No law against preposterousness

nicknamesThere’s something more than a little ridiculous about the flap over the name of the professional football franchise in Washington, D.C. And by that I don’t mean that many people of all different ethnic heritages find the Redskins moniker to be embarrassing and insulting. I mean the ridiculousness of the arguments put forward in defense of its continued use. The ridiculousness of the idea that this is something worth defending.   

It’s analogous to one of the arguments we’ve heard during the current debate over Native American school sports nicknames and logos here in Wisconsin. Some opponents of the existing state law, which allows the DPI to order districts to stop using them, have noted that they or some members of their family have some smidgen of Native American heritage and don’t find such nicknames offensive, so hey, what’s the big deal? Supporters of the status quo in D.C. like to point out how attached the fans are to the nickname, and some polling that claims to show Native Americans don’t mind. So it’s all good, right? (The Major League Baseball club in Cleveland is now polling fans on what they think of that team’s name and mascot, which ought to be interesting, since Chief Wahoo has got to be the most blatantly, embarrassingly offensive mascot currently in use at any level of organized sports, bar none. )

My point in all this is that, yes, Native American (or “racially based” if you prefer) nicknames and logos are offensive, embarrassing and preposterous, but combine the hyperventilating importance attached to organized sports with the epidemic of cultural ridiculousness here in the land of Honey Boo Boo and the Kardashians and it’s easy too see how tough it will be for this issue grow much beyond its current base of outrage. Media elites can criticize continued use of the name of the D.C. NFL franchise until they’re blue in the face, but that’s just not going to cut it with the fans in the stands or around the country. Embarrassing? Come on. This is America. We don’t do embarrassment.

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