Redskins: What’s in a Name Anyway?

Redskinsby Leigh Bravo   7/1/14
The Washington Redskins lost their trademark after a federal agency ruled that the football team’s name was “disparaging to Native Americans.”  •  In October of 2013, President Obama made statements regarding the Washington Redskins:

“If I were the owner of the team, and I knew that the name of my team, even if they’ve had a storied history, that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

What is the definition of “sizeable”?

A poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 90% of Native Americans were not offended by the name “Redskins” while only 9% said they found the name offensive.

What does losing your trademark mean?  Basically, it does not require that the Redskins change the name of their football team. It means that they no longer will have exclusive rights to that name. Therefore, anyone, including vendors, football fans, t-shirt makers, etc., will have the right to sell products under the Redskins name and logo without the team’s permission.  Does losing the trademark solve the problem? Does it satisfy those who oppose, if the team name itself is not changed? Is losing the trademark just a financial punishment by government or a show of power and control?

What about other teams such as the Florida State Seminoles, the Utah Utes, the Cleveland Indians or the Atlanta Braves?  Tribes themselves endorsed the two college team mascots, therefore protecting their trademarks. In 1947, Florida State University made their mascot the Florida State Seminoles. In the 1980’s when Native American names became controversial, the University consulted with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and with the approval of a few representatives of the tribe, they were given an exemption even though other state Seminole tribes disagreed. Is that fair?

Senator Harry Reid said his state has 22 tribes and that the only tradition behind the Redskins’ name was one of racism. However, he has failed to condemn the Red Mesa High School “Redskins” in his district whose entire student population is Navajo Indian.

This is an interesting point that has received very little attention, but the fact is there are many schools on Reservations with Native American Mascots.  So if they find Native American mascots offensive, then why would they give their own team mascots a Native American name?

Adrian Jawort is a freelance journalist, writer and poet and a lifelong resident of Montana as well as a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. He wrote a wonderful article, titled, “Redskins Not So Black and White.”  In it he says,

I can’t help but think how the banning of all Native American-related mascots would go over in my home state of Montana. It’d undoubtedly be ironic seeing as the reservation schools have names like the Browning and Lodge Grass Indians, the Heart Butte and Pryor Warriors, as well as the off-reservation but predominately Northern Cheyenne attended school of the St. Labre Braves just to mention a few. Go figure, the Navajo school in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona is called the Red Mesa Redskins, and there’s a 2002 Chris Eyre film that takes place on the Pine Ridge Reservation called “Skins.” And although I don’t believe the redskins and scalp theory was contrived with devious intent, remember, in the study of history, one should not let their own passions of today override existing facts of the past just because they don’t fit our own modern version of political correctness.

If you bought a sports team or you started a new business, would you give it a name that you and others considered disparaging? Or would you give it a name of honor?

Currently the United States Patent and Trademark Office has over 600 active trademarks that feature Native American men and women. So are all these other patents not considered disparaging to Native Americans?

Are they planning on cancelling all these patents?

What if your name is your identity? How will that affect your business?

If you have a successful business that has been around for 20 years, 50 years, 75 years, will you lose business if you are forced to change your name because someone or some group finds it offensive? Who will be the judge of what is offensive?

Recently, we have seen many examples of words that are now no longer “politically correct” and if used, you could be classified as a racist, a bigot, a homophobe or a multitude of other “politically correct” names. Here is a list of some of my favorites from the Global Language Monitor:

*”Peanut Butter Sandwich”: A Portland grade school principal found it to be culturally insensitive to children of other cultures.

*”Normal”: Normal persons in the presence of people with disabilities should now be referred to as “non-disabled persons.”

*”Pet Owner”: We should not be able to “own” pets, so we are now “pet guardians”

*”Dutch Treat”: Offensive to the Dutch, since it portrays them as either thrifty or stingy.

*”Swine Flu”: insensitive to pigs

*”Holding down the fort”: offensive to Native Americans, since we all know who the forts were being held down against.

In the state of Washington, governor Inslee recently signed legislation requiring the state to rewrite its laws using gender-neutral vocabulary.

