This'll Slow You Up, Redskin!!

Generally speaking I try to keep this blog focused on comics, at least in spirit. This of course leaves a lot left unsaid in terms of my opinions on other subjects. Those who know me, even in passing, know that I consider myself to be somewhat left leaning in terms of my outlook on world affairs. Or call me a progressive or a liberal, it doesn't matter (even though I think judging someone's beliefs by labels is pretty narrow sighted.) One thing I am not is a sports fan, but despite this I am still exposed to sports, either when I forced to watch a game against my will due to social requirements, or when something creeps up in the news.

I can say that I am not a watcher of Fox News, only I get to hear the things from Fox News which are particularly incredulous. One of the things which I read recently was the debate over the use of the name Redskin for the Washington NFL team, with certain Native American groups thinking it is offensive, while others seeing no problem with the name. Without a firm backing in American history, it would still seem as though there are those who defend the name as it is some form of honour to Native American warriors (or at least so says Fox News co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck.) There also seems to be some Native Americans that think of it in the same way.

While I guess I can buy this seeing as many Native American do not find this name to be offensive, there is an interesting observation to be made (this is where the comics kind of comes in) and that is that the name is captured in pop culture from a previous generation as being something else:

From Western Fighters #12

In the history of warfare it is customary to address an enemy (even in this case if the Native is just an "enemy") as a term as something other than respectful. There are many examples of this, but most of them are racially offensive (I guess as a less racially offensive one, there is the term 'kraut' used to refer to a German soldier since the First World War.) In this case the white man is attacking or being attacked by a group of Natives, and the term that he uses is "Redskin", the specific term that is supposedly not offensive, at least in modern day. 60 years previous when racial sensitivity is not what it is now, the term was evidently used as slur or insult. I am not making the claim that one comic cover can explain the entire situation or what is deemed offensive, only that there was a time and place where this was offensive, and explicitly so.

30 Comments
30 Comments
Edited by _Gaff_

They should rename themselves. Change it to the name of a tribe that has a historical connection to the Washington area.

Or do what some of us Mississippians tried to do when we had to change are mascot due to racially offensive reasons.

Posted by tupiaz

However would you name a team after a slur and disrespect? That doesn't make sense. You are suppose to respect and honour the team not disrespect it.

Posted by DoomGuy

In a study in 2004 a bunch of Native Americans were asked if the name was offensive. Over 90% said no.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@doomguy: It is considered as a slur though, evidently to some comic writers in the 1940s.

Edited by Saint_Wildcard

@doomguy said:

In a study in 2004 a bunch of Native Americans were asked if the name was offensive. Over 90% said no.

Nice!

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Posted by DoomGuy

@razzatazz: and only about 9% of the interviewed Native Americans think it's a slur. The Native Americans who are against the name are pretty small in numbers. I don't think it's such a big deal to where they need to change a name that has stuck with a team for a looooooooong time..

Posted by KingAres109

@doomguy: Well,I do agree with you.But even if a small number of them find it to be a slur,then it must be one.I read before where some people think hon*y or crac*er is a slur.Its the same as ni**a..Some blacks think its not,and some do.

So maybe they should just change it.I don't care,but it would stop all the whinning.Its like saying whiteskins or blackskins..Would that bother you!??

Posted by RazzaTazz

@doomguy: I suppose the point of what I wrote is lost upon you. It is not that it is not considered as a slur by those receiving it, but that it was once intended as a slur by those speaking it. The former might exonerate the offense, but the latter absolutely does not.

Edited by DoomGuy

@razzatazz: Ah, I get what your saying. I reckon it kind just went over my head.

Posted by DoomGuy

@kingares109: I get what you're saying.. I mean.. It's not that big of a deal to me, I just think they should keep it. If they change it, so be it, I'm a Packers fan anyways, lol.

Edited by RazzaTazz

@doomguy: It is complicated too by the fact that the long time owner was an avowed racist.

Posted by DoomGuy

@razzatazz: Well dang. I really didn't know that. I have read though that the name was changed from Boston Braves to the Redskins because of the then time coach claiming to be Native American. But also read that there were suspicions to how true that claim was.

