Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll. This is basically the same result produced by the last major survey on this matter, conducted by Annenberg Public Policy Center in 2004.
Thus, the national movement to force the Redskins to change their name, though successful with many white liberals, has utterly failed to move the needle when it comes to Indians — the allegedly aggrieved group.
Here was the question:
The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a native American, is that name offensive, or doesn’t it bother you?
90 percent answered “does not bother me.” 9 percent said “offensive.” 1 percent had no opinion.
According to the Post, responses were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party, and proximity to reservations. Even among those who self-identified as liberal, 80 percent were not offended.
I love the quotations from Indians in the Post’s article. They include:
*I’m proud of being Native American and of the Redskins. I’m not ashamed of that at all. I like that name.
*I really don’t mind it. I like it. . . . We call other natives ‘skins,’ too.
*The name is nothing to me.
*For me, it doesn’t make any difference.
*Let’s start taking care of our people and quit worrying about names like Washington Redskins.
*I think the hoo-ha about it is crazy. To me it’s kind of like an honor. I think we should be proud to have a team named after us.
*If you want to look at it and find a reason for it to be offensive, then you can. I’ve talked about this with my family and friends, and it don’t bother me none. I’m proud that someone is recognizing Native Americans. Most people I see griping about it are not Native Americans.
*It’s 100 people okay with the situation, and one person has a problem with it, and all of a sudden everyone has to conform,. You’ll find people who don’t like puppies and kittens and Santa Claus. . . .
The name-change project has been driven by left-winger Ray Halbritter of the Oneida Nation. Halbritter and certain others associated with the Oneida Nation have become rich thanks to casinos.
Their wealth and involvement in Democratic politics have gained them the influence they deploy in the effort to force the Redskins to change their name. However, as the Washington Post’s poll shows, Halbritter and his fellow casino-enriched tribe members are out of touch with ordinary American Indians.
Halbritter and others who make it their business to get worked up over very little will continue their crusade against the Redskins. They will argue that it is inappropriate for the name of a professional sports team to offend even a small percentage of a population that historically has been badly mistreated in America.
But the poll demolishes the only good argument for a forced name change. That argument isn’t that the name “Redskins” offends some people — as the last Indian quoted above says, nowadays you can find people who are offended by just about anything.
The potentially winning argument is that “Redskins” is a racial slur. But if 90 percent of those said to be victims of the alleged slur aren’t offended, this argument evaporates. How can a word that’s inoffensive to the supposed target be a slur?
Hail to the Redskins!