June 26, 2015

Redskins mascot = Confederate flag

As the Confederate flag came down, people wondered about the Redskins nickname and logo. Many made the obvious connection between one racist symbol and another. For instance:

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
It may be literally the least they could do, but it’s a victory for human decency that the Confederate flag will no longer be available at Walmart, Amazon, Sears, and eBay. Even though it is heartbreaking that it took the murder of nine people to get ghouls like Nikki Haley and Lindsay Graham as well as their corporate masters to see it as a public-relations liability, it also raises a question. If the Confederate flag is too toxic to sell, then how can Amazon and Walmart continue to peddle the merchandise of a Washington football team that bears the name of a racial slur? How can they stock the blood-red profile of a Native American chieftain’s head adorned with feathers and a brand—no matter what revisionists argue—that celebrates their violent death?The Racial Wallpaper of Slavery and Genocide

By Tara HouskaIt is monumental to see people recognizing and tearing down racial wallpaper; to witness progress in some of our most divided regions. Here in Washington, D.C., however, racial wallpaper is not even recognized as such.

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.
Native Americans Look At Confederate Flag Controversy And Ask: What About 'Redskins' And Other Racist Symbols?

By Ismat Sarah Mangla“Our country is having a national debate over symbols, and we should take an honest look at those symbols that don’t promote inclusivity but rather promote bigotry,” said Joel Barkin, vice president of the Oneida Indian Nation and spokesperson for Change the Mascot, a national campaign for ending the use of the word “redskins” as the mascot and name of the NFL team in the nation's capital.

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.”
Are they defending the Redskins name or the Confederate flag?

By Washington PostWhich brings us, perhaps inevitably, to the closest thing the world of sports has to the Confederate flag: The logo and nickname of the Washington Football Team.

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.”

Confederate flag

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."

Confederate flag

12) "Most--by overwhelming majorities--find [it] to be rooted in pride for our shared heritage and values."

Confederate flag

14) "Heritage, Honor, Pride, Not Racist."

Confederate flag

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"No business wants to look old or dated or be seen as being behind the times. But on this issue, that's exactly where we find Snyder and his team, stuck with a bad 20th-century name in an attentive 21st-century world."

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.
As Confederate flags fall, ‘Redskins’ defenders buck tide of progress

By Donn EsmondeThe nickname undoubtedly represented strength and pride to generations of Lancaster students. Unfortunately, few pondered the term’s deeper meaning. Or placed it in the context of the grim history of Native American annihilation–or, later, the “assimilation” on reservations and in white-run boarding schools, where native culture, language, customs and pride were forcibly extracted from a people.

“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.”
And:It’s not political correctness. It’s society pulling off its racial/ethnic blinders. Into this headwind of cultural common sense, the pro-“Redskins” crowd marches on.

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.
Comment:  In this context, "mascot" includes the Redskins name, logo, and the associated beliefs and actions of team officials and fans. It's a concept, a package of ideas, not a physical presence.

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.

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