Posted by Joygirl

As a native myself I'd get a little peeved if someone called me a redskin (and by a little peeved I mean punch them). It's pretty much the exact equivalent of calling someone a darky or slope.

Posted by cattlebattle

@joygirl said:

As a native myself I'd get a little peeved if someone called me a redskin (and by a little peeved I mean punch them). It's pretty much the exact equivalent of calling someone a darky or slope.

Why in the world would you be offended?? First of all if anything, you are descended from those people, and second, its more along the line of calling someone a "blackskin or whiteskin".

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

I think the world it's self shouldn't be thought of as offensive, it should be how the word is used. Otherwise:

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Edited by JetiiMitra

@joygirl said:

As a native myself I'd get a little peeved if someone called me a redskin (and by a little peeved I mean punch them). It's pretty much the exact equivalent of calling someone a darky or slope.

Why in the world would you be offended?? First of all if anything, you are descended from those people, and second, its more along the line of calling someone a "blackskin or whiteskin".

What does descent have to do with anything? It's a respect thing. Neither of those terms have been used derogatorily to the extent that "redskin" has.

Edited by cbishop

@razzatazz: @kingares109: @doomguy: The same folks who took offense to "Redskins" as a team name for Washington also took offense to "Braves" as a team name for Atlanta, and "brave" is what they called one of their warriors- in no way offensive. They even went so far as to protest the giant Brave statue placed in The Diamond stadium of the then-farm team Richmond Braves, in Virginia, causing the statue to be removed. So as someone who is part Cherokee, it seems less that the group found the term to be a slur, and more that they prefer to be isolationist about their people.

Posted by cattlebattle

@mitran said:

What does descent have to do with anything? It's a respect thing. Neither of those terms have been used derogatorily to the extent that "redskin" has.

I am saying that person is just as much of a Native American as I am. The person is a descendant of a group of a certain people just like everyone in the world is.

A word being derogatory is also a based on its connotations. Redskin is referring to the color of someones skin, Its like if you called a person whitey. By today's standards, its not that offensive, in fact, as someone mentioned already, they polled people of the aforementioned descent and a dominant 90% claimed it wasn't offensive.

Posted by KingAres109

@doomguy: I'm a Lions fans so I don't care about the their name.But people are going to make a big deal about it.And to stop it is to change the name.

Edited by JetiiMitra

@mitran said:

What does descent have to do with anything? It's a respect thing. Neither of those terms have been used derogatorily to the extent that "redskin" has.

I am saying that person is just as much of a Native American as I am. The person is a descendant of a group of a certain people just like everyone in the world is.

A word being derogatory is also a based on its connotations. Redskin is referring to the color of someones skin, Its like if you called a person whitey. By today's standards, its not that offensive, in fact, as someone mentioned already, they polled people of the aforementioned descent and a dominant 90% claimed it wasn't offensive.

I'm not sure what you're saying here. Sure, if we trace back far enough everyone has a common ancestor, but that's pretty far back. Changes have occurred in different groups of peoples since, or racism and the like wouldn't even be a problem. It's capitalizing on and deriding those differences that's the problem.

You say that how derogatory a word is is determined by connotations, but then you rely on the denotation of the word "redskin." It has (for some) the connotation of an insult, since a physical difference such as skin color is the easiest way to insult someone. It's a way of exclusion by calling out that difference. 90% of Native Americans were not offended by the use of the word, but that doesn't mean the wishes of the other 10% shouldn't be respected - no one has license to call someone something they don't want to be called. That's just a courtesy.

Edited by RazzaTazz

@cbishop: I didn't necessarily mean to take a particular side in this discussion, only that I had found a golden age comic which would indicate that at one point that the term was very much meant as an insult. That it is not so much intended as such today may be the case, but there is a sense of historical revisionism when it comes to justifying the name.

Edited by kuonphobos

It is interesting to hear the discussion surround the terminology and whether the terms and their underlying concepts are offensive or not. I think the overall issue in this debate is whether or not it remains offensive in the 21st century to utilize any ethnic group as a team mascot no matter what terminology is used. The act of reducing a culture and ethnicity into a caricature is in itself offensive. Just take a moment and try it with any other culture/ethnicity and it will hopefully become clear.

