By Daniel Newhauser
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, said on Thursday that he finds the name, a racial descriptor for indigenous Americans, deeply offensive and feels strongly that it should be changed.
“Come on. This is the 21st century. This is the capital of political correctness on the planet,” he said. “It is very, very, very offensive. This isn’t like warriors or chiefs. It’s not a term of respect, and it’s needlessly offensive to a large part of our population. They just don’t happen to live around Washington, D.C.”
He noted there is precedent for changing a name: The Washington Bullets changed its name to the Wizards out of sensitivity to the high rate of murders in the city. Other offensive ethnic terms attached to team names would not be tolerated, Cole said, so neither should this.
Cole joins Washington DC's mayor, comedian Katt Williams, and several sports columnists calling for the name to change. This led to a brief discussion on Facebook:
It seems like there's a groundswell of public discussion about the Redskins. Perhaps this can grow into a movement for changing the remaining mascots.
I wonder if this groundswell is tied into all the controversies recently: No Doubt, Victoria's Secret, Johnny Depp, Elizabeth Warren, Idle No More, etc. Perhaps these incidents are raising the collective consciousness that 1) Indians still exist and 2) they don't like to be stereotyped.
If that happened, I think it would raise awareness of a lot of Native issues. Everything from sovereignty and treaty rights to mascots and hipsters in headdresses. The problem isn't that people don't have access to information; it's that they don't pay attention to it.
For more on the Redskins, see Annenberg's "Redskins" Survey and Kickstarter Campaign to Change Redskins Name.