Eight years ago, one of Virginia’s most prominent liberal bloggers convinced America “macaca” was racist. Now he’s in charge of convincing America “Redskins” isn’t.
By Evan McMorris-Santoro
Ben Tribbett, a blogger who first found and then promoted the video of Allen calling a Virginia man “macaca,” joined the front office of the Washington Redskins and owner Dan Snyder’s team of consultants and paid staff who are defending the NFL franchise’s name.
The effort also brings Tribbett on the same team as Allen, whose brother, Bruce, is the Redskins’ general manager. Tribbett won’t talk about Allen or what exactly he plans to do to defend the Redskins’ name, but he argues his new job is consistent with his long-held belief that the name “Redskins” is neither racist nor divisive.
“You’ve got overlapping priorities” in Virginia, said Catherine Read, Northern Virginia-based progressive political fixture and an Equality Virginia board member who thinks the nickname is racist. “It’s a religion for some people here.”
“I don’t think Ben is coming at this from political correctness,” she added. “He’s coming at it as a fan.”
“Maybe he’s playing 3D chess, like in Star Trek,” one prominent liberal said, wondering aloud how the man who surfaced “macaca” can square his new gig with his past. “Or maybe he’s full of shit.”
Washington’s blogger-turned-lobbyist faces scrutiny
By Mike Florio
“Ben Tribbett was right to criticize George Allen for using a racial epithet against people of color, so it is surprising that Mr. Tribbett is now a paid operative working with George Allen and his brother Bruce to actively promote a racial epithet against people of color,” the group said in a recent statement. “Mr. Tribbett needs to explain why he thinks it is unacceptable to slur Indian Americans but that it is somehow acceptable to similarly slur Native Americans. Maybe he’s had a change of heart and now thinks denigrating people on the basis of their skin color is OK, or perhaps he was fine selling his principles to the highest bidder. In this case, Dan Snyder has repeatedly proven that he is the highest bidder of them all when it comes to his desire to continue profiting off of the slander of Native Americans.”
More recently, a diligent effort to track down the content of Tribbett’s now-defunct blog revealed that he supported his contention that “macaca” is a slur by linking to a list of slurs that included “macaca.” And, yes, “redskins.”
While not quite the smoking gun that some will deem it to be, the presence of the word Tribbett is now defending on a list of slurs that included the name he once attacked shows that he probably wasn’t the best choice to help the effort to defend the name. Making his hiring the latest blunder by a franchise that has authored over the last year and a half an excellent case study on how not to handle P.R. problems.
But political blogging is an insincere medium--more insincere even than sports blogging. People will say anything if they think it will get their candidate elected. Did Tribbett care about racism in 2006? Was he really offended by George Allen's use of "macaca"? We again tip our cap to Frances Danger for noticing the Twitter widget in the archived Not Larry Sabato blog. These are Tweets (still live here, here and here) written by Tribbett in 2010, from a gambling table in a Las Vegas casino:
"An older native american guy just accused me of cheating and pulled some stuff out of his pocket to put some kind of spell on me. Epic. ... 100 into 500. #cursefail ... Just took Chief for his last 300. I'd call it a scalping but that seems uncalled for."
This is the guy the Redskins have hired to sell the idea that the team's name "honors" Native Americans. We score this one another fumble by Redskins management.