One week ago, members of the Oneida Indian Nation, and others sympathetic to their cause, held a conference in Washington, DC to discuss how they plan to persuade the Washington Redskins to change their name to something less racist and offensive. This conference was a part of the “Change the Mascot” campaign, a movement started a few months ago by the Oneida Indians.
Thus far, the movement has been successful. Not only did the conference receive national attention, but the NFL agreed to move up their planned meeting with the Oneida Nation to discuss the nickname. Even Barack Obama weighed in on the issue, stating that “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team–even if it had a storied history–that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”
Perhaps the biggest achievement for the group to date, however, occurred last night. During half-time of the Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys football game, Bob Costas voiced his opinion on the controversy surrounding the Redskins mascot. Sunday Night Football is the most-watched primetime network broadcast, reaching 22.6 million viewers per week on average. This fact, combined with the the ethos stemming from Bob Costas’s many years as a sports broadcaster and habit of commenting on other important political issues, makes this perhaps the most-heard and appreciated message concerning the Redskins situation yet.
So, what did Mr. Costas have to say? First, he stated that he believes no one is intentionally being racist through the use of the Redskins mascot: “There is no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus toward Native Americans or wishes to disrespect them. This is undoubtedly also true of the vast majority of those who don’t think twice about the longstanding moniker. And in fact, as best can be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended.”
Before launching into what he personally thinks about the Redskins name, Costas makes an analysis of other sports teams with Native American-esque mascots, such as the Atlanta Braves. Costas says that the difference between teams such as the Braves, Chiefs, and Warriors is that “These nicknames honor, rather than demean,” comparing them to such monikers as the Vikings, Cowboys, or Patriots.
Costas then goes on to pose a much-needed question: “Ask yourself what the equivalent [nickname] would be, if directed toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.”
Once framed in this light, Costas shares his own, personal opinion regarding the situation: “When considered that way, ‘Redskins’ can’t possibly honor a heritage, or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.”
One can only think, by listening to or reading Costas’s speech, that he drew inspiration from WebProNews, itself.
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