Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Redskins name-blaming and the joy of taking offense

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Dear Matt, 

Any truth to recent reports that Iron Eyes Cody was shedding a tear not over pollution but due to a passing motorist with a Washington Redskins car flag? Or is this just a convenient attempt at revisionist history? I’ll hang up and listen. –  Ramon H. 

If Iron Eyes is pitching his teepee in these parts, my guess is he was crying over rush-hour traffic on 395, or maybe the new speed camera that tagged me under the same overpass not once, but three times in the same week, due to the commuter-mugging pickpockets who oversee the D.C. government. But God forbid I should make light of the latest outrage du-jour, the purportedly racist name of our fair city’s 2-4 powerhouse.

Not to play the part of the jaded old-timer, but personally, I had a lot more sympathy during the days when Iron Eyes Cody’s people had something real to cry about, like Indian massacres, bad eminent domain takings, or the land getting despoiled by rapacious developers and litterbugs. If he were still around nowadays, he’d probably shed a tear over the silliness of the Oneida Nation’s manufactured controversy.

I don’t particularly care to weigh in definitively on whether the Redskins should or shouldn’t change their name. Why would I need to, when everybody and their idiot brother-in-law already has? Even our president decided to take a breather from our government collapsing, the public trust eroding, and the Obamacare rollout spectacularly failing in order to squeeze in some much-needed pandering (he’s for changing the name, not surprisingly, even as some Redskins-supporting tribes accused him of speaking with forked tongue).  

Of course, as a Cowboys fan, a part of me would enjoy seeing Washington’s name changed to something more appropriate, like the Washington Foreskins.  While the libertarian in me holds that a name change is between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his God (or as Snyder would likely put it, “between me and me,” since he tends to regard himself as such). I personally hate name changes, as I think team names, even if unintentionally, tend to reflect the character of their region. In the mid ‘80s, I was briefly a ball boy for the Washington Bullets, before the powers that be worried they’d offend murder victims (hard to, since they were already dead) and changed their name to the ridiculous “Wizards.” As any suburban Marylander knew at the time, heading into crack-ravaged Prince George’s County, where the Bullets then played, you were liable to encounter a real-life version of the team mascot through your car window. The name, then, gave us a hard-earned sense of civic pride. Similarly, the Redskins are a healthy reminder of the people we took this country from.