In 1995, Abe Pollin, then-owner of the Washington Bullets, announced that he had become increasingly uncomfortable with the team's name, particularly since Washington, D.C., like many large cities, was beset by gun violence. A contest was held to find a new name, and by 1997 the Bullets had become the Wizards. While some people would like to have kept the old name, the whole process was relatively painless.
Today, another of Washington's sports teams is facing increasing controversy over its name. The main difference is that Dan Snyder, the owner of the Redskins (and someone widely reviled in Washington for a whole host of reasons), is adamant that as long as he owns the team, it will never, ever, ever change its name.
As former Prospect editor Michael Tomasky explained not long ago, the man who gave the Redskins their name, former owner, George Preston Marshall, "was one of the most despicable racists in the American sporting arena of the entire 20th century," an ardent segregationist who made sure his team was the last in the NFL to allow a black player on its squad, and then only under pressure from the federal government to do so. Marshall's legacy lives on in the team's patently offensive name, and now a number of publications are staging their own protest by banishing "Redskins" from their pages. Washington City Paper now refers to the team as the "Pigskins." Slate now refuses to use the name as well, as will Mother Jones and The New Republic. Most of those aren't publications that do a great deal of sports coverage; there would be a real impact if The Washington Postjoined them. Maybe that's something Jeff Bezos could consider.
No one can seriously argue that "Redskins" isn't offensive. The answer Snyder and the rest of the name's defenders give when this is pointed out is usually along the lines of "We don't give a damn." But as human beings, we all have an obligation to treat one another with respect and sensitivity. And the more people your actions affect, the greater that obligation is. The Redskins' name is an ongoing stain on the city and on the sport. If only Dan Snyder could find some of Abe Pollin's humanity and do the right thing.
SO THEY SAY
"It’s kind of like how I view the press corps–one big cuddly collection of humanity. I think of you all fondly."
—Anthony Weiner, at an event where he also made fun of a British reporter's accent
DAILY MEME: GRAND OLD PARTY?
- The slow attrition of every single demographic from the Republican Party doesn't inspire much hope for their national electoral chances. But, at least they'll always have old ... oh wait, nope. Even seniors are having second thoughts.
- Calling the party Grand and Old, is (maybe) no longer factually accurate. A new survey from the National Memo shows that 55 percent of seniors say the Republican party is too extreme.
- However, this is one survey, so we need to take it with a handful of salt. As Kevin Drum writes, "I'm not sure how seriously to take this. Comparing attitudes on Election Day in 2010 to attitudes today, 15 months before an election, strikes me as a stretch. And the fact that you think the GOP is too extreme on an issue or three doesn't mean you're going to vote against them."
- (Especially if Democratic candidates make a habit of calling older Republicans mean names.)
- And, regardless of what the data may show about Republicans as a whole, it's important to remember that only the most devout liberals and conservatives are likely to vote in the midterms next year. We likely won't see the effects of any shift until the 2016 general election.
- However, if the data proves destiny, "this is a very big deal, folks," as Ed Kilgore notes, "not just in the long term but in the immediate future. It’s the grip the GOP had on white seniors that made the 2010 GOP landslide possible, and which had convinced most attentive observers that Republicans possessed a big advantage going into 2014 no matter what was going on across the issue landscape, given the disproportionate turnout of seniors in midterms.
- Is the change caused by the hordes of baby boomers aging into the demographic?
- Or maybe because seniors are all becoming "Broken Hip-sters"?
- Or maybe its that some Republicans are eyeing dead people for government positions—like Rand Paul, who'd like to have a deceased person run the Federal Reserve—reminding their most beloved constiuency of their mortality.
- Or maybe it's because, as Ted Cruz sees it, the media has painted his party as stupid, evil, and crazy.
- Or, you know, it might just be that there are fewer and fewer people who like the policies the Republican party is trying to enact.
WHAT WE'RE WRITING
- The GOP has begun to draw lines in the sand for where they stand on issues of foreign policy, writes Matt Duss. So, which side wins?
- Clean voter rolls are necessary to maintain elections. But, Abby Rapoport writes, seeking out noncitizens is something else entirely.
WHAT WE'RE READING
- Due to a terror threat, U.S. personnel are leaving a consulate in Pakistan.
- Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer are finding more forgiving crowds in the black communities of New York.
- Gun advocates are planning protests at Starbucks franchises to continue to allow gun owners to openly carry firearms.
- Here's a test to see whether Republicans disapprove of everything Obama does
- Alec Baldwin might be getting an MSNBC program.
- Obama's endorsement of scaling back government support for mortgage losses could serve as a boon to the initiative.
POLL OF THE DAY
Just over seven in ten Americans believe it is essential for immigrants to learn English, according to a new poll results released by Gallup. Only one in five believe that U.S. citizens need to learn another language. Both of these responses are virtually unchanged from when Gallup first polled on this question, in 2001.