Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

NFL's Redskins nickname has to go

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It’s a debate I’ve long steered clear of, recusing myself from weighing in based on personal allegiances.

Team owner Daniel Snyder says he won't change the Redskins nickname despite criticism from President Obama and many others.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Team owner Daniel Snyder says he won't change the Redskins nickname despite criticism from President Obama and many others.

My childhood self that unwittingly cherishes the memories, however, is at cross odds with my adult self that knowingly can’t support bigotry.

Silence isn’t the proper response anymore. The Redskins nickname has to go.

The long-standing campaign to get Washington’s NFL franchise to change its inarguably race-based nickname is reaching crescendo as the team’s stubborn owner looks sillier by the day with his insensitive inflexibility.

With the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelling six trademarks belonging to the football team last week, saying they are offensive to Native Americans, the heat has become intense on the franchise to make a change. The amount of mocking unlicensed merchandise that will surely flood the market soon will cost more in ridicule than it will in the millions of dollars that Dan Snyder will have to spend trying to protect the familiar logo.

It would be a lot cheaper and a lot more lucrative to just rebrand the team. Call them the Redhawks, Red Devils, RedBulls (sponsorship opportunity) or Red Menace. Pretty much anything that doesn’t demean the features of Native Americans would be an acceptable and welcome alternative.

I’m not one of the people ready to jump on board the bandwagon to erase all Native-American inspired nicknames from the landscape. I believe most of them – such as Braves, Chiefs and Warriors – come from a place of respect. Teams choose those nicknames based on noble attributes that fit athletic ideals. (I don’t have the same affection for “Indians” since the word itself is a name our ancestors created because they were too ignorant to realize they had landed on the wrong continent and too lazy to change to moniker once they figured it out.)

It’s not hard to understand why Native Americans would cringe at the sight of thousands of mostly white fans chanting and “tomahawk” chopping in unison. I don’t choose to join in at Turner Field. And nobody can condone the use of demeaning caricatures like Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo or the long-gone
Atlanta feature of Chief Noc-A-Homa and his outfield teepee. We should have progressed as a society to stop using such insensitive stereotypes.

We hadn’t, however, when I was a kid growing up in the ’60s and ’70s playing “Cowboys and Indians” around the neighborhood when we weren’t playing kick-the-can. The Redskins nickname seemed harmless enough. I had never once in my life heard the R-word being used as a pejorative. It certainly wasn’t in the same realm of the N-word that reached ugly heights of hate and disrespect in an era of civil rights and desegregation.

Personally, I always loved Washington’s helmet logo and would doodle it during classes while humming the team’s famous fight song. The words of that song, however (not to mention the band wearing headdresses), were indefensible.

“Scalp’um, swamp’um

We will take’um big score.

Read’um, Weep’um, touchdown

We want heap more.”

Even the team knew that kind of demeaning impression was offensive and changed the words in the late ’80s to scuttle the Tonto-like pidgin English.

Pig-headed team owner Snyder, who has driven away this lifelong fan with his reprehensible personality and his ineffective leadership, refuses to yield in the face of criticism from all sides including team players and President Obama.

“We will never change the name of the team,” is Snyder’s mantra.

That’s a rather shallow line on the sand to draw. Other teams have long since changed their offensive nicknames and survived. Stanford went from Indians to Cardinal in 1972. William and Mary went from Indians to Tribe in the late ’70s. St. John’s jettisoned Redmen (and arguably the most offensive of all caricature logos) in favor of Red Storm in 1994.

Most notably, Miami (Ohio) changed from Redskins to RedHawks in 1997. Washington could make a similar switch and keep its uniforms and logo almost identical, perhaps with a hawk tail feather draped off a circle with the Capitol dome inside.

Bottom line is, it’s not Snyder’s or anyone else’s place to say what is or isn’t offensive to an entire group of people. Native Americans are offended by a nickname that clearly has racial connotations. Fighting to uphold that “tradition” in the face of public scorn is absurd.

Until that name is gone (and preferably Snyder with it, in my opinion), I cannot support the team of my childhood. That famous fight song still rings in my head, but the fight has changed.

Fail to the Redskins.

Fail history.

Braves on the warpath,

Fighting bigotry.

Comments (27) Add comment
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716
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Barry Paschal 06/28/14 - 09:34 pm
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"Ninckname"?

Typoriffic.

geecheeriverman
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geecheeriverman 06/29/14 - 05:16 am
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How Sad

How sad it is for you to jump on the Politically Correct bandwagon. The PC crowd has an agenda that, if left unchallenged, will wipe out our right to free speech. The word racism is used by this movement because it conjures up hate. There is nothing racist about Native American names being used by sports teams. It is just another way for the real RACIST to drive their agenda!

Riverman1
83808
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Riverman1 06/29/14 - 08:18 am
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Palefaces?

