Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where White Ownership of "Redskins" Began

Indian nicknames have, in the past decade, become issues. Macalester College students, bless their hearts, protested Ted Turner coming to their campus because he espoused racial equality, but allowed the Brave Cartoon mascot to exist.

The stupids in the media in the Twin Cities reacted with confusion at the time: "Here's a billionaire so liberal that he'll fuck Jane Fonda and raise money for the Democrats, but simply because he won't rid his baseball franchise of racist iconography, a bunch of rich white liberal kids don't want him to speak at their graduation."

Seeing as I got Takaki, I can understand their disappointment.

According to some people, the term Redskin was an honorific as early as 1930, and certainly not laced with ethnic cleansing. Those ideas came later, they argue. Redskin, when it was first applied, was not insulting. "We honor their legacy," some people say. We honor elements of The Native American tradition, while we sadly lament that they couldn't be assimiliated. You sometimes hear that argument today, even. "We honor the legacy of the Native Americans, we apologize for taking their land, and occasional success story/casino shows we are righting wrongs."

It is an old, old, argument.

In fact, it was made, back in 1890, by an obscure editorialist working out of what was then the Far Western border of the United States. See if he doesn't capture, way back when, the duality of racism/respect for Native Americans way back when. With the death of Sitting Bull, he argues that:

With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are. History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in later ages of the glory of these grand Kings of forest and plain that Cooper loved to heroism.

We cannot honestly regret their extermination, but we at least do justice to the manly characteristics possessed, according to their lights and education, by the early Redskins of America.

That's What Redskin means. According to L. Frank Baum. Yes, that L Frank Baum. Manly, tough, but slowly, surely, lesser than Whites.

It meant that in 1890, it meant that in 1930, certainly. Proud Warriors who would fight, fight, fight, thus. their extermination is necessary.

End of Story, as to what Redskin meant, and means.


Muumuuman said...

Tom, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore...

Andrew Wice said...

So let the Washington football team drop all the racist iconography (sorry, headresses too but the Hogettes can stay) and emphasize that "Redskins" is merely in reference to their sublime burgundy colour. Keep the Lombardi-designed circle-R design.

Boom, racism solved at last. Well no, but am I wrong to keep making this same point?

Big Blue Monkey said...

Yes, you are wrong.

The name isn't going to change meaning just because you take away the most obvious signifiers.

Change the name altogether. That's the solution.

Muumuuman said...

The Washington Ron Burgundy's?

Andrew Wice said...

No, I am not wrong. Dick.

The team isn't going to just scrap 75 years of the the "Redskins." That should be very clear by now.

The Injun iconography, while not as cartoonily racist as Chief Krazy Balls (e.g.), is inexcusable. Coupling the icons with the name "Redskins" is explicitly offensive. That should be very clear by now.

While these two clarities have created in intractable gridlock, the option of compromise remains. The compromise would have to be keeping the name (for the traditionalists) while gutting the associated offensive accoutrements (in the interest of moral legitimacy).

Boom, racism is defeated while we are spared having to cheer for the Washington Constitutionals or some crap like that.

Big Blue Monkey said...

Nope. Still wrong. Just as "nigger" is still offensive, even without visuals to go along with it, Redskins is a racist descriptor.

The name's heritage of racism goes back much further than the franchises' paltry 75 years.

And that legacy of the franchise is just going to be one that seemed more and more backward. I guarantee you at some point in the future, people are going to say, "Can you believe they were still called the Redskins as late as 2010? That's insane!"

"That's nothing! Did you know that some bloviating blogger thought the problem with the name wasn't actually a problem? That if they just got rid of the Native American iconography, everything would be OK? That's motherfucking crazy."

Andrew Wice said...

Ok Big BM, stand outside Redskins Park beating on a genuine buffalo-leather tomtom. I'm sure The Schnyder will listen to you, whiteman.

I know many of us graduated from a small liberal arts school. Does anyone have an ironclad definition of racism? Is it racist to note someone's race? Is it racist to pass legislation which is based on race? Is it racist to make race-based jokes?

Big Blue Monkey said...

Not a single one of those questions is germane to the question raised in this post, which is, "Is a White-Owned Organization, using a racist name and image, racist?"

The answer, obviously, is yes.

Your questions are intersting, surely. But, again, have nothing to do with the question of whether an organization called The Washington Redskins are trafficking in racist imagery/terms.

This is, as they say, a no-brainer. The answers to your questions are not as easy. Muddying the waters of a simple question with complex questions is bullshit.

Miwacar said...

Andy-Woo, I think it is racist for you to argue anything beyond "Where's my money" and/or "You call this a shmear?"

BBM was assuredly drunk when he wrote his responses and more than likely had just come home from the bar where had a hug, then a punch, then another hug with his best friend...Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Now, if you don't mind I will sit down and dig into this overflowing plate of lutefisk and then get my neighbor to turn down his music by explaining to him in passing that I have very sensitive hearing. Ya know.

Barnyard said...

Washington Constitutionals has a nice ring.

Muumuuman said...

Hey come on, the Ron Burgundy's - then they can keep the R and the red uniforms. Will Ferrel would be pleased, too.

My high school mascot was the indians. The school removed the racist iconography in the 80's (the maskot was a white high school kid in an indian head dress), but eventually got thier shit together in the 90's and changed to the wolf pack. My wife? Her high school was AND IS the Salmon Savages. Yup, they got rid of the savage mascot in 1999, so it's totally unoffensive now. I think thier new mascot may be a bear with a savage hunger for salmon. The bear probably wears a head dress.

Barnyard said...

The Salmon Savages overhaul is incomplete until they no longer sport an address of 401 S. Warpath.

Muumuuman said...

Well in barbyard, well in.