Keeping Score

A Mysterious Defense of The Washington Redskins Name

Washington owner Dan Snyder has hired Lanny Davis, a veteran D.C. crisis manager, to vouch for the team's nickname. In an interview, Davis' logic falls short.

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Alex Brandon / AP

FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, Zena "Chief Z" Williams, unofficial mascot of the Washington Redskins, signs autographs during fan appreciation day at the Redskins' NFL football training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., Aug. 4, 2012.

The fight over the Washington Redskins name has intensified this week. It started, actually, last Friday, when President Obama weighed in during an interview with the Associated Press. “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,” Obama said.  Veteran D.C. PR-rep and crisis manager Lanny Davis — whose prior clients have included Bill Clinton during the impeachment process, a dictator from Equatorial Guinea, and an Ivory Coast strongman, as well as the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the National Women’s History Museum — responded in a statement: “As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the president is not aware that in a highly respected Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name ‘Washington Redskins.’

The NFL said it will meet next month with Native American leaders to discuss the name. On Wednesday, Snyder released a letter to fans and season ticket holders, in which he defended the name, but softened his tone. “I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,” Snyder wrote. Back in May, Snyder told USA Today: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Davis, now the co-founder of the Purple Nation Solutions public affairs firm, hit the airwaves to rep Snyder’s perspective: one radio interview, on 106.7 The Fan in D.C., was particularly telling. During the discussion, as the Washington Post reported, Davis did admit that Snyder’s “you can use caps” comment had “the wrong flavor” to it.

(MORE: Washington Redskins owner Dan Synder says he won’t change the team’s nickname)

He then used very suspect logic to defend the team.

The interviewer, Holden Kushner, and Davis are both Jewish. At one point, Kushner asked Davis: “how can you not be more sympathetic to [the Native American] cause, given that we’ve been through [discrimination, persecution] a lot?”  Davis’ response:

“I am,” Davis said. “For me, it doesn’t matter what the number is; if you’re offending someone, you should be sorry for that. Especially a religious or ethnic group that’s been persecuted over the years, the way that Native Americans have. Shame on American history, what we did to Native Americans, we being the white man. And Jews have a history of persecution; for goodness sakes, the Holocaust. So I couldn’t agree with you more; we have to be respectful of every injured feeling, and it’s not a quantity.”

End of discussion, right? Clearly, the Redskins name offends “someone”: according to the decade-old Annenberg poll Davis himself cited in his response to Obama, 9% of Native Americans didn’t support the name. There’s no reason to think that the Native Americans who say they are offended aren’t actually offended. What do the average Native Americans have to gain by lying about their feelings? It’s not like they’d receive some kind of economic windfall if the Redskins changed their name. The benefit is purely psychic. Their offense is wholly believable, and understandable. And as Davis says, “we have to be respectful of every injured feeling, and it’s not a quantity.” Change the name — like other sports teams have done — problem solved.

Here comes the but:

“But that doesn’t mean a name of the team that’s 80 years old should be changed,” he continued. “We can be open and kind, to soothe people’s feelings, and certainly not diminish it, even if it’s just one. And that’s all Roger Goodell meant by his statement, is that we have to be sensitive and aware that people’s feelings are at risk here, even if it’s offending one person.”

So we have to be sensitive to the one offended person, but can’t change the name, because it’s been around for a long time.  Sorry, offended person. We love the name too much, for too long.

More Davis:

“But to change a name and then to have selective outrage, with Congress and tribes and press conferences just mentioning the Redskins, and not mentioning the Tomahawk Chop?” Davis said. “For goodness sakes, I’m a Washington Nationals fan. When I see the Atlanta Braves [fans] doing that Tomahawk Chop, it irritates the heck out of me, but it’s not because I’m thinking that they intend to be disrespectful to Native Americans. It’s about irritating me as a Washington Nationals fan. So it’s just the selective outrage that I think is unfair.”

This is a classic PR tactic: deflect the issue at hand elsewhere. One problem is that the Tomahawk Chop, and the Redskins nickname, are very different things. The Tomahawk Chop is stupid, and some Native Americans take offense. But it’s a form of fan expression. Sure, the Atlanta Braves, and any other team, could try to ban the Tomahawk Chop in their stadiums. Such a policy would be very difficult to enforce. And, it puts teams in the tricky business of regulating speech.

A team has control over a team nickname. By keeping the Redskins name, Snyder is making an active decision to offend someone. He has the power to reverse that decision.