The NY Times ran a similar editorial 4 days ago with this tripe. I like Snyder and his attitude of saying the name stays no matter what. The Redskins were my favorite team growing up. It’s easy to find fault with almost any sport’s nickname. If they were called the Palefaces would there be complaints? Look at all the insults shouted at the USC Gamecocks. Carolina college girls wearing those shorts with the abbreviated “cocks” on the back. I bet the Chronicle will keep using the name Redskins in the future as long it’s the legal name. So there.

Kingbiscuitboy
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Kingbiscuitboy 06/29/14 - 08:49 am
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Ban the Tomahawk Chop, too!

As a person of Native American decent(yes, this is what we prefer), I find the Tomahawk Chop used by the Atlanta Braves more offensive than the Redskins name. It is a mockery of the vocals used in our celebration and religious dances and should have been banned years ago.

avidreader
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avidreader 06/29/14 - 09:37 am
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Respect Is The Issue!

I love tradition! I'm sure this is how Mr. Snyder looks at it. However, if the Redskins brand is so offensive and causing so much turmoil, then why not change the brand? I see this as a PR opportunity to offer a respectful nod toward a disparaged population, not an opportunity to show one's [filtered word].

Think of it like this: A fresh, new brand will bring in millions of NEW dollars, while the tarnished Redskins brand will become popular among souvenir hunters and memorabilia nuts. It's a win-win situation.

I consider Mr. Snyder to be a bit too full of -- himself.

avidreader
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avidreader 06/29/14 - 09:39 am
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to Michaux

You're an excellent writer!

Little Lamb
45908
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 09:58 am
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Got to go?

So Scott Michaux says the Redskins’ name has got to go.

Well, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry all said that Syrian president Assad has got to go, and he's still here.

The word redskin is a descriptor, but in and of itself it is not derogatory nor disparaging of the skin color nor of any person who has such a skin color. The "offensiveness" comes from within the heart of the one offended, not from the color.

Like James Brown, native Americans should learn to sing, “Say it loud; I'm red and I'm proud.”

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 10:01 am
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Opinion Polls

Scott Michaux wrote:

Native Americans are offended by a nickname that clearly has racial connotations.

I'm not a big fan of opinion polls, but I have seen the results of one that said that a majority of Native Americans are not offended nor even bothered by the name of the Washington Redskins. They have enough sense to know that the name cannot hurt them.

jimmymac
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jimmymac 06/29/14 - 11:19 am
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PC
Unpublished

I'm telling you folks the Indians, Braves and any name with red or black in it will soon be on the PC hit list. However Mick, Dago, Hillbilly, Redneck is still OK with the PC crowd.

harley_52
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harley_52 06/29/14 - 12:01 pm
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"With the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office....

....cancelling six trademarks belonging to the football team last week, saying they are offensive to Native Americans, the heat has become intense on the franchise to make a change."

Yes, I see.

Political pressure is what makes something "offensive" and the liberalism inspired political correctness movement should be allowed to overwhelm the Constitution, tradition, and public opinion just to appease THEIR sense of what is (and what isn't) OFFENSIVE.

Tell you what, Mr. Michaux....I find your column and your willingness to allow the government to define social acceptability and to use government power to steal from an American citizen to be both offensive AND Unconstitutional.

What happens when they decide it's offensive to have a French sounding last name with the penalty of double taxation?

deestafford
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deestafford 06/29/14 - 01:09 pm
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Many are ignorant as to the origin of the term "redskins"..

Many are ignorant as to the origin of the term "redskins". It was initiated by the American Indians to differentiate them from the whites.

As to the term used as a nickname for a sports team one would think that the owner of a team would want to name the team something that denotes pride, spirit, bravery, and steadfastness...things to be proud of and that's what the original owners of the Washington Redskins did. You don't name your team something which you think is derogatory or shows lack of courage and will.

This is nothing more than the continued running amok of political correctedness by a bunch of activists. The majority of Indians are not offended by the term "Redskins". If anything they should be offended by it being linked with "Washington".

As far as the Patent Office it has taken away private property which is beyond its jurisdiction. Just because some group decides something granted decades ago is today offensive is a violation of the taking clause of the Constitution and will be overturned in court.

This hogwash about being "oooofffffeeennnnddddeeddd" has got to stop. It is making us look like a bunch of wimps as a country. No wonder people thing the American Dream is dead when being "offended" is more of a priority than working your butt off to make a living for one's family and taking personal responsibility.

If the activists were really concerned about the American Indian they would do something about getting them our from being a ward of the government and get them back to being self reliant and brave like their ancestors. Just look at the difference in the way the NC Indians prosper without government handouts compared to those who are wards of the government.

harley_52
23272
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harley_52 06/29/14 - 02:21 pm
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It Should Be No Surprise...

....to anybody that the PC police have focused their attention on Army vehicles named after Indian tribes. They have decided it is "offensive" to have helicopters/vehicles named "Apache," or "Chinook," or "Cheyene," or a couple of others. They demand those names be changed as well.

