I was among the thousands of journalists to get an email this week from the Oneida Tribe and the National Congress of American Indians asking our radio station to no longer use the term "Redskins" in reference to the Washington NFL football team. The Tribe and the Congress maintain that there is "no objectivity" in the use of the name--because any mention serves as an "endorsement" of the term.
I have used this forum in the past to voice my own disdain for the Redskins name and mascot. Unlike "Chiefs", "Braves", "Warriors", "Indians" and tribal names like "Blackhawks" and "Sioux", "Redskins" has no non-racist connotations and is certainly not a part of our normal vernacular. I also think that team owner Dan Snyder is a bozo who deserves all of the criticism that comes his way. But to pretend like the name doesn't exist--or to use "replacement terms" like "The Washington Football Team"--does nothing to change the fact that the team mascot is "Redskins".
Some TV announcers have publicly stated that they will not use the name during their broadcasts. But the Indianhead logo will still be on all the helmets and at midfield. The word "Redskins" will be painted in both of the endzones and plastered on walls surrounding the field. After every score the crowd will still be heard singing "Hail to the Redskins". So unless you plan to digitally blur all of the visual reminders--and mute the non-broadcaster sound coming from the stadium, viewers are still going to be reminded that it's the Redskins.
What I find most interesting is that during a broadcast of Pardon the Interruption on ESPN this week, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon--two men who will never be hosting their own shows on Fox News Network--continuously referred to the team as "The Redskins". These are two very liberal men--who live and work right in Washington DC--who referenced the name nine times in four minutes. Why? Because they are also reporters--and the fact of the matter is: that is the team name--whether they like it or not.
This isn't the first time the "Language Police" have tried to circumvent facts with "creative language". The Associated Press StyleBook--the "go-to guide" for word usage and spellings of everything appearing in the media--issued the ultimatum that "illegal immigrant" is to no longer be used to describe those who sneak into the country. That might make those folks and those who wish to aid their lawbreaking feel good, but it still doesn't change the FACTS that they are not originally from this country--making them "immigrants"--and that they did not follow proper immigration policy and procedure--meaning they are here "illegally".
Of course, if we don't call them that anymore, will that make them go away too?