August 17, 2013

The Ed Show -- Mar 6, 2013

It's an incremental game, football. So too with progressive politics. Often, it's painfully incremental, but the key to victory with both is to stake your ground and keep marching down the field for even more.

When team owner Dan Snyder flat out refuses to consider a name change as a matter of some white privilege principle of being the one to decide when a slur is offensive, it's time to get tactical and do an end run around Snyder.

So CREDO has opted to petition new Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos to institute a editorial policy for his paper to discontinue the use of the word "Redskin" in reference to the team:

Supporters of the name have argued that it shouldn't be changed because it is tradition and part of the team's history and culture. But in the U.S., we've changed a lot of traditions that we once followed when we realized they were wrong or offensive. This is one of those times, yet team owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly refused to make a change.

We are well past the point that media outlets like the Washington Post should be complicit in supporting such an offensive name. There's no reason the Washington Post need to use the name in its coverage. Recently, the Kansas City Star, the Washington City Paper, and other media outlets said they will no longer use the name "Redskins" when referring to the team.

Despite his stubbornness, it's clear that Snyder has been feeling the heat. Pressure over the past few years has compelled him to engage in increasingly absurd stunts to defend his stubborn refusal to change the name, like assigning employees to build lists of high school teams with the name "Redskins" and trotting out a man named Chief Dodson, who was not an actual chief, to explain that his people were honored by the name. But continuing to engage in these tactics instead of changing the name will appear even more ridiculous if the hometown newspaper of the team decides to stop referring to the "Redskins" by name.

With Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' recent purchase of the Washington Post, now is the perfect time to change the tone and stop using the name. Not only will this policy significantly increase pressure on Snyder to choose a new name for the team--dropping such an offensive and embarrassing name is simply the right thing to do.

Bezos knows that the world is watching closely to see how he'll influence the direction of the Washington Post. By signing this petition, you can help guide the debate over the team name and the discussion of how Bezos should lead. He knows that if he starts out his new term as owner by appearing to racially insensitive, it will not only have consequences for his future leading the Post, but could also become a PR nightmare for him as the head of Amazon.

You can add your name to the petition here.

As an editor, it does make things a little awkward for WaPo, but nothing that cannot be handled. To wit: "Last night, Washington beat the Niners by a score of 10-7. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III threw four interceptions, but Washington still won thanks to a punt returned for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter." See? Not super eloquent, but gets the job done.

And for the record, there are several teams that have changed their names to less offensive choices. Stanford University opted to change their team name to Cardinal (the color, not the bird) from the Indians (only after the powers-that-be rejected the student-chosen name of Stanford Robber Barons) and made a tree their mascot. Miami University went from Redskins to Red Hawks.

Red Hawks is one of the suggested name changes for Washington as well as Pigskins (which would also correspond well with the nickname for their offensive line, The Hogs), although I think it would be nice to see them embrace what the local area is truly known for:

The Washington Conventional Wisdom
The Washington Villagers
The Washington Cocktail Circuit
The Beltway Bubble
The Washington Lobbyists
The DC Gridlock

There is a plethora of options. But one option should be off the table and that's the current name of the team. Hopefully, if we can pressure the paper of record for the team to stop using it, we will incrementally push Snyder to our goal of a new name altogether.

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