There is no end to the insanity.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 02:44 pm
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Offended

I am offended by government buildings, naval vessels, and highways, roads and streets being named after politicians, living or dead.

Little Lamb
45908
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 02:47 pm
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Boo Hoo

Scott Michaux wrote:

Until that name is gone . . . I cannot support the team of my childhood.

What a pity party. If you can't support the team, then don't support it. It's nothing to cry about.

Wa-ah.

csrareader
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csrareader 06/29/14 - 03:41 pm
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Must be a slow news day.

Must be a slow news day. That's all you've got???
Why not cover sports and not politics???

gargoyle
16989
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gargoyle 06/29/14 - 05:55 pm
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His leadership

His leadership and Michaux have been derelict of printing local sports news so sports coverage other than what has been reported by the AP is a mute point once school is out. His columnist opining seems to be nothing more than a vain attempt to get on the Golf Channel.

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 06/29/14 - 06:13 pm
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Lacking relevance

Jason Whitlock

Bob Costas

Scott Michaux

Lacking relevance indeed....

Darby
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Darby 06/29/14 - 06:46 pm
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"Until that name is gone

(and preferably Snyder with it, in my opinion), I cannot support the team of my childhood."
.
I'm betting that the Redskins will be around long after Scott Michaux is relegated to the status of "Scott who"????

And we'll all be better for it!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 07:13 pm
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Think about this - - -

If "redskin" is as derogatory and as disparaging and as race-based as Scott Michaux and Harry Reid say it is, then how in the world do The Chronicle and the main stream media get away with publishing the word so freely? How can the word be used in broadcasting by NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, etc.?

Why doesn't our society demand that news media and polite conversation replace the awful and demeaning word "redskin" with the more demure, "r-word"? We have "the n-word" so why can't we be consistent and insist that media use "the r-word" when discussing this disgusting, awful, demeaning, disparaging, hurtful, mean-spirited word?

burninater
9580
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burninater 06/29/14 - 09:25 pm
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"We have "the n-word" so why

"We have "the n-word" so why can't we be consistent and insist that media use "the r-word" when discussing this disgusting, awful, demeaning, disparaging, hurtful, mean-spirited word?"
-------
That's an excellent idea, LL.

Perhaps we'll eventually get enough folks with a sense of common decency together to make the change.

Darby
25608
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Darby 06/29/14 - 09:30 pm
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"That's an excellent idea, LL.

Perhaps we'll eventually get enough folks with a sense of common decency together to make the change."

.
I'm betting that Burn has no more awareness of the concept of sarcasm than does Sheldon of "The Big Bang".

burninater
9580
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burninater 06/29/14 - 09:44 pm
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Oh, I'm well aware LL

Oh, I'm well aware LL intended to be sarcastic, Darby.

All the more reason to hope that someday we'll eventually get enough folks with a sense of common decency together to make the change.

Darby
25608
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Darby 06/29/14 - 10:09 pm
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Considering

the manner and context in which Democrats, particularly for the last six years, refer to Republicans, perhaps we should petition for the introduction of the R-word.

Works for me....

Darby
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Darby 06/29/14 - 10:13 pm
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Nor sure why LL's

attempt at humor should give you any kind of hope, Burn..

Maybe now, you're being sarcastic?

Darby
25608
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Darby 06/29/14 - 10:16 pm
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If this nation had enough folks

with a sense of common decency, we wouldn't treat millions of our black citizens as some sort of fragile endangered species.

Little Lamb
45908
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Little Lamb 06/29/14 - 10:40 pm
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Sarcasm

Thanks for commenting, guys. Funny, I didn't think of my comment about the "r-word" as sarcasm, but in thinking about it, it might qualify.

What I was trying to do was to show the absurdity of calling the word redskins "disparaging," as the FTC spokesman did. If it really were disparaging, then the mainstream media, in their political correctness mode, would not dare use it. They don't use "the n-word." after all.

Scott Michaux has fallen for false victimization. The only ones who are offended are left-wing idealogues who wish nothing more than the destruction of liberty.

Riverman1
83808
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Riverman1 06/30/14 - 08:54 am
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Cavaliers

Scott Michaux is a UVA Cavalier fan. I take exception to the name Cavalier. In the English Civil War, they fought on the side of a king attempting to do away with the will of the people through Parliament. Cavalier represents unabashed royalty at the expense of the people and is out of place in these modern times.

MrClen1944
233
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MrClen1944 06/30/14 - 02:07 pm
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The real tragedy is the

The real tragedy is the Native Americans have been done badly since the first explorers landed. A football team name change is just a way for those who have never had the intestinal fortitude to look at the real tragedy to jump up and attempt to make themselves feel better. Michaux, get real and look at the real injustices and not some liberal politically correct idea of injustice. Because changing the name of a team of men playing a child's game ain't going to do it.

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