Aaron Goldstein penned a thoughtful column today about the faux controversy over the Washington Redskins name. He rightly criticizes outlets like Slate, the New Republic, and Mother Jones for majoring in the minors and making a huge issue out of a relatively small matter. He points out that these outlets aren’t quite famed for their sports coverage.
However, I disagree with the sentiment that conservatives need to take up this argument.
In the same way it’s trivial for left-wing outlets to try to make a big deal out of the Redskins name, it’s also trivial for conservatives to fight for it. This represents little more than an opportunity to stick our foot in our collective mouth.
I question Goldstein’s contention that the name isn’t offensive. Let’s not pretend that "redskin" isn’t, at the very least, a dated term. True, the origin of the Redskins team name is relatively innocent. But some Native Americans have been protesting it usage since at least 1992. That’s protest from Native Americans, not liberals up on their high horse (though there is obviously some of that, too). From a strictly pragmatic standpoint, can’t conservatives throw them a symbolic bone by ceasing to argue for the continued use of a term they find offensive?
I recognize Daniel Synder’s right to call his team whatever he darn well pleases, but for conservatives to alienate potential voters in defense of that right is foolish. It’s our inability to avoid media-driven storms like this that allows the left to continually paint us as racists.