Art Monk, John Riggins, Doug Williams, and Joe Gibbs…these were my childhood heroes. I have watched this team for more than 40 years.
The team, under the ownership of Mr. Daniel Snyder, has lost its luster.
The name is a dictionary defined racial slur.
Mr. Snyder says the name honors Native Americans.
In Idaho, a school district recently retired the name R-skins from its high school name. The high school responded to the local Shoshone-Bannock tribe, which said that the continued use of the name would only honor genocide. A tribal position paper says, “We do not have a name for r-dskin in our language. The origin of the name r-dskin refers to the name colonists made up. These names clearly delineated Indian people as a separate race of people who had no civil rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
The Idaho school district has joined the ranks of over 2,000 schools that have eliminated Native American mascots.
Psychological research finds that stereotypical logos and mascots damage the education of children and lead to bullying.
The first owner of the team, George Preston Marshall, was a bigot and last NFL owner to integrate his team in 1962. He coined the name not to honor Native Americans but to use the name, fake Native American dancing, and singing Dixie at half time to appeal to his segregated Southern audiences.
Why should Jews care? Think about how names and stereotypes contributed to genocide against Jews. Think about how even in recent years, powerful people have engaged in the use of anti-Semitic tropes. Just last year, there was a Jewish mascot depicting a Jew awash in money in parade in Belgium.
Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League have called for the immediate retirement of the R-skins name and logo.
Currently, the Montgomery County Council is considering a resolution asking Mr. Snyder to change the name of the team. Hopefully the council joins others in Alexandria, Arlington, and the District of Columbia that have passed these resolutions.
I co-founded a group called Rebrand Washington Football that collects petitions and seeks to galvanize public opinion against the name. You can look at our website to see how to get involved.
During the High Holidays, we repent for our sins. Have we, myself included, sinned by rooting for a team that dishonors and denigrates Native Americans. Aren’t we all created in the image of the creator, and thus we must respect the holy dignity of everyone?
This week, the Washington Post columnist, Courtland Milloy, wrote, “Change the name. Or lose the team.” That about sums it up.