- - Thursday, July 9, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Why a few Indians, obviously envious of other ethnic minorities who get their names in the paper so often, are so dead to the celebration of courage and valor escapes us, but dead they are. The cheers roll down from the stands at FedEx Field, the martial strains of “Hail to the Redskins” float on the autumn air, and dead souls do not hear. The Washington Redskins unite a contentious city, a city riven with partisan anger and something close to hate, and dead ears cannot hear, dead eyes cannot see.

A judge, perhaps a Cowboys fan, canceled the registration of the trademark of the name this week, getting the name of Gerald Bruce Lee in the papers, too. (Judge Lee has to do something about his family name lest he incur the wrath of the mob in its mindless frenzy.) Mr. Lee — a storied name, that — upheld the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the name “Redskins” is racist and offensive, though on a typical Sunday afternoon in November in Washington no one would think so. Another appeal is expected, and Judge Lee’s order actually doesn’t change much. The club can keep the name for now.

Bruce Allen, the general manager of the Redskins, vows that the club will struggle on, as if trailing by 2 points with only two minutes left on the clock. “We look forward to winning on appeal after a fair and impartial review of the case,” he says. “We are convinced that we will win because the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise, which has proudly used the name ‘Redskins‘ for more than 80 years.”

The Indians who say they are offended by the name hope to hit owner Dan Snyder where it would hurt most, in his wallet. The franchise is worth an estimated $1.7 billion, the third-richest in the NFL, and sells about $145 million in Redskins-branded apparel and trinkets annually. Without trademark protection, competitors could knock off the business in burgundy and gold, restraining trade in the items.

The plaintiffs in the case — who call themselves “Native Americans,” like most of the 325 million of us who live here — want to speak for their fellow tribes, but it’s more squeak than speech. A poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center a decade ago found that 90 percent of Indians are not offended by “Redskins.” Only last year, 71 percent of the general public, who understand pride and swagger, told pollsters the club should not change the cherished name.

Redskins” connotes courage comparable to the courage in the team’s original name, the Braves, when the franchise moved from Boston in 1937. Winning five league championships, including three Super Bowls, the Redskins are lodged as deeply in the affections of city residents as the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. Would anyone suggest these memorials to slave owners be removed from the capital landscape?

Well, in an age when the mob demands political correctness above all, it’s possible. The little people are forever brainstorming ways to erase the icons of America’s heritage, whether it’s a stone carving of the Ten Commandments on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds, miniature battle flags decorating the graves of soldiers sleeping in hundreds of graveyards across the South, or pride in the name of the town team.

Football is about large men imposing their will on other large men. Football fandom is about vicariously getting as close to the battle as possible without getting a broken head. The Redskins have been providing that thrill for Washingtonians for generations. That sounds worthy of pride and respect to us. Hail to the Redskins.


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