Matt Lewis

If the Washington Redskins change their name [updated]

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

As a rule, I oppose giving in to politically correct demands.

The Bullets shouldn’t have become the Wizards. And there’s a good case to be made that names like Braves, Warriors, Fighting Sioux, or Chiefs actually honor Native Americans.

This is a harder sell for the Washington Redskins to make. And recently, there has been a renewed call for the Redskins to change their name.

Brands are important, and the Redskins are one of the most storied franchises in NFL history. It would be a shame (not to mention, bad for business) to cast aside this winning image and tradition of excellence.

So here’s my proposal: If the name change becomes inevitable, let’s call them the “Washington Hogs” — in honor of the great offensive line.

Keep the burgundy and gold, and come up with a tough-looking wild boar logo. Maybe even have him (or her) wearing a feather — for old time sake?

Just think of all the new jerseys they can sell…

UPDATE: A smart reader sends me this:

I enjoy your work, but for heavens sakes, man, there is no need for you to join the lefty pile-on re: the Redskins.

 

As I see it, this is nothing more than a hobby-horse for the perpetual-grievance crowd, along with some self-righteous reporters (but I repeat myself).

 

It’s long been a pet peeve of mine, this increasingly aggressive left-wing drift among the sports media.

 

I first noticed it during the Bush years, when it seemed like the sports reporters were insecure about their own subject matter (covering children’s games for a living), and they basically wanted to seem as “important” as their newsroom brethren, so they went out of their way to drive home the message of “see, see!  I’m a good person too!  See how much I hate Bush!”

 

Mitch Albom, Peter King, that hack from Kansas City who shows up on the Sports Reporters from time to time, Mike Lupica, etc.  These days, it’s Bob Costas.

 

Anyways, since the Redskins can’t defend their name any more than they can improve Dan Snyder’s image (step one would be to actually try, but they dont), i’ll do it myself.

 

Below, i’ve linked to the most exhaustive, comprehensive, and fair scientific study regarding the word “Redskin.”

 

http://valhalla.law.und.nodak.edu/LawReview/issues/web_assets/pdf/86/86-4/86NDLR879.pdf

 

Excerpted is the decisive section (bolding is mine):

 

” . . .an extensive debate occurred regarding the question of whether the term “Redskin” was particularly offensive to Native Americans, and, if so, whether it had always been so. The evidence suggests the term was not initially perceived as derogatory. A highly regarded study by Ives Goddard, a senior linguist in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of History’s Department of Anthropology, has demonstrated the term “redskin” originated as a translation from Native American languages. The term was used by Native Americans for themselves, and throughout the nineteenth century, the term was essentially neutral when used by whites, reflecting neither a par-ticularly positive or particularly negative connotation.”

 

The study goes on in detail about how:

 

1.  Redskins was a tie-in with “Red Sox — the team was based in Boston back then (perhaps an early version of cross-marketing).

 

2.  The first coach hired by George Preston Marshall was of native american stock himself.  He designed the “chief” logo we still know today.  he recruited many native american players for the 1932 squad.

 

3.  There was a popular silent film in 1929 “Redskins,” which is apparently a sympathetic, pro-Native bit of storytelling.

 

4.  Reliable polls show a broad agreement among Native Americans that, in a manner of speaking, “they’re cool with the Washington Redskins.”

 

On top of all this, in the 60s, a well-regarded Indian activist from South Dakota complained to the Redskins that they were abandoning their native imagery (this was when they had the gold helmets with just the “R” on the side).  His concerns were addressed when the team went with the arrow-head logo shortly thereafter.