Posted by RazzaTazz

@kuonphobos: I think that the term Redskin actually does apply to a group of warriors though, not just to a group of people (though it evidently has a double meaning). In that sense it does have about as much offensive value as a lot of sport teams names (for instance the Crusaders). In a broader sense though, it can be taken out of context easily, because so much of sport relies on myth anyway.

Posted by DoomGuy

@doomguy: I'm a Lions fans so I don't care about the their name.But people are going to make a big deal about it.And to stop it is to change the name.

That wouldn't stop it. Because then the hundreds of thousands of Redskins fans would raise hell. Probably to the point of not buying tickets or merchandise of the team.

It would cause a bigger problem if they changed the name to satisfy a few.

Posted by KingAres109

@doomguy: I do agree..But a person likes a team more than its name.Of course I can see people getting upset if the name changes.But if you're a loyal fan then you go roll with it..

Edited by cbishop
@razzatazz said:

@cbishop: I didn't necessarily mean to take a particular side in this discussion, only that I had found a golden age comic which would indicate that at one point that the term was very much meant as an insult. That it is not so much intended as such today may be the case, but there is a sense of historical revisionism when it comes to justifying the name.

I wasn't really taking a side either. I just think the detractors to the name have more to do with being isolationists than with being offended. In the case of the Richmond Braves outcry, I actually don't think that was the same group, as I had said- I think that was just political grandstanding by attention-seekers in the city, who have nothing to do with Native Americans.

@kuonphobos said:

It is interesting to hear the discussion surround the terminology and whether the terms and their underlying concepts are offensive or not. I think the overall issue in this debate is whether or not it remains offensive in the 21st century to utilize any ethnic group as a team mascot no matter what terminology is used. The act of reducing a culture and ethnicity into a caricature is in itself offensive. Just take a moment and try it with any other culture/ethnicity and it will hopefully become clear.

"Cowboys? 49ers? Vikings? Texans? Buccaneers? Patriots? Raiders?" All drawn from primarily white culture (although a couple of those terms have since expanded to be more inclusive of varied cultures), and nobody is offended about that.

How come nobody seems to care about "Chiefs?"

***

I just think protesting a team name is stupid.

Posted by Yokergeist

I would be glad to have a team named after my race.

Posted by TifaLockhart

A friend of mine who is of African descent raised what I thought was a good point: just because I can say the word "chink" doesn't mean others won't be offended. I should respect their wishes, so long as they are reasonable.

Posted by kuonphobos

@cbishop said:
@kuonphobos said:

It is interesting to hear the discussion surround the terminology and whether the terms and their underlying concepts are offensive or not. I think the overall issue in this debate is whether or not it remains offensive in the 21st century to utilize any ethnic group as a team mascot no matter what terminology is used. The act of reducing a culture and ethnicity into a caricature is in itself offensive. Just take a moment and try it with any other culture/ethnicity and it will hopefully become clear.

"Cowboys? 49ers? Vikings? Texans? Buccaneers? Patriots? Raiders?" All drawn from primarily white culture (although a couple of those terms have since expanded to be more inclusive of varied cultures), and nobody is offended about that.

How come nobody seems to care about "Chiefs?"

***

I just think protesting a team name is stupid.

With the exception of Vikings and perhaps Texans all of the above mentioned mascots are actually descriptions of vocations not ethnicities or "cultures" as I was using the term. It is simple enough just to ask whether a cowboy, a 49er, a buccaneer, a patriot or a raider can decide to quit being any of those things? Now ask whether a Native American can quit being such?

Probably not too many Vikings running around anymore and obviously a Texas based team calling itself Texan is a no brainer.

Regarding the Kansas City Chiefs, they did change their mascot which was a depiction of a Native American in full headdress riding a Pinto to that of a wolf. So they are not pristine in this debate.

HERE

But since your core thought is that protesting a name is stupid then I wouldn't expect any agreement on this issue.

Posted by cbishop

@kuonphobos: Nah, based on the way you're defining it, I'd agree completely. I was thinking of those other names as culture, because they are certainly part of a culture. I guess it's just that protesting a sports team name seems silly to me. I could understand if it was the government changing the name of the Indian Affairs Bureau to the Redskins Affairs Bureau- then yeah, that might be something to protest. For a sports team? Dang, just don't support that team.