Speaking of football, Jonathan Bernstein has long been making the argument that the Washington Redskins should change their name simply based on the issue of etiquette. This isn’t to say that there aren’t a whole lot of other issues, but you don’t even need to go there. The Native American community finds the name offensive. It’s as simple as that. So change the name.
Well, today I made the mistake of reading the comments of his most recent iteration of this argument, About That Washington Football Team. Well, apparently he has a troll that has nothing better to do than spout his ignorant opinions hour after hour. He goes by “Elesis” (a female name, but I don’t buy it) and I wouldn’t have even noticed him except that he kept making the same argument again and again and again.
And what an argument it is! Basically, “Sure ‘redskins’ can be a pejorative, but it isn’t a pejorative when the Washington football team uses it!” This is kind of like someone calling you “stupid.” When you complain, they say, “Hey, I know ‘stupid’ is generally a bad thing, but I don’t mean it that way when I refer to you that way!” In fact, here is an actual quote:
This made me think of a line from the film Pulp Fiction. What if Daniel Snyder decided that he wanted to name his team the “Washington Hard Pipe-Hittin’ Niggers”? I mean, in the movie, Marsellus doesn’t say that as a pejorative. He means he’s gonna bring in some hardcore guys who are going to “go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch.” I can hardly think of a better name for a football team that is going to open up a can of whoopass every time they hit the field!
By Elesis’ logic, that would be a perfectly fine name for a football team, “Rather than denegrating [!] African Americans, the Hard Pipe-Hittin’ N…..s (or just the N…..s for short) are in fact honoring them.” Why would African Americans have any reason to complain?
The only reason that occurs to me is that it is a totally racist name regardless of what Snyder and Elesis claim. And that’s be just as true of the Redskins as the Pipe-Hitters. So I think we can get rid of the whole idea that “Redskins” is an honorific moniker. I’m still with Bernstein: it’s just a question of etiquette. But obviously, for people like Snyder and Elesis, etiquette doesn’t matter. I think I’ve dispensed with the pejorative and racist arguments. I wonder what they’ll come up with next?!