One more bit from Davis:

“But to get to your point, it’s not a matter of quantity. If people are offended, we should be respectful of that, care about that, and tell people we care about that. But also say, we just have to say to you that this is an 80-year-old name, we sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ to honor the Native Americans, and it’s not a term of disrespect.”

Really? Fans sing “Hail to the Redskins” after a touchdown to “honor the Native Americans?’” And not because they’re pumped that the Redskins scored a touchdown?

Snyder hired Davis to spread his side of the story. In Davis’ own defense of the Redskins name, he’s shown it’s pretty indefensible.

(MORE: Native Americans Tackle Redskins At Press Conference)

122 comments
metal4magic
metal4magic

Children as young as 5 years old are killing themselves over this issue. The largest cultural youth suicide epidemic in human history is a real crisis, it's not something for overgrown school yard bullies to kick around. This is not a freedom of speech issue, it is not a who is the bigger bully issue, it is not an "I'm used to this name and I'm used to getting my way" issue, it is a matter of life and death and ignorance makes you look evil if little children have to die for your ignorance. If you don't know the truth about this crisis do some research into why this IS A REAL PROBLEM. The nice people who made this commercial actually DO represent almost every tribal government in the USA, and the youth suicide crisis is what prompted their action. The NCAI has been around since 1944. If you don't even know who they are you could not possibly know anything about this issue. The NCAI is a good place to start but it is just the beginning. You could also do a search on Native youth suicide pacts, the ten boys from the Pine Ridge Reservation got plenty of coverage overseas after they drew numbers then hung themselves one by one, but you can find a few articles published here in the USA too if you dig.If your opinion is worth sharing, it is worth researching. 

ClariceKing
ClariceKing

Must have only asked ten people whos' aunt on the mothers side knew a person who's great-great grandmother was part Native. Ignore the blue eyes

ThomasWhitener
ThomasWhitener

I am a mut of a person. German, Scottish, Spanish, English, Cherokee, and who knows what else. I was born in Washington, D.C. and resided in Maryland my first 17 years of life. The Washington Redskins should hold on to their name. It brings pride to me. I am proud of my reddish tint. All you liberal whinners leave our land if you want to make me feel even better. Hail to the REDSKINS, forever!!!!!

jay_asdf
jay_asdf

Um, Teams choose mascots that are badass. Political correctness gone wild here.

PatrickCascegno
PatrickCascegno

Rename them the Washington Hogs after their iconic fans!

notagain417
notagain417

I am an American Indian from Oklahoma and am in agreement with most of the my elders we are tired of being spoken for again! There is a difference between the American Indian population and the Indian activists. A team name is something that is revered, it is a moniker of spirit and pride. Bringing so many people together with one common purpose to rally their team to victory. I personally take pride in such a great experience in bringing do many people together on a Sunday afternoon or Monday night. As many have said there are so many other important things needing to be settled out there. But what upsets me as an American Indian is the ignorance of American people of American Indian history. We did not just lose our land we lost 3/4 of our race. We lost our right to speak our language to practice our religion or even keep our birth names. We lost our rights as human beings. So plz before shooting yours mouths off educate yourselves. Because as an American it is embarrassing to see the ignorance of my people. Thank You to the many countless men an women who have lost their lives to give me this opportunity to speak freely in a free nation.

zachsley0917
zachsley0917

And Obama offends half the country on a daily basis and doesn't seem to care so.. hypocrisy is rampant.

KirkMac
KirkMac

I am offended that he author of this article stereotypes Jewish people to make his point. What does being Jewish have to do with anything- all Jewish people have to feel outrage in lock-step?!Th redskins organization is a business. If fans (customers) want the name changed then let them vote with their attendance. But keep the politicians, special interest groups and liberal reporters out of it. They all make it sound as though the millions of dollars put into the brand over the decades means nothing. Try telling that to Coke.

