NPR is latest to tackle Washington Redskins’ name controversy: is the Voice next?

After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the use of “Redskins” for heart attack-inducing pork rinds and for potatoes, NPR released Wednesday a critical reflection on the morality of the media’s use of the controversial name. The reflection comes after Weekend Edition host Scott Simon referred to the D.C. football team as “the Washington football club whose team name I refuse to utter.”

According to NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos, although Native Americans actually have tanned or brown skin, they were to first to use the word to distinguish themselves from the mostly white-skinned British and French. In 1933, Boston Braves owner George Preston Marshall changed his then Boston-based football team to the Redskins, apparently in honor of former coach William Dietz, who identified as Native American. The Redskins moved to D.C. four years later.

In the past year, Democratic leaders such as Barack ObamaHarry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have pushed the Redskins to change its name, even though current owner Daniel Snyder has refused to do so. Pew Research Center has found at least 76 news outlets and journalists who oppose or refuse to the name. Schumacher-Matos said that NPR should fall into the opposition camp.

“It is not NPR’s position to be an advocate for what Snyder should do, but NPR does have responsibility over its own use of language,” he wrote. “The name of a football team is not something worth clinging to if it challenges our fundamental social and political structure. To me, the clock is ticking on the team name and what NPR should do about using it.”

Voice Sports Editor Chris Almeida, however, wrote in the Voice’s print edition in Dec. 2013 that those who are against the Redskins name should attack other teams with equally derogatory representations of Native Americans that remain, such as the Florida State Seminoles and the Kansas City Chiefs, and not exclusively focus on the Redskins.

“To be against the Redskins name is hip,” he wrote. “Being a part of the majority that hates the Redskins is a way to ease one’s majority guilt, or to seem socially aware while avoiding truly investing oneself in an issue. People who love using the “racist” or “sexist” card, or whatever it may be, are as much of a problem as bigots themselves.”

While the Voice does plan to discuss the turning tide against the use of team’s name, Editor-in-Chief Connor Jones refused to comment. (Note: Vox did not actually reach out to Jones for comment.)

Readers: what do you think? Should we continue to use the name? Shouldn’t we be fairly progressive relative to our older media sibling?

(Editor’s note: The questions above are a guideline for all you anonymous commenters who sadistically enjoy trashing Vox and each other. Vox doesn’t really care about moral/liberal opinions or your general trolling, but fire away anyways).

Photo: Beanhammer via Flickr

9 Comments on “NPR is latest to tackle Washington Redskins’ name controversy: is the Voice next?

  1. “People who love using the “racist” or “sexist” card, or whatever it may be, are as much of a problem as bigots themselves.”

    No. That’s idiotic.

  2. Americans never felted guilty about historical genocide…
    everything they know of American Indians.. cames from a hundred years of Hollywood mythologys… dressed as manifest destiny patriotism…

  3. What I find amazing is that the whiney “PC” crowd gladly takes aim at the Washington Redskins while ignoring schools across the country that are still using the SAME team name. One of those schools is Red Mesa High in Arizona — located on a Navajo reservation. That’s right. A Navajo reservation school known as the “Red Mesa High REDSKINS.” And apparently the nearly 100% Navajo student body has zero problem with it. Gee. You know why? Because it’s a FABRICATED issue that doesn’t really offend anyone. It just gives the ‘progressive’ crowd something to b**ch and moan about so they can still feel relevant (hi, Bob Costas! Hi, NPR!).

    America is tired of liberals telling them what they should and shouldn’t be ‘offended’ by. America can think for itself – they don’t need Bob Costas, The Huffington Post or NPR to serve as the moral compass of the country. Seriously. If “Redskins” causes you gastric distress and tailspins you into a black pit of despair, you’ve got deep issues that won’t be resolved by renaming a sports team.

  4. Pingback: Redskins Roundup: Team Chemistry Edition | DC Pro Sports Report

  5. Hey Vox, great to see you’re addressing the issue. Deserves as much attention as it’s getting from the national media. Just a heads-up though — your older media sibling isn’t exactly behind the times in this particular case. From November: http://issuu.com/the_hoya/docs/issuu_11.22.13_b

  6. “Voice Sports Editor Chris Almeida, however, wrote in the Voice’s print edition in Dec. 2013 that those who are against the Redskins name should attack other teams with equally derogatory representations of Native Americans that remain, such as the Florida State Seminoles and the Kansas City Chiefs, and not exclusively focus on the Redskins.”

    “Chiefs” and “Seminoles” are not racial slurs. Moreover, while “Chiefs” and the arrowhead symbology is problematic, the Seminole Tribe and Florida State University have a longstanding collaboration and the Tribe has blessed the use of the name as the FSU mascot. Completely different situation.

  7. Read the whole column. All of this is addressed.

  8. PC Police: Maybe the Voice should look to see if its own name is a derogatory slight to the mute. Vocal-ists!

  9. As already hinted at, this one team and its name is not the real issue. It is that any non-native team that uses a Native American identity is trivializing a culture that was almost wiped out by genocide. The change in Washington would be symbolic of the changes that need to be done at all levels, particularly in public schools where student learn that the use of stereotypes is OK; such as the “Trail of Tears” banners that were used by two Alabama High Schools to taunt their “Indian” opponents. Since schools are public agencies, there is no issue of free speech; these racist practices create a hostile environment that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However when the State of Michigan ask the Dept of Education to agree, the case was summarily dismissed. That should have been the big story of 2013, not the R*dskins.

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