Saturday, May 11, 2013

HAIL TO THE WASHINGTON #@*!*%



Here’s my view on this “Redskins” controversy.

First, I’m torn because I absolutely agree that the term “redskin” is pejorative.  To use the analogy, I wouldn’t want to support a professional team named the “Washington Sambos.”  However, there’s a reality to this story that’s not being talked about much. 

First, I think there is a degree of disingenuousness and hypocrisy by Native Americans, and by other American “minorities,” particularly by African Americans.  I have no doubt that over time—as soon as the first “pale face” spoke the words “red skin”—that it became a slur against Native Americans.  I wonder…when Native Americans first learned English, was the term “white man” used innocuously, or did it soon have a “racial” bite?  I’ll bet that in those early days of American colonialism and settling the “wild, wild west,” calling Native American Indians “redskins” didn’t exactly have the same context (at first) as when American culture referred to Asians as “yellow,” or Hispanics as “brown,” or how in the antebellum South, “blacks” was used equally negative to describe Americans of African descent.  But it is a fact that many Native American Indian tribes used face paint for many purposes—religious, celebrations, and in war.  Many cultures around the world use body paint for similar reasons, but early American settlers in the west, who first encountered hostile Indian tribes, would naturally (in ignorance or fear) refer to their painted attackers as “red-skinned.”  Is that were the word comes from?  Did that quickly become a slur in the lexicon of the white man?  Of course.  I’m not trying to argue that Native Americans brought this on themselves, I’m just saying the term has a basis in historical fact.  And while it definitely falls squarely in the same class as “nigger,” “kike,” “chink,” “slope,” “spick,” “honky,” “cracker,” or any other racial slur, I see “redskin” a little differently.

Second, I bristle at my African American friends who join the argument against the Washington Redskins logo, while justifying the proliferation of the word “nigga” as a term of endearment.  And don’t feed me this bullshit that “nigga” is DIFFERENT from “nigger.”  Some Blacks wholly embrace the term “nigga,” and the entertainment industry has made its use extremely profitable for both hip hop artists, and their white producers, agents, and sponsors.  I won’t even go into how much Hollywood enriches itself by the financial exploitation of all of these terms SOLELY for their pejorative connotation!

(Quick quiz:  Do you know what an “apple” is?  It’s a Native American slur used against other Native Americans to describe a person who’s “red” on the outside, but “white” on the inside.  Hmmmm…)

When the NCAA declared that all member schools had to change their mascots and team names that evoked these racially divisive terms (“Chiefs,” “Redmen,” “Braves,” “Warriors,” “Illini,” etc.), they gave a pass to Notre Dame (the “Irish”) and especially to the Florida State “Seminoles,” who still proudly (and legally) display their painted-face Indian head logo.  The Seminole Nation is split on this topic—Oklahoma Seminoles hate it, while Florida Seminoles profit from it!  Yes, the word “redskin” is bad, but what’s to be said of 30,000 Atlanta Braves “fans” when they break out into that incessant tomahawk chop thing—are they as racist as Dan Schneider and his 90K singing fans when the team scores a touchdown?

When the Redskins moved from Boston (the “Boston Braves”), the wife of the owner (George Preston Marshall) wrote the lyrics to its now iconic fight song:

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!
Run or pass and score -- we want a lot more!
Beat 'em, Swamp 'em,
Touchdown! -- Let the points soar!
Fight on, fight on 'Til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old D.C.!

But the original lyrics were (in CAPS):

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old DIXIE!
Run or pass and score -- we want a lot more!
SCALP 'EM, SWAMP 'EM -- WE WILL TAKE 'EM BIG SCORE
READ 'EM, WEEP 'EM, TOUCHDOWN - WE WANT HEAP MORE
Fight on, Fight on -- 'Till you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton. Rah!, Rah!, Rah!
Hail to the Redskins!
Hail Victory!
Braves on the Warpath!
Fight for old DIXIE!

Did she write those words to openly demean Indians?  Did she use the term “redskin” in the same (racist) context as if the team were named the “Washington Sambos?”

Hail to the Sambos!
Hail Victory!
Coons on the Warpath!
Fight for old Dixie!
Run or pass and score -- we want a lot more!
Shuffle on a-long then mop the den floor.
Slave on, Slave on ‘till you are done
Shiftless, la-zy bums!  Rah!, Rah!, Rah!

What sense does that make?  None, and I argue that while the term “redskin” is certainly offensive (then and now), to argue that the Washington Redskins football club IS racist and the organization’s intent is to perpetuate racism, is just a plainly stupid argument.  (I mean, when was the last time, outside of Hollywood, that you heard anyone, ever, seriously refer to a Native American as a “redskin” in that context?  In 1938, it was just a mascot and had no more cultural meaning to the team than a “pirate” meant to Oakland or Pittsburgh.  But today, 2013, it’s a business—BIG business (take a look at how much money the NCAA makes on the sale of school logos).  The Redskin logo means billions in revenue to Dan Schneider, NBC, FedEx, and Landover, MD, just as that blood-thirsty, murderous pirate means jobs (and profits) to Oakland and Pittsburg.  Sure, Dan Schneider could have said he’d never change the name without capitalizing the word “never,” but by saying it that way, he’s putting all of us on notice that he’s not going to be pushed around, and from a business perspective I don’t blame him for the stance he’s taken.  (I think you’re a crappy owner, Danny, but I’m on your side on this issue!)  If the Redskins change their name, will I continue to support the team—hail to the...(uh, hell to the yeah)!  But I disagree with this particular “PC” snit.  The argument is out of context and is being personalized. 

And I’ll say this--I’ll bet you cash money that while they’re pissed off over this “redskin” thing, there are probably more than a few Native American Indians who bop their heads and sing along (openly) to Kanye’s hook:  Now I ain't sayin' she a gold digger, but she ain't messin' with no broke niggas!”

I’m just sayin’.  Okay:  Flame on!


3 comments:

Zebster said...

The whole thing, in my opinion, goes too far when it goes after nicknames like Braves and Chiefs; but in my opinion there's no point in keeping the Redskin nickname either. The NFL franchise in DC would be just as profitable without it, especially in our nation's capital.

R.J. said...

I miss the Washington Bullets. Wizards never did it for me.

We don't have a problem with Chiefs here on the Left Coast. We'd rather call the Kansas City team the Chumps when referring to them.

Snyder should change the team name. Do you know how much money teams make every time they roll out a new uniform? Everyone's gotta have the latest jerseys if they can afford them.

Brent said...

I am going to come down on the side of I hope they change the name, but I understand if they don't.

My hometown college team had to change their nickname because it was "offensive". It was a term used for Native Americans. But I didn't think that the "Tribe" was offensive. Some did. Maybe we need to stop being so offended by names and what they could convey instead of what the people in charge are saying what the nickname means.