"The Washington Redskins name has thus from its origin represented a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context," writes Goodell. "For the team's millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America's most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect."
Note: I may have paraphrased Goodell's position a bit. A simpler translation would be: "Our profits are more important than your feelings."
This trite and obvious response--that "Redskins" doesn't mean what you think it means--is easily refuted:
Congress Members Respond to NFL Commissioner's Support for 'Redskins' Name
Congressman Faleomavaega responded to the letter with the following statement:
“Mr. Goodell has completely missed the point regarding the Washington franchise’s name. In his recent letter, he acknowledges the NFL’s ‘responsibility to exemplify […] values of diversity and inclusion.’ Yet in the same letter he fails to assume any responsibility for the racism that the Washington franchise’s name continues to promote. You cannot have it both ways. Whether good intentioned or not, the fact of the matter is that the term ‘Redskin’ is a racial slur that disparages Native Americans. It is time for the NFL to stop making excuses for itself and fully embrace its so-called commitment to diversity.”
Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus Congresswoman McCollum issued the following response:
“Unfortunately, NFL Commissioner Goodell’s letter is another attempt to justify a racial slur on behalf of Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who appear to be only concerned with earning ever larger profits, even if it means exploiting a racist stereotype of Native Americans. For the head of a multi-billion dollar sports league to embrace the twisted logic that ‘Redskin’ actually ‘stands for strength, courage, pride, and respect’ is a statement of absurdity.
“Would Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder actually travel to a Native American community and greet a group tribal members by saying, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ I think not. (‘Hey, what’s up redskin’ is a quote from materials provided to my office by the NFL, along with the claim that ‘Redskins’ is a ‘term of endearment’ among Native Americans.)
“Indian children, families and elders are Americans, and just like all racial, ethnic, or religious groups, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not as a demeaning caricature or mascot. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of the NFL.”
Who in the hell says the NFL gets to ignore "some other context" and focus only on its bubble of money, violence, and happy talk? Not me. The word is a slur by definition, which means it's a slur in every context. Goodell and owner Dan Snyder don't get to ignore some contexts just because these contexts paint the team in a negative light.
Calling a spin doctor
Clearly Snyder is getting worried, since he's bringing in the big guns:
Frank Luntz hired by Washington football team to convince people name isn’t horribly racist
Republican pollster hired by football team with disgusting name
By Alex Pareene
Luntz is actually fantastically good at his job—so good that he’s convinced quite a few seemingly intelligent liberals that Luntzian language-massaging is the secret behind all conservative electoral success—which is why he is basically Fox News and the House Republicans’ message-crafter-in-residence. He renamed the estate tax “the death tax.” He told the GOP to refer to Democratic healthcare reform as “a Washington takeover” and financial reform as a “big bank bailout bill.”
By Jonathan Mahler
A. Acknowledge the name is offensive and rename the team.
B. Hire pollster Frank “It’s-Not-What-You-Say-It’s-What-They-Hear” Luntz to help you navigate your moral quandary?
If you're Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, the answer is apparently B.
For more on the Washington Redskins, see White House Gets Redskins Question and Online Redskins Poll Demonstrates Bias.