- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2013

The online magazine Slate has decided to do away with the word “Redskins” in all further references to Washington, D.C.’s NFL team.

Going forth, the team will be known by the media outlet as simply — that team from Washington, apparently. Slate writer David Plotz explains the new policy, in a Thursday post: “This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins. For decades, American Indian activists and others have been asking, urging and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and an insult to Indians.”

But Redskins owner Dan Snyder steadfastly refuses, Mr. Plotz says.

“The choice of the team’s name belongs to one person, Washington owner Daniel Snyder. He has brushed off the controversy with arm waves at ‘tradition,’ ‘competitiveness,’ and ‘honor.’ He recently told USA Today, ‘We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.’ “

At the same time as announcing the new Slate policy, Mr. Plotz also recognized that Mr. Snyder was hardly a bigot, and neither were those who advocated for the Redskins’ name to stay put.

“[The name Redskins] is not an open-and-shut outrage like the still-used nickname, Savages. The word redskin has a relatively innocent history. … European settlers in the 18th century seem to have adopted the term from Native Americans, who used ‘red skin’ to describe themselves,” he wrote. “But as time passes, the world changes and all of a sudden a well-intentioned symbol is an embarrassment.”

The test is this: Would a new team today choose the name Redskins?

“Of course it wouldn’t,” he said. “So while the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated — like an old aunt who still talks about ‘colored people’ or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay.”

Slate, a site owned by The Washington Post Co., joins a growing list of other organizations that refuses to reference Redskins: Washington City Paper, and several writers from the Buffalo News and the Philadelphia Daily News, Mr. Plotz said.

Various politicians, from both Capitol Hill and representing the city of Washington, D.C., also decry the continued use of the name, he said.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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