TristanHoward
TristanHoward

This comment board makes me ashamed of my country and the people in it. So much senseless hate

zachsley0917
zachsley0917

I can't believe with all the stuff going on in our country this is actually a concern. Boo hoo the natives had a rough time when someone else wanted their land. Such has been the case since the beginning of time. If you're so concerned about offending such a tiny number of people and have the gall to mention religious groups, then lets fight every anti-Christian comment or production that comes out. God knows the Christian's over time have suffered more persecution than the Jews, Natives, or Blacks by a HUGE margin. No one seems to care about us tho. In fact, it's the opposite. So no, I don't care if some snooty redskins have a problem with the name redskins. And no, as a white person I don't feel any remorse or guilt about our history whatsoever. Lets get over it and quit playing favorites. It's their team and they can name it what they want. As for Obama, focus on the country you're ruining you worthless sack of crap. As for the natives, boo hoo. Bring back Colonel Reb while you're at it. What a pathetic country we have become. We deserve to be destroyed by the Muslims.

SteveEhrlich
SteveEhrlich

Native Americans are a pain in the ass. They want to get rid of Columbus Day, the Redskins. Next they'll want redskin potatoes renamed. They just want attention because nobody knows who they are.



kf6gsd
kf6gsd

The majority of, not only sports fans, but Americans and Canadians do not know what is referred to as the 'rest of the story' with the founder of this football team.  Nobody cares.  Nobody likes homework.So be it.

   Sunday night Football, this Sunday, October 13, 2013, one of the commentators made it his responsibility (reading from a teleprompter?), during the Washington/Dallas game, to go on national television with what has to have been the most disgusting racist remarks ever made, intentionally made, against the Washington football team's name.   

   This commentator should be required to elaborate as to whether his tirade had been prepared or endorsed and approved by the producers of the Sunday night sports program.

   The public has the right to know.

    Any event, Sunday Night Football is off my program.  Life's too short.  Don't got no timefor racist rabble-rousers .

falcon269
falcon269

There is a pejorative for every minority group, sometimes several. If redskin is not the pejorative for American Indians, what is?

getglenn56
getglenn56

The French were the first to scalp and Indians copied it in retaliation. There was a bounty placed on scalps gotten from Indians, men, women, or children. Some whites got so greedy that they would start scalping each other for the bounty (white on white crime). When this was discovered, the demand that a scalp has to have "some of the redskin still on it" as proof. 

Learn your history, or read a book sometime.....

countryjustice
countryjustice

Personally I want the name to change, but I want it to happen organically and fiscally, and not as a mandate from the top of the NFL.  I want Dan Snyder to feel the pinch of enough people not shoveling money into his coffers until he caves.  Or, better still, I want Dan Snyder to realize he can print money by re-naming the team and selling all new licensed merchandise, or maybe even get an all new stadium out of the arrangement.  

I'm skeptical that it'll happen in the near future, but it's inevitable that enough people will eventually find the name distasteful enough to sway him toward change.  Money talks.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

Whine, whine, whine. Don't you leftists have more important things to worry about than the nicknames of NFL teams? If you don't like their name, just support another team. End of story.

RoseMarieRailey
RoseMarieRailey

This battle over the Redskins name has gone on for years. I live in Florida but grew up in Washington. I, to this day wear my Redskin colors and the name. Funny, no one complained when they were Super Bowl winners. I am proud of where I came from, the team and the team name. I take offense that the President thinks he has the right to involve himself in this issue, when he is running this cojntry and our independent thinking into the ground.

HarryHasswhol
HarryHasswhol

recently dan snyder the owner of this racist team, who once considered a lawsuit against a newspaper for what he saw as discrimination (hmmmmm, how terribly interesting and ironic) wrote a letter (actually, most likely written by his lawyer now that he knows the end is near for this team name) to the fans "customers" of his team and told them why he is a racist and doesnt want to stop being one. and part of his weak defense im that letter he mentioned that their coach at the time went to an Indian Fund to consult on the design of their uniforms. in typical snyder fashion, this also has ALREADY , just days later, blown up in his face as the same org has since denounced their relatinship with the r-word. get it through your thick skull, enough people do not want to hear this word in todays culture..

http://hamptonroads.com/2013/10/officials-indian-school-denounce-redskins-name

HarryHasswhol
HarryHasswhol

first of all, the polls that every redskin fan cites is either (a) at least 9 yrs old now or (b) an unscientific poll meaning it didnt poll a correct number of people and the right subjects. a lot has changed on this subject just in the last year. second of all, they keep citing these polls as if the decision is going to come strictly from the results of these polls. you are WASTING your time if you think you do. the team is under massive scrutiny right now with all kinds of pressure to change it. and it will finally and rightfully be changed soon. and finally, if these supporters of this racist named team truly cared, they wouldnt be sitting on their ass in front of a computer reading article after article on this subject. the only way their racist team has a chance is there must be equal PUBLIC support FOR the name. and i dont see anybody protesting the protestors. i dont see anyone really publicly supporting it. and i def see a massive difference in the number of recognized people against the name vs for it. this is a slam dunk...this awful name will be changed. its only a matter of when. id say within a year or two tops.

