, but unfortunately you can't trademark the name for a chocolate rooster-shaped lollipop "cocksucker", but you can go ahead and say racial epithets all you want.

Posted by: alektra at February 14, 2013 8:44 AM

I have such strong feelings about this...went to a university with "Indian" as the mascot and there was a historical connection/reason for it. The NCAA got involved and long story short, we changed our mascot. I am so proud of my university...I love our new mascot and I feel we still honor traditions that do have value to alumni.
I also agree with you 100% on how far political correctness is out of control. That being said,I call bullsh*t on the NCAA and the NFL. The NCAA made my school and others a target for a PC campaign and then does not bother to hold a school like Florida State accountable to the same standards. They are the Seminoles so they get to keep their mascot! WTH? (And yes, part of the appeal process with the NCAA involved my school and others opting to vote in a specific tribe...what's good for the goose after all.) Except, our football team does not play nationally televised games. And that's the crux, if you ask me. Whether Washington or FSU, there is too much money, too much recognition, and too little desire to change. It's a bad combination and it will take a lot more Jim Vance types to make any kind of difference.
Sorry for a soapbox rant, but the name does need to change! ;)

Posted by: Amy at February 14, 2013 10:00 AM

My kids' high school's nickname is the Cherokees, has been since I was a rival Wildcat and longer, but their mascot is now a raven. They are *called* the Cherokees, but they *look like* ravens. Half assed, much? Anyway, their old mascot, who strode onto the field at halftime, was a majestic young man (yeah, probably not Native American) in a beautiful feathered headdress and associated clothes that made us seethe with envy (our mascots looked like family pets and one of them wore Goofy slippers because the wildcat feet had been lost at some point). I guess I get where Native Americans are coming from when they object to this kind of thing. Never having been oppressed, it's hard for me to be empathetic. Redskins is pretty lame, though. I'm not a fan of perjoratives as a general rule. My stepson trotted out "Japs" the other day like it was just another word for "Japanese". Where these kids hear this stuff, I do not know.

Posted by: Brooke at February 14, 2013 2:42 PM

I concur.

Posted by: Heather at February 14, 2013 3:37 PM

Like Amy posted above, we have a local university nearby who were the braves. The name of the university (back then college) was the NAME of the tribe! Quinnipiac Braves. They had a big stink and changed their name to Tigers(?).
It was so idiotic because the college is situated ON the land that the Quinnipiac Indians roamed.
I think it was more insulting to change the name than to keep it.

Posted by: NancyB at February 14, 2013 7:06 PM