Target: Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder
Goal: Change offensive football team name
Ten members of Congress recently made a bipartisan plea to Dan Snyder (owner of the Washington, D.C. based pro football team, the Washington Redskins) to change the name of the team to something less offensive to Native Americans. In the words of their letter, the members of Congress stated that “Native Americans throughout the country consider the ‘R-word’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos.” Indeed, there is little doubt that a team nickname so offensive to other racial or religious groups would never be tolerated—and yet, for the only the race native to this country, despicable tradition abides. Given the long-suffering history of Native Americans in this country, and their unique claim to this land, this racist name is especially wrong.
In the past, Snyder has repeatedly insisted that he will never change the team’s name or its mascot. He has received requests for a team name change not only from members of Congress, but from Washington, D.C. city leaders and from various representatives of Native American tribes—and yet he has claimed that the National Football League team’s “tradition” trumps all such requests. Even a cursory glance at the history of the Washington Redskins lays bare the fallacy of appealing to “tradition,” as it was the last NFL team to integrate in 1962. Please sign the petition below to ensure that Snyder will not keep his team rooted in a shameful past as his predecessors did on the issue of racial integration.
Dear Dan Snyder,
I would like to join the voices of ten members of Congress who have urged you to change the name of your team from the “Redskins.” I understand that you are first and foremost a businessman, and I believe it is in the interest of both your public image and your bottom line that you embrace this name change. Given the long and harrowed history of Native Americans in the past of this country, you can surely understand the insensitivity that using the name “Redskins” entails.
On numerous occasions you have expressed your stubborn refusal to change the name of your team, but I ask you to reconsider. You claim to respect the tradition of your team, but your own team’s history teaches that tradition is not always a positive, given that Washington was the last team to integrate racially. Do not emulate George Preston Marshall, the civil rights era Redskins owner who refused to integrate until public pressure forced him to—instead, lead the way rather than follow the wave of public opinion. The professional football team whose ownership you have inherited has a proud legacy of greatness; a legacy that should not be tarnished by a team name that is so offensive to Native Americans.
[Your Name Here]
Photocredit: Keith Allison via Flickr