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

Want to rename the team to reflect Washington DC?  How about the "Elites"?  Or the "Subsidized"?

JohnDavidDeatherage
JohnDavidDeatherage

"9% of native American's didn't support the name [Redskins]."   Wow, a whole 9 percent.

markbisone
markbisone

"What do the average Native Americans have to gain by lying about their feelings?"

This is a question that left wing ninnies should ask themselves every time they see Al Sharpton and his ilk slither into frame on MSNBC.  The benefit of claiming victim status in 21st century America is not "purely psychic."  It confers on the claimant a perverse moral authority and financial advantage that seeps into every social interaction and facet of modern American life.   Worst of all, it disincentivizes the kind of  tougher, more individualistic behavior that is required for a society to thrive and prosper.  When society capitulates to every minor emotional outcry, the bulk of people who take things in stride and don't take offense at the drop of a hat (i.e. something as stupid as a football team's name) become less valued than the few histrionic bed-wetters whose egos are so fragile they can't function without constant reassuring, apologizing, hand-holding and cheerleading.  This pretty much describes the American republic in its twilight: 16 trillion in debt, 90 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the IRS and the post office is set to run the health insurance industry and both Time magazine and the president are talking about a football team's name.   If Orwell had penned this tale, we'd have a good laugh, instead of this queasy feeling that the wrong people have been rewarded for too long, and the inmates are running the asylum.

"Such a policy would be very difficult to enforce. And, it puts teams in the tricky business of regulating speech."

Yeah, such tricky business, that speech regulation.  Luckily, the progressive Left always seems up to the task.  Hey, maybe you geniuses can tackle the Vikings next.  I heard there's a granny in northern Minnesota who took umbrage, and such vile anti-Scandinavian sentiment can scarcely go unpunished in this new multicultural Utopia of yours.

acardens
acardens

I think all this bull-$hit about changing the Washington Redskins name is an other dirty maneuver from the left to deflect the attention from the REAL ISSUUES, such as  obama care, the debt ceiling, governemt shutdown...etc etc. For God's sake! Leave the name alone. If you gonna change the name to an NFL team just because some a$$holes feel offened by the nickname, let's change the name to the rest of the sports teams that have native americans nicknames too. It seems to me that they need an other George Zimmerman trial.

SteveJohnson
SteveJohnson

"By keeping the Redskins name, Snyder is making an active decision to offend someone."

Someone? That’s all it takes? So if anyone is offended by anything, it has to go?

Nonsense.

pcwag33
pcwag33

The cheesy NFL needs some real competition.  But unfortunately, like other big money-owned enterprises, there is a law-facilitated monopoly. 

PatAlvarez
PatAlvarez

Nice try Time but no one but a small minority wants the name changed.  Stop trying to shove your own liberal opinions down our throats.

JacobJones
JacobJones

LOL.. Everything boils down to pathetic political hackery, no matter what the issue.. Hello?.. I'm from Texas, ans I am as conservative as just about anyone who's not completely nuts, and I say this is an easy call.. Time to change the name, Dan.. It's beyond offensive, and is way more offensive than "chiefs, braves, indians, etc," which should all probably be renamed, too.. 

And too the people screaming and moaning about political correctness, give it a rest.. Some things need correcting..

DemoraChancellor
DemoraChancellor

@notagain417 I to an American Indian . My Great- grandfather (a chief) walked the Trail of Tears. Many  died and for what? Because we had and have red skin mainly. Mostly because we had land that the wanted money for and we had no use for money. Then a hundred or so years later someone wanted to name a football team the Redskins and now some find it in bad taste. No one asked to be born a different color or having a different language. God did that. As for the Redskin team leave them alone they are doing bad enough as it is and I am a fan.  What about the Virginia Tec. Hokies? Ever wonder what that name means? It is a castrated turkey. Go figure. So whats wrong with redskin?

jima9426
jima9426

@notagain417 I'm also an American of "indigenous descent" so I have to ask, don't you understand that you really don't know what's best for you? Only elitist liberals are enlightened enough to know just how offended you actually are, but unaware of it. And thank God for them or the rest of us wouldn't know how to tie our shoes or balance our check books,

momof7
momof7

@notagain417 I got goosebumps reading your post.  Thank you for sharing your story

zachsley0917
zachsley0917

There's nothing hateful about it. I suspect if the Dallas Whiteskins came to town there wouldn't be much of an issue because we "deserve it" anyway. Bull. Every race and religious group has their moments of persecution, but only the weak feel the need to hold onto it and bring it up as often as possible. We have a bunch of whining and acommodating instead of leading and persevering. No wonder the country is going down the toilet. We have become a herd of spoiled wimps!

