Moral Low Ground


San Francisco Chronicle to Stop Using ‘Redskins’

Redskins name controversyThe San Francisco Chronicle has announced that it will stop using the word ‘Redskins’ in its coverage of Washington’s NFL team.

Chronicle managing editor Audrey Cooper announced in a brief Wednesday column that the paper’s style committee will stop using the word, which violates its “longstanding policy against using racial slurs.”

“And make no mistake,” wrote Cooper, “‘redskin’ is a patently racist term.”

As Cooper points out, the Chronicle isn’t the first paper to stop printing ‘Redskins.’ The Oregonian hasn’t used the term in 20 years. The Kansas City Star stopped using it last year. Countless blogs and websites have followed suit. And legendary NBC sportscaster Bob Costas has eschewed the word for years.

“Think for a moment about the term ‘Redskins’ and how it truly differs from all the others,” Costas said during a recent Sunday Night Football halftime program, referring to other professional sports teams named after Native Americans such as the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs. “Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African Americans, Hispanics, Asians or members of any other ethnic group. When considered that way, ‘Redskins’ can’t possibly honor a heritage or a noble character trait, nor could it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present-day intent.”

“We have a responsibility to set the tone for civil discourse,” the Chronicle’s Cooper wrote in defense of the paper’s decision. “That doesn’t mean we set the rules, but it does mean we can lead by example.”

NBC Washington reported Thursday that the Washington, DC city council will take up a resolution next week urging the team to change its name. The council passed a similar resolution in 2001.

On Wednesday, representatives from the Oneida Indian Nation called for sanctions against team owner Dan Snyder “should the Washington team continue to promote a dictionary-defined slur that is clearly detrimental to the welfare of the NFL’s image.”

While many conservative politicians and pundits have scoffed at the notion of a name change, blaming “liberals” for ginning up a contrived controversy and calling it an example of political correctness gone off the rails, some prominent conservatives have stepped up to endorse ditching the derogatory name.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, said he finds the name “needlessly offensive.”

“It is very, very, very offensive,” said Cole. “This isn’t like Warriors or Chiefs. It’s not a term of respect, and it’s needlessly offensive to a large part of our population.”

Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer concurred, citing “simple decency” as the reason he won’t use the term anymore.

“I wouldn’t want to use a word that defines a people– living or dead, offended or not– in a most demeaning way,” wrote Krauthammer in the Post. “It’s a question not of who or how many had their feelings hurt, but of whether you want to associate yourself with a word that, for whatever historical reason having nothing to do with you, carries inherently derogatory connotations.”

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