Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Political Incorrectness

These days there is some well-deserved critical attention being paid to the name of the Washington D.C. professional football team.   The name has been around since 1933 when George Preston Marshall, one of the original owners of the at-that-time 1-year-old Boston Braves, changed the team name to the current racial epithet.  In 1937 he moved the team to D.C.

Marshall was by all accounts a virulent racist who deliberately chose a  team name that would be overtly offensive.  Make no mistake, this was done knowingly and willfully.  1933 was not some innocent, halcyon time.  Racism in those days was more explicit, vicious and violent than anyone born in the civil rights era would be able to imagine. 

Marshall also refused to let African-American players participate on his team, until finally relenting in 1962, 13 years after the rest of the league began drafting black players.  Even then, he relented only under a direct threat of having his stadium lease revoked.  It's no coincidence that for most of Marshall's tenure, the Washington team was the southernmost in the NFL.

You can have whatever opinion you like on this matter.  But the fact remains that the team name is a racial epithet, offensive per se, and specifically selected to be so.  In my opinion, every bit of that is inexcusable. 

A couple of weeks ago I heard a radio host rant about this topic, going on to likewise condemn the names of the Florida Seminoles, Illinois U. Illini, Cleveland Indians, etc.etc.  Also included in this rant was criticism of the Altlanta Braves.  There is considerable validity to this point of view, but it's possible to take it too far.

The radio host went on to say that there are no mascots that are caricatures of white people.  But, without too much dedicated thinking, I came up with the Minnesota Vikings, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Michigan State Spartans, and Southern Cal Trojans.  That pretty much deflates the argument.  Also, the Oklahoma Sooners and Nebraska Corn Huskers, though not ethnic groups, specifically refer to the white settlers in these areas.

The other part of it is that team names, or mascots if you prefer to think of them that way, have as eponyms entities known for courage, valor, tenacity and fighting spirit.  Consider those chosen from the animal kingdom:  Lions and Tiger and Bears, oh my, Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Sharks, Wolverines, Badgers, 'Gators; on and on it goes.  No sheep, lemmings, flamingos or squirrels, though the Cardinals and Ducks might make you stop and go, "hmmmmm."

So I think harping about the Braves is protesting too much.  In between, there is a broad, gray area.  The Cleveland Indians Chief Wahoo is certainly pushing it.  But is that really any more out of line than the pugnacious leprechaun representing the Fighting Irish, the horn-helmeted Viking, or Herbie Husker?

As I said before, you can have any opinion you like.  Mine is that the Washington D.C. professional football team should either change their name to something non-offensive [or at least LESS offensive] or adopt a new logo.

1 comment:

R W Rawles said...

Respectfully, I don't think you've made your case. Braves & Indians - Yes? But Red Skins - No? I'm freshly (and painfully) retired now but I'm not adverse to my Dodgers being called "Bums"!