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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 30, 2013 at 7:06 AM

Sports team names and racial slurs

Redskins should be given a free pass

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III passes the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III passes the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The push to eliminate the Redskins as a sports team name is overreach [“D.C. football team name offends Native Americans,” Opinion, Nov. 28].

What’s next? Is the term Fighting Irish too reminiscent of saloon brawling, in which Irish often figured prominently; is the name Vikings overplaying a dark era of long-ship violence that’s long gone; or maybe Indians should be next, arguably also seen as a demeaning stereotype in this context.

Political correctness has become a game of empowering the private rage of a few, no matter what the cost. Maybe, the world’s real issues and problems are so daunting there’s a need to invent new ones out of pain or frustration. But that effort is misguided.

Studies show that redskin is not used in a racist or disparaging way in today’s world, and hasn’t been for generations. Certainly, sports team names were not given in that spirit and should not be targeted.

There are words that do have a pernicious linkage to racism, which are no longer used. But, just as The Fighting Irish or the Vikings don’t evoke the same opprobrium, Redskins should be given a pass. Any lingering racist use of the term should be ignored and seen as the weakness it is.

In the movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” an era in which the words redskins and palefaces were likely racist, both words are used and the speaker quickly follows with “no offense.” And, in each case, another responds “none taken.” Of course, in the movie, both speakers were on the same side fighting the real villains. I think the same is true today.

— Charles DeRykus, Port Townsend

Comments | More in Sports | Topics: Redskins, sports

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