A linguist on why "Redskins" was always a slur

"The thing to bear in mind about the Redskins trademark case is that it was basically about the ‘60s," writes Geoffrey Nunberg, "--and the ‘60s of Mad Men, not Woodstock."

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  1. What a wonderfully pure example of this classic racism apology: nominating only the members of the group who agree with you as representatives of the whole.

  2. Growing up as a kid in the DC suburbs, we actually sang "Hail to the Redskins" in music class in elementary school. (Remember when kids had music class?) And yes, I clearly remember that line: "Scalp ‘um, swamp ‘um, we will take’um big score… (Something something) heap more!"

    Anybody who pretends this is about honoring the heritage of Native Americans is doing nothing but denying very real, very obvious racism. There was a time when I thought it was much ado about nothing, but recalling those lyrics is all the indictment I need.

    EDIT: I still think renaming the Bullets was a stupid move. Maybe they can kill two birds, by giving that name to the NFL team?

  3. As I said recently in a completely different context: If someone tells you a word you are using is offensive, and you are inclined to defend your choice of word, you have to stop and be suspicious of your motives.

  4. jmr32 says:

    From the article:

    Indians themselves sometimes use the word in team names as a reclaimed epithet, but that dispensation doesn’t extend to whites, no more than the appearance of the N-word in hip hop lyrics gives whites permission to use it

    Maybe in the future you should try reading something before complaining that it isn't properly researched.

  5. There's also a national philanthropic organization (founded in 1944) called "The United Negro College Fund." That doesn't mean I should keep calling brown-skinned people "negroes" if a sizable portion of them take offense, nor that we should defend a choice to name a mostly-white baseball team "The Washington Negroes."

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