Opinion | Sports

Matthew Murguia: The facts are clear on Washington NFL mascot

The logo for the Change the Mascot campaign

Matthew Murguia, a longtime federal government employee, explains why the Washington NFL team must eliminate its racist mascot:
For me, as a Washington, D.C, area resident for the past 28 years, I have never felt comfortable rooting for the team because of its name. Many arguments have been made to keep the name, but none stand up to even a simple critique. Here is my view on each.

The word “redskins” is not racist; this is political correctness run amok. Nearly every modern American dictionary classifies the word as “racist” or “patently offensive.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has now twice ruled the word is disparaging. Random House Dictionary listed it as racist in 1966. The Oxford English Dictionary says it is “dated or offensive.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary says it is “usually offensive.” No source classifies the word as an honor or term of respect. “Political correctness” has always played a role in the social and cultural development of our country. We have, thankfully and belatedly, virtually banned the use of the “n-word” and avoided or stopped using derogatory terms such as "queer" and "retard," for example. Why is it that the ones who cry “political correctness” are usually never the focus of it?

It is part of the history of Washington, D.C. True, “redskins” was the name of the team when it moved to D.C. in 1937. But just because something is historical doesn’t make it right or insulate it from change. Examples include: Jim Crow laws, non-integrated sports teams, Confederate flags on government buildings, a segregated military, voting rights for women, marriage, and the Washington Wizards.

Why bring it up now? This is not a new issue, it is just receiving more attention. NCAI, the umbrella organization of roughly 165 federally recognized tribes in the U.S., started its efforts to eliminate negative stereotypes in 1968. A group of Indian leaders sent a letter in 1972 to the NFL president stating the name was disparaging. The first lawsuit was filed in 1992. The NCAI passed a resolution in 1993 calling for a name change, and the NAACP did the same in 1999. The U.S Commission on Human Rights called for an end to such mascots in 2001.

Get the Story:
Matthew Murguia: Every Argument for 'Redskins' Is Bogus (Indian Country Today 8/22)

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