It’s not The New York Times or even the magazine’s big brother the Washington Post, but we have to give it up to Slate for taking an editorial stand against the “Redskins” moniker.
In an article published this morning titled “The Washington ______” writer David Plontz detailed the magazine’s decision to refer to the team as “Washington’s NFL team” from this day forward. Plontz said that while the team name was “only a bit offensive,” it was also “tacky and outdated,” since no new team would ever choose to call themselves the Redskins in this day and age.
The most salient passage:
At the time the team was named, America was barely a generation past the Indian Wars, and at the beginning of the golden age of the Western. American Indians were powerful symbolically, but had a limited role in American public life. The 80 years since have witnessed the triumph of the civil rights movement and a powerful effort by American Indians to reclaim their identity and win self-determination.
Americans think differently about race and the language of race than we did 80 years ago. We now live in a world, for instance, in which it’s absolutely unacceptable for an NFL player to utter a racial slur. Changing the way we talk is not political correctness run amok. It reflects an admirable willingness to acknowledge others who once were barely visible to the dominant culture, and to recognize that something that may seem innocent to you may be painful to others. In public discourse, we no longer talk about groups based on their physical traits: No one would ever refer to Asians as yellow-skinned. This is why the majority of teams with Indian nicknames have dropped them over the past 40 years.
The whole article is worth a read, as it does a great job explaining the team’s decisions within the context of greater American history. It’s also an impressive choice from an editorial standpoint, though the magazine’s own coverage of sports is admittedly “sporadic.”
Dan Synder, what do you need to hear to convince you that “Washington Robert Griffin III’s” is just a better choice? Trust us — history looks back much kinder on those who changed their minds than on those who stuck to their inconsiderate beliefs.
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