March 26, 2014

Deconstructing Snyder's OAF letter

Critics had many things to say about Dan Snyder's letter announcing the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF). Few of them were complimentary.

Baffoe: Daniel Snyder Wrote Another Awful Letter

By Tim BaffoeIt’s pretty amazing that Daniel Snyder made his fortune in marketing, for he’s the public relations equivalent of butt cancer. In his desperate quest to have racism condoned, the owner of the Washington NFL team is back at the letter-writing thing again, explaining how he should be allowed to exploit Native Americans via mascoting them.And:Snyder garners support from passive and active racists alike who love to point out that some Indians aren’t offended by the Washington team name while failing to consider that something is wrong when a word offends any amount of people at all. Insensitivity doesn’t need a quota.

But there’s no time to consider that because Snyder quickly moves on to rounding up the “Aren’t there more important issues we should be dealing with?” crowd and points out how there are important issues facing Native American communities that are bigger than a football team name. Because sound logic dictates that we should ignore less significant issues that can easily be resolved in favor of the big ones that will take a whole lot of time and money to fix.

Snyder, of course, happens to have a bunch of money that he uses for things like resisting a call for changing a team name that many consider a slur. So at the end of page two of his love letter to himself he says that he is creating the Washington (holy crap, he actually put the offensive word in the charity’s name) Original Americans Foundation. Fitting that something named so astoundingly poorly has the acronym OAF.

The rest of the letter gives examples of what a great thing this great man is doing for these great people whose plight this great man is using to sugarcoat his vice grip on a great harmful team name and about the heritage and tradition of the team whose heritage and tradition is actually greatly awful. The letter is the quid pro quo of a bad guy who also sprinkles in some bold and italicized font to let you know he means business about this charity, which he’s using as a shield for his own bratty refusal to be a decent human being because it would mean admitting he is wrong about something, and megalomaniacs don’t do that. Then he signs it “Dan” because he’s your buddy and not the guy everyone in the organization has to call “Mr. Snyder.”
A simple case for the NFL's Washington Redskins to change their racist name

By Robert Harding"If his team nickname really isn't an offensive, racist term. If as he claims, it's a point of pride among Native American tribes, how come not once in this letter does Dan Snyder actually refer to actual Native Americans as 'redskins?'"

That's a great question for defenders of the Washington team name. If it's not an offensive term, why isn't it widely used today? Why do we say and write "Indian" or "Native American" when we could use "redskin?" If it's not derogatory, as Snyder and backers suggest, why not use it?
Snyder adds insult to injury with new Indian foundation

By John SmallwoodThe name of this foundation is the equivalent of Snyder naming a group the "Washington Darkies African Americans Foundation" or "Washington Yellow Men Asian Americans Foundation" or "Washington Crackers Caucasian Americans Foundation."

I have to believe Snyder was aware enough to know the outrage that giving his foundation such a same would create. He could have named it the "Daniel Snyder Original Americans Foundation."
And:He goes on to restate the argument that the team name, in terms of the NFL, is a representation of honor, pride and spirit. Snyder supports his argument by using a quote from Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso: "There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name."

And? So what?

It's never hard to find others to agree with your view, no matter what it may be.

There are African-Americans everywhere who 100 percent support using the "N-word" as a term of endearment among one another. That does not change the fact that, at its core, the "N-word" is still a disgusting racial slur.
About That Open Letter Dan Snyder Just Sent to ‘Redskins Nation’

By Dave ZirinI wrote then—and believe even more firmly now—that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.

To be “true” to your “history,” you would need to make your coach wear feathers in his hair, lie about him being Native American and then trade away all of your black players. The “values” the name represents can be summed up in a story I heard from a young woman named Mary from the Omaha Nation who spoke about how it would be shouted when bullies would hurt her at school. Her narrative and the narratives of others actually damaged by this name never enter Snyder's consciousness.

In that letter, I committed myself to listening and learning from all voices with a perspective about our Washington Redskins name.

This is a lie. Daniel Snyder has actually refused to meet with the Oneida Nation, the Choctaw Nation, the Red Cloud Nation, the Seminole Nation and every tribal council that has voted to call upon Snyder to change the name.
Dan Snyder's "Original Americans" Foundation, or, WTF Dan Snyder?

By Debbie ReeseSo what did billionaire Dan Snyder do about all the poverty he saw? He helped buy a backhoe.

WTF, Dan Snyder?

With his millions, he could have bought the whole thing, right? What else did he do? He distributed over 3000 "cold weather coats" to several Plains tribes. I wonder if those jackets have his team's name on them?

Snyder says that he "took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations" so that he could have "an accurate assessment of the most pressing needs in each community" and came up with over forty projects his foundation is going to work on. In his letter, he quotes several Native people. None of them, however, endorse the name. Some say they're grateful for his help.

Why would they need his help in the first place?

Maybe because Congress hasn't acted on its treaty obligations. Snyder could do more for all sovereign nations if he'd put pressure on Congress to fulfill treaty obligations. He is a billionaire, after all. He could do a lot more, couldn't he?

Instead, he has chosen a shameful path. Visiting Native people, "quietly and respectfully" and then shamelessly using them for his own ends. Disgusting.
Dan Snyder Acknowledges Existence of People He Prefers to Slur

By Marc TracyIn the October letter, the feelings of Native Americans are literally an afterthought. To wit: “We cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country.” In that letter, actually existing Native Americans might as well not actually exist.

However, Monday’s letter is entirely about real Native Americans (excuse me, Original Americans). We hear from them. We learn about them. We are no longer celebrating the “values and heritage” of the team. Rather, we are celebrating Native Americans themselves.

Why the change of heart? It could be pure gamesmanship. After all, since Snyder’s last letter was published, the Washington football team went 2-10. More likely, Snyder and his advisors decided that the best strategy is to change the conversation.

However much Snyder is paying for his advice, though, it’s too much. This change of the conversation has come at irreparable cost to Snyder’s cause of keeping the team’s name. Native Americans are no longer abstractions. Snyder has acknowledged their existence—has, in fact, flung their continued existence in our faces. How can he possibly keep the name now? After all, the corollary to the fact that Native Americans need our help isn’t that they should no longer be demeaned by this name. The corollary to the fact that Native Americans need our help is that they also should no longer be demeaned by this name.
Comment:  A few tweets on the subject:

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 24
@NativeApprops @jfkeeler I'm surprised he didn't call it the Redskins Helping Redskins Foundation. Since the name is so honorable and all.

ICTMN Arts ‏@ICTMN_Arts Mar 24
I think @bluecorncomics nailed it: If the name is OK, they why not call this foundation "@Redskins Helping Redskins"? (And goodnight.)

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Mar 27
How funny would it be if a federal agency rejected the name "Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation" because it's a racial slur?

BlueCornComics ‏@bluecorncomics Apr 1
First Indian who received beads from Columbus before being shipped back to Spain in chains: "He's honoring us!" #Redskins #NotYourMascot

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