Tobes
Tobes

@zachsley0917 I'm sorry, 'the God knows the Christian's over time have suffered more persecution than the Jews, Natives, or Blacks by a HUGE margin.' Really? Um... what about apartheid in South Africa, umm... the fact that in your own country, the United States, black people were segregated.... umm... the Holocaust under the Nazis, under Hitler who was a Christian himself. I'm sorry, but to quote yourself "boo hoo" to the Christians as well. 

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@SteveEhrlich  

steve ehrlich is a pain in the ass. he gets butt-hurt over petty things. next, he'll get butt-hurt over someone else's opinion differing from his own. he just wants attention because nobody cares what he has to say

twoiron
twoiron

@countryjustice ,

Why is it OK to call black Americans, "blacks" when that name is all about  their skin color? 

Why is it OK to call the Congressional Black Caucus, when that has clearly everything to do with the color of their skin? Many of them make their livings because they are black and in Congress, rather than in spite of it.      

This entire issue is much ado about nothing...PC for the sake of having something to complain about. It is boring. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@RoseMarieRailey he involves himself because he is a racist, just like he opened his mouth reference to the Trayvon Martin case and when is professor friend got arrested calling a white cop stupid for arresting his black friend. F-ing libs just do not get it Obama is a racist hiding behind the Oval office, he needs to act like a president not a brother with power in an open forum opening is big mouth causing racial division.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@HarryHasswhol yes it will be changed the owner wants to see if the washington savages might be good, or the alcoholics that has a ring to that runs true. what a moron.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@markbisone I heard the dolphins were complaining about there image on the side of a football helmet, something about their bad side.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@SteveJohnson Thats right I am half Italian and my Italian half resents the Sopranos image of the Italian people.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

@pcwag33 - The competition is soccer. The kids who used to play football in school are being pulled out of football by mommy and daddy because they don't want their kids to get hurt. No kids playing = fewer future fans.

DanielWKauffmanJr
DanielWKauffmanJr

@JacobJones Well I am from Kentucky and my Great Aunt as a young boy told me., :"You just look white, Danny never forget that you are really Cherokee"  For some reason I am not offended, What tribe are your ancestors from?

SteveJohnson
SteveJohnson

@JacobJones The US military does not name their helicopters after Indians to be disrespectful.  It is a sign of respect.

TristanHoward
TristanHoward

@zachsley0917 There is alot of hate on this message board. You are obviously grammatically challenged and need to work on your reading comprehension skills

countryjustice
countryjustice

@twoiron You know, I was going to try to come up with a rational response, but then you went and said:

"
Many of them make their livings because they are black and in Congress."

And then I figured "Yeah, nevermind."

JacobJones
JacobJones

It does not matter if you're offended, or not.. Plenty are..

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@TristanHoward

 you are obviously spelling challenged (a lot, not alot) and need to work on your spelling skills. and just like your argument, mine has nothing to back it up. clever attempt to distract from the fact that he shot your argument down by picking on grammar, but guess what? you never addressed his points. because you've got nothing. fail.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@countryjustice @twoiron Semantics moron . stop with the race card BS.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

DanielWKauffmanJr
DanielWKauffmanJr

@daena.vassar @SteveJohnson @JacobJones Don't really see that name being a source of pride for fans but as someone who has lived in mobile  home parks on more than one occasion, thank you for reinforcing my stereotypic assumptions about people who are so hung up on political correctness 

daena.vassar
daena.vassar

@SteveJohnson @JacobJones Think about how you would feel if the team was called "WHITE TRAILER TRASH".  Even if it did go on for decades, and apparently "no one" was offended by it.

SteveJohnson
SteveJohnson

@JacobJones Which begs the question:  does EVERYTHING that offends a small group of people need to be removed or changed?

If not, what is the determining factor?  WHICH people are offended?  What about Equal Protection?