Over the last year, I’ve had dozens of friends approach me like a tree-hugging hippie would approach the Westboro Baptist Church.
“Isaac…” they’d take a serious tone. “Do you think the Washington R*dskins — err — the Washington FOOTBALL team — should change their name?”
Many of them would get really close to me when they asked this question, as if they were trying to smell the racism on my skin, ready to jump me if I had the audacity to say the R*dskins have the right to keep their name or that it wasn’t offensive.
Of course, I’m not an idiot, and being a die-hard R*dskins fan doesn’t make me oblivious to a name that has roots in hatred, pillaging and genocide (and, in some cases, pride and heritage, but we won’t talk about that here). What being a Washington Football fan does do is give me some perspective on what its like to be called a racist for rooting for a crappy football team since you were in diapers whose name you didn’t know really meant anything until the age of 16.
So with that, and here, I’ll give the answer to all these brilliant, revolutionary, second comings of Martin Luther King Jr. who think because they tweet that the R*dskins should change their name they have somehow distanced themselves from their ancestors who decimated, raped, killed, robbed and essentially quarantined a group of people that never asked us to be here in the first place:
Yes, the R*dskins should change their name. I do not care what their name is as long as they are from Washington D.C. and they show up on Sundays so I can escape the day-to-day grind with a beer and my old man and cheer wildly against the Cowgirls. But, if the Washington Football Team is going to change their name, and I am going to need to go on defending myself against these “Native American racist hunters” for the rest of time, then the Pittsburgh Pirates should change their name, too. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the Cleveland INDIANS (YOU KNOW, THAT FRANCHISE THAT STILL THINKS NATIVE AMERICANS AND INDIANS ARE THE SAME). And the Kansas City Chiefs. And the New Orleans Saints. And countless other franchises who have anything from insensitive to downright offensive names for their teams.
Do you know what Pirates do? They prey on weak and unarmed people, raid them in the open water, rape their women and children, steal their valuables, their gasoline, their food, trash the engines of their boats and then leave them at sea to die.
Is that really the kind of thing Pittsburgh wants to glorify? If you think that Native Americans are more interested in the Washington Football Team changing their name than — oh, I don’t know — getting land and money and rights and reparations, how do you think survivors of pirate attacks would feel if they ever walked into PNC Park? We write stories about rape and violence that require “trigger warnings” in the beginning (and rightfully so), but we’ll parade around giant flags with eye-patch-wearing men that are supposed to be representations of some of the coldest criminals in the world. Am I missing something?
Yet, the R*dskin firing squad will run around saying things like, “would you name your team the Washington N*****s?”
No, idiot, I wouldn’t. But would you name your team the Pittsburgh Pedophiles? Because Pirates and Pedophiles have about as much in common as “R*dskin” and “N****r” do in 21st century America, so maybe you should find a new horse to beat on.
Still, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — who may as well just be the Tampa Bay Pirates — go unbothered as they gloat around their war ships that have killed countless women and children, firing off cannons that represent nothing but murder and destruction every time they score a touchdown. The Cleveland Indians, whose name perpetuates one of the most offensive and idiotic misunderstandings in the history of the world, are rarely in national headlines. The New Orleans Saints, whose name could just as easily be the New Orleans Maccabees, or the New Orleans Jews, roster players and hire coaches who distribute and receive money to try and end other players’ careers. Saints? Really? Where is the pope? Where are the G-d fearing Christians here to defend the way the most sacred characters of their scripture are being represented on the football field?
Add to all this the context of competitive sports in general, the way fans turn a blind eye to criminal players and corrupt owners and an NCAA that takes advantage of countless teenagers a year, and what do you have? You have a group of people so obsessed, so delusional, that they will do things like publish articles on how the R*dskins should change their name on a website that profits off of circulating news about the players they could be writing about who beat their wives or killed their girlfriends or got arrested for driving 120 miles per hour with a BAC that was twice the legal limit.
So I implore you, R*dskin hating nation, keep up the good fight. Truly, with no sarcasm, I believe you’re doing the right thing. If it were up to me I’d send Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder in a rocket ship to Mars, switch the name to the Washington Warriors, donate millions to Native American communities across the country, lower the price of beer in the stadium to three dollars, sign Alfred Morris to a 15-year contract, and so forth. But, if you are going to write a letter to your senator tonight about how the Washington Football Team should change its name, and then you’re going slide into your Cleveland Indians jersey or go cheer for the good ol’ Buccos, maybe you should throw back a fat glass of clarity and go all in on your fight. Maybe, just maybe, you should have the fortitude of a brick wall instead of a water bottle and really go make a difference.
Lets get the Chiefs to change their name, to ban the offensive headgear worn by fans and mascots. Lets boycott Cleveland Indians games, bless the Saints stadium, stand up against the Pittsburgh Rapists, and drive each and every offensive name out of sports! If we’re going to parade around Native Americans we didn’t seem to give a shit about ten years go just to lambast every R*dskins fan out there, we might as well spread the criticism around a bit more, no?