Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lazy Sunday # 330: A Rose By Any Other Name…

The following statement…

“Go Redskins!”

…now means one of two things:

1. Yay team!


2. It’s time to leave.

I’m taking no side in this name debate. I’ve always been an Eagles fan. Except for the Michael Vick years…

But it’s still somewhat disconcerting that a team once lauded for having the first Black quarterback lead them to a Superbowl championship (Doug Williams 1988) is now considered an ugly symbol of American Racism.

This week several newspapers announced they would not use the team name in their sports pages due to its insensitive nature.

Among these was the Kansas City Star, whose own NFL team practises a form of cultural appropriation by being called the “Chiefs” and the Seattle Times where the home team has a logo appropriated from West Coast natives.

Also this week, the US Patent Office suspended the “Redskins” logo because it was (after seventy some years) discovered to be “disparaging to Native Americans”.

Have to say, there’s either a little hypocrisy or moral relativism at work there since the Patent office left alone brand names for “Uppity Negro”, “Cracker Azz Skateboards” and a whole bunch of companies apparently plying their trade while not disparaging another demographic.

Maybe it’s just that the “Redskins” are more widely known and thus the change to being a more sensitive society starts there.

But if that were the case, somebody better come up with a new name for the state of Oklahoma –- which is the Choctaw word delineating the home of the “Red People”.

I hope they’ll try to find one that rhymes with “Okay” so high school musicals don’t have to suffer.

Here in Canada, there are already people signing petitions to have the CFL Edmonton Eskimos change their name. Eskimo pies will likely be next. There’s no telling how much emotional havoc they’ve wrought.

And once the grammar Nazis wake up, the Toronto Maple Leafs will undoubtedly have to go looking for a new moniker. How could the Ontario Teachers Federation own them for all those years without making that correction?

It probably won’t even be that long until PETA demands that teams not be named after animals either.

Part of me wonders if this is really about cleaning up our act on the equality front or it’s just about appearing to do so.

And maybe that’s all okay. Maybe it’s time the “Redskins” go the way of the cigar store Indian, the lawn jockey and Noddy’s Golliwogs opening the way to the great leaps forward in racial harmony those previous exiles brought about.

Or maybe we’ve reached a point in our evolution where we don’t need to define ourselves by symbols or colors or even nations.

Hell, the CFL used to have two teams called the “Roughriders”, how much more confusing would it be if they had nine?

And God knows, Shakespeare was right. “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet” and a Washington Redskin by any other name will still get his ass kicked nine Sundays out of sixteen.

So who cares what they call themselves. And maybe we could concentrate on changing things that directly affect any group’s ability to thrive and be happy.

The larger point is, this may well be about insensitivity or a perceived insult. But it’s not about Race.

In fact, there are some who believe the whole issue of race in sports was settled way back in 1959. There’s even film. If it offends you, take it up with HBO and…

Enjoy Your Sunday.


Birgit said...

I think it is the fad of the season and it is shame that political correctness is taking such a hold and we have to be so fearful of what we say and who we may offend. Aren't there more important things in the world than a name that doesn't really mean to offend? What is next? Will they censor old movies that say Indians, Eskimos, Japs and the usual array of film images and sport images, that, back then, didn't mean to offend but just be the norm for that time. I think we all need to chill out

Anonymous said...

"Will they censor old movies "

Well, they've already censored old photos of Winston Churchill's cigar, so, yeah, they'll soon start censoring old movies.

Reg Hartt here in Toronto used to run old cartoons that have been censored. Nothing too naughty, they were ok on TV in the 70s, but our so-much-more sophisticated yout' just can't handle it, the poor dears.