There’s a new campaign to force the Washington Redskins football team to change its name. American Indian groups are running radio ads calling the name racist and winning typically adoring media coverage from the likes of NBC News, the Huffington Post, and affirmative action websites such as The Root. A few prissy media groups are refusing to refer to the team as the “Redskins.” Last Friday, even the President of the United States took a position. In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Obama said he would “think about changing” a team name that offended “a sizable group of people.”
We’ve seen this movie before. Indians have been whooping about the name since 1972, but the team won’t budge. In 2009, the Supreme Court dismissed a 17-year-long lawsuit to change the name, ruling that the Indian plaintiffs had waited too long to file (the name goes back to 1933 and became a registered trademark in 1967).
Once again, the owner has sworn that the name will “never” change, and there’s an army of fans ignoring the whiners and buying up tickets and merchandise to celebrate. Still, I predict the Redskins are doomed. Regardless of the owners and the fans, regardless of the disruption, expense, and trouble of a name change, despite the fact that most people don’t care, the team will get a new name. Those defending the name have no better arguments than tradition and inertia. Those pushing for the change can paint their opponents as racist bigots with no rights to their opinions. It’s easy to see which side will line up the big battalions.
There’s a long history of this. The Marquette University Warriors are now the “Golden Eagles.” The William & Mary Indians became the William & Mary Tribe, and then the William & Mary “Griffins” when Tribe became too much for the commissars who rule us. The Miami University Redskins became the “Redhawks,” and the St. John’s Redmen are now the Red Storm. The Florida State Seminoles have a special exemption from the NCAA, probably for financial reasons, though we will see how long that lasts. And we can’t “exclude” women, so the Syracuse Orangemen became the Syracuse Orange.
Wealthy benefactor Ralph Engelstad donated $100 million to the University of North Dakota to build a brand new football stadium that opened in 2001. A specific condition of the gift was that the Fighting Sioux mascot would never be changed. Engelstad died 2002, and eight years later the Fighting Sioux were gone. The University of North Dakota now has no mascot.
Let this be a lesson to anyone hoping to defy political correctness: Donate to alternative institutions, rather than trust an affirmative-action degree mill.
Conceivably, any mascot could give offense, and we may be reduced to rooting purely for colors. That wouldn’t diminish fan fanaticism. The Byzantine Empire was almost brought down because of riots between the Greens and the Blues, who supported rival chariot-racing teams.
American Indian mascots reflect the admiration of white Americans for the peoples they conquered. They are a tribute, not a put down. The Army calls its attack helicopter the Apache because it respects the martial prowess of Indians, not because it wants to make fun of them.
If mascots are an insult, why did so many Southern schools have to get rid of “the Rebels”? “Colonel Reb” at Ole Miss, the battle flag, and allusions to Confederate soldiers were offensive because they glorified the South, but using “Indians” or one of its permutations as a mascot insults “Native Americans”? The only consistency here is that whites must always be at fault.
But this provides an opening. Instead of a reactionary defense of the Redskins, perhaps white advocates can work for a new mascot that will infuriate the guardians of political correctness. We need a mascot that has nothing to do with minorities, but at the same time represents an ideal of “whiteness.” How about the Colombian Norsemen? The opposing teams could pray, “From the fury of the Norsemen, oh Lord, deliver us.” We could name the team after a barbarian tribe—perhaps the “District Dacians?” Fans could show up to the stadium wearing wolf skins.
Or maybe we could just call the team the “Washington Whiteskins.” An American Indian tribe once tried to satirize Indian mascot names by calling their team the “Fighting Whities.” Of course, it backfired massively. White Americans thought the name was great and started buying Fighting Whitey T shirts. Rush Limbaugh promoted the team on his program. The result was a great deal of gnashing of teeth about whites’ refusal to be offended.
Far too many white men have essentially outsourced their collective identity—even their masculinity—to sports teams. Our rulers don’t like to see white fans rallying around American Indian names, but they don’t like us rallying around a symbol of white identity either, even if it’s ironic.
But they would be hard pressed to explain why. If the Washington Redskins demeans Indians, the Washington Whiteskins could be promoted as a gesture of white racial renunciation, even moral sacrifice. So let’s get in front of the zeitgeist for the change. Down with the Redskins; up with the Whiteskins! You can imagine the new fight song: “Hail to the Whiteskins! Hail Victory!”