Washington Redskins Defend Name

Posted on 07/21/2014 by John Poland CEO, Town Hall Foundation

The Washington Redskins football team has run into trouble with their name. Fifty Senators sent a letter to the team expressing their displeasure with the term “Redskins”. Some Indian tribal leaders have complained that the term is disparaging and should be dropped. Other Indian tribal leaders do not see the conflict. In any case, the issue is front and center in the news media.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six trademark registrations owned by the Washington NFL club, ruling that the term "Redskins" was disparaging to "a substantial composite" of American Indians when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990.

Apparently, even though the trademarks have been in place for almost half a century, the Government body used a test of approximately 30% who deem the term disparaging is sufficient. They believe, without any data, this to be the case today and took action against the team.

The political and societal ramifications are at the surface of this debate. The THF does NOT have an opinion on the debate but does take note of the debate.

When we consider our history and culture, many national groups had/have disparaging nicknames: Polish Americans were called Polack’s, Spanish Americans were called Spics, Chinese Americans were called Chinks/Coolie, Italians were called Dego’s, the French were called Frogs, White Americans were called Honky’s, American Jews were called Hymie’s, American Japanese were called Japs, British Americas were called Limey’s, Irish American’s were called Paddy’s, American Arabs or Indian Sikhs were called Ragheads, Southern laborer-class Americans were called Rednecks, and the list goes on. And who can forget the non-ethnic words such as: fatty, baldy, geek, greaser, dumb blonde, and that list goes on.

This is a confusing issue and does not have an easy answer. Remember when we were taught, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me”? In today’s world of political correctness, words do as much damage as the stones.

But when you consider that all of the above have been considered as disparaging at a point in time in the past, possibly today or will be in the future; why do we continue to condone the use of the “N” word and all its variants as acceptable by music artists?? A Federal District Court in 2013 ruled that the use of the “N” word from an African American employer to an African American employee was disparaging and awarded over $300K in the case.

The RIAA, Record Industry Association of America, represents music artists and their rights under the First Amendment. They may be legally right but not morally right. The THF must lean forward and take the case to the people and allow them to make informed decisions.

Please support our efforts to protect our kids. That’s the message for today, more coming.