By David Cay Johnston

NFL’s Defense Of ‘Redskins’ Falls Woefully Short

March 6, 2014 3:50 pm Category: Memo Pad, Politics, Sports 14 Comments A+ / A-
NFL’s Defense Of ‘Redskins’ Falls Woefully Short

Using slurs seems a simple issue:  It is morally wrong and offensive.

But to Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, “the issue is undeniably complex.”

Goodell wrote those words in a very sophisticated and carefully crafted Feb. 27 letter defending the name of the football team in the nation’s capital. The National Memo has obtained a copy of the letter, which was probably drafted by lawyers. You can read it here.

The team’s name is intended to “honor and respect” the heritage of native peoples, Goodell wrote. Those would be the original inhabitants who, from Columbus forward, the European explorers thought nothing of raping, enslaving, torturing and slaughtering because to them the native peoples whose skin was a different color simply were not fellow human beings.

To put this in modern perspective, imagine if Goodell’s stated reasons for the team name were applied not to native peoples, but to the heritage of those kidnapped in Africa and brought to America by force.

The Washington Slaves. Imagine if Goodell had to write a letter defending that name which, after all, by his own terms celebrates another part of our heritage. That name is also more historically appropriate for the city than its current name, given that the District of Columbia was a slave-holding city.

What, in principle, is the difference between the current name of the football team and my suggested name?  After all, Georgia lawmakers so love their state’s slavery heritage that they voted to put the Confederate flag on specialty license plates.

The letter reveals that Goodell, like many of his fellow white Americans, is afflicted with a social disease. Physicians would call it privilegium candidioris cutis. In English that’s white skin privilege.

People so afflicted are blinded by the economic and social benefits of their external casing, so much so that they cannot recognize their own privileged status and often perceive themselves as victims of those who lack the skin tone they call flesh.

This disease, however, can be cured through education and contemplative exercises that develop, in tandem, intellectual strength and moral clarity.

Goodell knows better than what he wrote. Last September he told a Washington radio sports station, when speaking about the local team’s name, “If we are offending one person, we need to be listening and making sure that we’re doing the right things to try to address that.”

The problem there is with “if.” There is no “if,” because in fact many people of many skin tones are offended.

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NFL’s Defense Of ‘Redskins’ Falls Woefully Short Reviewed by on . Using slurs seems a simple issue:  It is morally wrong and offensive. But to Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, “the issue is undeniably complex.” Goodell wro Using slurs seems a simple issue:  It is morally wrong and offensive. But to Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, “the issue is undeniably complex.” Goodell wro Rating: 0

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Comments

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Waitaminit! Goodell earned $44.2 million and the NFL still has the audacity to call itself a “Non-Profit”? Gimme a break!

    • Kevin Schmidt

      And why aren’t the overpriced NFL tickets tax deductible?

      • davidcayjohnston

        They are when bought by businesses, which is why tickets to games now often cost $500 and up to $2,500, as I have shown in previous writings.

        • Kevin Schmidt

          I meant tax deductible as a contribution to a non-profit organization.

  • gmccpa

    Synder wont change the name. He’s not interested if he is offending anyone. It counts only if he is the one being offended. In that case, let the lawsuits begin…

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/redskins/2011-02-03-daniel-snyder-suit_N.htm

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Danny Boy Snyder can’t win a Superbowl no matter how much money he throws at it. He has a talent for buying Super Bowl MVPs and turning them into bench warmers.

    As long as he owns the Deadskins, he will never win a Superbowl because he inherited the Curse of the Bambino.

    Here’s how it happened. At the end of August, 2004, he dared to sell new stadium seats with obstructed views, and lied about the views.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A33909-2004Aug25.html

    Just after that, the Curse of the Bambino was lifted from the Boston Redsocks when during a game on August 31, 2004, a foul ball hit by Manny Ramírez flew into Section 9, Box 95, Row AA and struck a boy’s face, knocking two of his teeth out. Sixteen-year-old Lee Gavin, a Boston fan whose favorite player was
    Ramirez, lived on the Sudbury farm owned by Ruth. That same day, the
    Yankees suffered their worst loss in team history, a 22-0 clobbering at
    home against the Cleveland Indians.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_the_Bambino

  • dano2112a

    Get off it. There are a hell of a lot more important things to get your panties in a bundle about than what a football team is called. If there was this much hysteria and hissyfitting about the Patriot Act, it would have never been passed.

    • davidcayjohnston

      Columnist here…
      There actually were a lot of complaints about the Patriot Act before it was passed and renewed.

  • Anthony Brown

    “The problem there is with “if.” There is no “if,”
    because in fact many people of many skin tones are offended.”

    And more people of many skin tones are NOT offended.

    How interesting that you prescribe education and contemplative
    exercises for those who want to keep the name but will not do the same with
    arguments for keeping it. That’s why so many of us Redskins fans have
    this discussion on”/ignore.”

    • davidcayjohnston

      Columnist here,

      Mr Brown I suggest you read up on etiquette. Miss Manners (Judith Martin) can provide you with a primer on manners. That many people, as my column noted, are not offended misses the point.

      • Anthony Brown

        Mr. Johnson, your response is yet more proof of why Redskins fans have this discussion on “/ignore.” That most people do not buy the argument IS the point that demolishes the absolutist notion that the term redskin is always and only a pejorative.

        There are considerable non-racial reasons why The Redskins(r) should keep their trademark and you seem completely dismissive of them and respond instead with insults and put-downs.

        And don’t presume to tell me what to do.

        • davidcayjohnston

          Opinion columns, and that is what I wrote, express a point of view based on reported facts. You ignore those facts, evidently because you dislike them. In contrast, my column reported that among those polled large majorities approve of, or not offended by, the team name.

          It is not for the person making the offensive remark, in this case the owner naming a team, to judge his own conduct. That is the reason I suggested you brush up on principles of etiquette.

          I would also encourage you to see the short video sponsored by Native American groups which points out that they go by many names, but none of them use the name that the Washington football team uses.

          An appreciation for the other, and the views of people with whom you disagree, is dismissed by you. Indeed, you declare that you wish to not hear such things but prefer to ignore them. That is your right, but so is mine to point out the weakness of your position, which is to favor by your own account ignorance over enlightenment.

          The question, as I put it, is –would you support a team called the Washington Slaves?

          Keep in mind that I show that it would be more historically appropriate name for a team in our nation’s capital, if, like you, one disregards the offense taken by others.

          So, how about it, are you for naming ANY team the Washington Slaves? If not, if you think that name is inappropriate, how do you square that with your posted positions?

          I do not see any difference between the current team name and the one I propose, but I would appreciate your enlightening can me.

          And do try, please, to render my name correctly.

  • gary nelson

    All you need to know why this is not important is that Dan Snyder who never passed a penny he did not pick up could make a few million by changing the name and yet he has not even bothered to look down for more.

  • wstockwin

    If the team had been originally called the Washington Redneks, or the Capitol Kikes, or the Washington Wops the name would have been changed years ago. As for the NFL being a nonprofit organization, now there’s an IRS scandal even Darrell Issa would have a hard time screwing up. Okay, maybe not Issa.

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