Terms such as “fishermen” and “freshman” are now “fisher” and “first year student,” “penmanship” is now “handwriting.”  The real estate market wants to phase out the term “master bedroom.” How ridiculous is this becoming? Soon enough, we will be forced to re-write the entire Webster’s Dictionary, because someone will be able to find something offensive or “politically incorrect” with every word in it.  When is enough, enough? When will it stop?

Should the President of the United States get involved with law suits over trademark names? Should the President have the power to use an agency to interfere in the free market system for one individual group while ignoring others doing the same?  Can the government at their whim, decide who can keep a name and who cannot? Who is the judge of what is offensive and what is not? How many people have to be “offended” for your business to be forced to change its name?  One? Ten? Two thousand?

A Native American group associated with the Chiricahua Apache is planning on filing a federal lawsuit against the Cleveland Indians. They are asking for $9 billion dollars. Will money solve the problem?

These cases are currently in the court system, where they should be. Washington and government have no place in this argument. Doesn’t this administration have enough on its plate dealing with unemployment, terrorism threats, the invasion of our borders, IRS targeting, to name just a few…..?

I recently saw a poster on Facebook by  #ObamaShutdown that said,

“If I was Dan Snyder, I would remove “Washington” from the Redskins name out of embarrassment!”

Now that makes much more sense to me!
Leigh Bravo blogs at The Trumpet. • (1314 views)

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6 Responses to Redskins: What’s in a Name Anyway?

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, we can wonder how many times Obama has welshed on a deal (a pejorative about the inhabitants of Cymry, and I heard that the Black Queen actually complained that someone had gypped her (a pejorative about the Roma). Note that in addition to complaining about the Redskins and other Amerind mascots (which are not in any way pejorative names), at least one of the Professional Aggrieved recently complained about military use of Indian names (such as Apache and Chinook helicopters and Tomahawk missiles).

    Apparently most Indians have no problem with “Redskins”, the exceptions tending to be those who are more connected to white society — in other words, those most in touch with liberal Professional Victim status. Combine those with liberals who are Professionally Outraged, and you have all the pressure you need to persuade all other professional liberals (if there are any not in those groups) to join in the campaign.

  2. Rosalys says:

    I am very, very offended by Obama’s presence in the White House, his trashing of the Constitution and the rule of law, and his repeated and unrelenting attacks on Western civilization! I’ll bet that a lot more than 9% of the population of the United States are also offended – to say nothing of a fair number of Brits and a few other European types sprinkled about (after all, a few Supremes think that what Europeans think is very, very important!) Who cares about majorities? Who cares about laws? I am offended! Let’s get rid of the guy!

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And while we’re at it, I’m offended by the existence of liberals, particularly their viciousness, gross mendacity, and persistent hate-mongering. I’m especially offended by feminist hysterics who want us to “keep off their ovaries” (which no sensible person wants to have anything to do with) while simultaneously insisting that we pay for whatever they can manage to do with them. Hey, this is fun!

  3. Rosalys says:

    As for insensitivity to pigs (Swine Flu) – I am all in favor of removing this offense by removing the offended. I am particularly fond of pork.

    But peanut butter sandwich? I heard about that one on the radio and try as I might I cannot, simply cannot understand the convoluted reasoning behind that one! But I am not upset by an inability to understand the thought processes of the insane. Instead I find comfort in it.

    As an aside, on a recent flight across the country and then back again I was glad to see that Southwest has moved beyond the peanut hysteria and is now offering them again as a snack item.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As far as I can recall, the idea that people from cultures that didn’t eat peanut butter sandwiches might feel left out. Remember, they don’t need to have any such people actually complain (the Patent and Trademark office acted without receiving a single complaint). The whole point for the Professional Outraged is to find things to be Angry about, and if no one else shares their anger, that just shows how superior they are.

  4. libertymark says:

    Very telling that a recent FOIA request shows that no one – not a single person – filed a complaint with the patent office to generate their current decision to suspend the patent. This was a unilateral decision by Leviathan to harass the Redskin franchise.

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