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Palomar Observatory

Monday, November 16, 2009

Namegame


The Supreme Court in its munificent wisdom has rejected the call of native americans to outlaw the use of the term Washington "Redskins". The team adopted the moniker in 1933 and the SCOTUS says that the statute of limitations for bringing suit has expired. Read about the ruling here.

I am of two minds on the issue. Native Americans have also objected to the team names Indians, Warriors, Chiefs, Braves, etc. and they don't seem terribly noxious to me. Redskins does seem to cross some sort of line of propriety and good taste. There is a long history of ridiculous anti native sentiment in the country, which after all, we stole fair and square. Abe Lincoln, who was busy emancipating the slaves, had horrible things to say about the"savages". As did Mark Twain.

I know I would personally object to a team calling itself the "Heebs". I could just imagine the Brandeis "Fighting Accountants". There was actually a team called the Yeshiva Gefilte Fish for a while and I think that borders on poor taste as well since I've never been a fan of either. By the way, Stanford voluntarily changed its team name from Indian to Cardinal a few years ago. A singular Indian or lone brave which was sort of hard to understand but what do I know?

At the risk of being politically incorrect, are the native americans being just a tad oversensitive? We never hear a peep from the Greeks about the appropriation of the "Spartans" or "Trojans". The Irish and the leprechauns seem to be cool with the Boston "Celtics" or the "Fighting Irish". Peta hasn't started demonstrating yet over the Georgia Bulldogs or the Detroit Tigers. The brothers are apparently down with the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League. The vegetarians have managed to tolerate the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes. Guess they have a bit thicker skin.

The big chiefs in Washington have issued their decree and I guess the matter is closed. Another arrow in the heart of the original inhabitants whose laundry list of affronts is already legendary. Play Ball.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Red Mesa in the heart of Navajoland calls their high school team the Redskins. The Native Americans on the reservation refer in slang to themselves as 'skins'.

Fighting Irish, Vikings, Yankees, Seminoles, Indians, TarHeels, Sooners, Celtics, etc. etc. All curious names describing ethinic groups.

Is the name Redskins intentionally racist? or praising Native Americans? Are other sports names offensive? These names were created for teams along time ago, but where do you draw the line?
How about the NYCC Scrappy Jews??? UNLV Menacing Mafia???
BYU Polygamists???

Maybe teams should change their names. There are no lakes in LA. Utah (Salt Lake City) is just about the last place you'd think of Jazz in. Dodgers, what a silly name. Phillies, aren't they female horses?
Funny thing, I always thought the Arizona Cardinals had a funny name and an inappropriate one kept from their Chicago days. Silly name for a team in the desert, until one day my friend showed me winter desert Cardinals in his yard in Scottsdale.

Anonymous said...

How about the Vatican Cardinals? And what the hell is a knickerbocker anyway?

DaisyDeadhead said...

Native Americans have also objected to the team names Indians, Warriors, Chiefs, Braves, etc. and they don't seem terribly noxious to me. Redskins does seem to cross some sort of line of propriety and good taste.

Agreed... this is because Warriors and Chiefs and such can also apply to other people. Every culture has had warriors and leaders. "Redskins" is very specific, though, and refers to color. Also, it has a nasty racist history, used as an insult by whites in the West. It's exactly like that other word.

The Native Americans on the reservation refer in slang to themselves as 'skins'.

Um, you ever heard any hip-hop? The n-word is common in that venue. And that is for African-Americans to use, not for whites to use.

Fighting Irish, Vikings, Yankees, Seminoles, Indians, TarHeels, Sooners, Celtics, etc. etc. All curious names describing ethnic groups.

These are all names denoting PRIDE. What is proud about "redskins"? It has no history of ever being used in a proud sort of way.

And BTW, I got repeatedly lectured on a lengthy thread last week (at my blog), that the Irish are NOT an ethnicity. (Robert can attest to that!)

So, there you go. ;)

DaisyDeadhead said...

There was a team called the Georgia Crackers, believe it or not.

Blue Heron said...

Thanks for chiming in, Daisy. I hope we get to meet on the real live physical plane some day.

grumpy said...

don't Clarence Thomas, the Wise Latina and the rest of the Supremes have other cases to decide? i went to high school in Virginia, not far from DC, which is why i still use "y'all" in my speech; i loved the Skins, and would go their games at RFK Stadium, although it was called something else then; loved Sunny Jurgensen with his pot belly, throwing those bombs to Bobby Mitchell, despite their leaky offensive line, which sportswriters dubbed "the seven pats of butter." sorry, am waxing nostalgic.