The Confederate Flag, the Washington Football Team, and the Owners Who Love Them
If the Confederate flag is seen as poisonous, then products bearing the Washington football team name should be regarded in similar fashion.
By Dave Zirin
By Tara Houska
Every day, I walk down the streets of our Nation’s capitol, through the halls of Congress, past statues of celebrated American leaders. And every day, I am subjected to pinpricks of racism directed at Native Americans.
Jerseys, hats, bags, umbrellas, bumper stickers, miniature flags, giant banners, even paper towels–all proudly displaying a caricature of a Native American with a dictionary-defined racial slur as its moniker.
By Ismat Sarah Mangla
Just as defenders of the Confederate flag have argued that it represents pride in Southern culture and history rather than racism, supporters of team names like the "Redskins" have insisted that they actually honor Native Americans. But activists say parallels between the two controversies are worth noting. Even if the intention behind the usage of such symbols isn't to harm, Americans should recognize that minority groups are harmed by them nonetheless--and eliminate them as a result.
“Proud tradition does not negate the racism of a flag associated with the enslavement of a people, nor does it negate the racism of a moniker that dehumanizes and slurs a people who underwent attempted eradication,” wrote Tara Houska, tribal rights attorney in Washington, in the Indian Country Today Media Network. “Despite empirical studies demonstrating psychological harm, numerous tribal resolutions, lawsuits, and protests spanning decades, the r-word still remains widely accepted.”
By Washington Post
Many will reject this comparison for obvious reasons, pointing out that a scientific poll has shown Native American support for the Redskins name, that football should not be compared with politics, and that it’s entirely unfair to link the name of a sports team with such a weighty symbol as the Confederate battle flag.
Still, it’s hard to deny that defenders of both the team name and the flag have sometimes used very similar language to state their cases. This quiz asks if you can tell the difference.
1) “It is a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride, and respect.”
10) "We are not racists. We despise racism and bigotry. And we think the people who are creating this ‘cultural cleansing’ are the real bigots in this story."
12) "Most--by overwhelming majorities--find [it] to be rooted in pride for our shared heritage and values."
14) "Heritage, Honor, Pride, Not Racist."
More on the subject
A couple of weeks later, pundits were still making the connection:
What the Nazis, the Confederates and the Redskins All Have in Common: Symbols That Deserve Burial
By Steve Benson
Snyder will eventually cave and go back to his cave.
The Nazi swastika, the Confederate flag, the Redskins logo--all rancid relics of bygone days. One by one, they're marching to the beat of their own funeral dirges, trudging toward a well-deserved and long-overdue final resting place atop the ash heap of history.
And not a moment too soon.
By Donn Esmonde
“You’re appropriating an image or a nickname from someone else’s culture for your own use, without understanding what it truly means,” said John Kane, a local Native American activist and radio talk show host. “While it may represent pride to those people, to us it conveys dominance over a race, a superiority. It’s not a happy connotation.”
Whether it’s the nickname, or the “Stars and Bars” flag, there’s a deeper truth that can’t be ignored. Trying to turn back the clock merely leaves you stuck in the past.
The team doesn't have a physical mascot who appears at games and so forth. Not since Chief Zee the unofficial mascot retired, anyway.
For more on the Confederate flag, see Confederate Flag vs. Other Flags and The Confederate Flag Must Go.