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50 senators to NFL: Change Redskins' racist name

By Alan Fram

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:53 p.m. HST, May 22, 2014


WASHINGTON » Half the U.S. Senate urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday to change the Washington Redskins' name, saying it is a racist slur and the time is ripe to replace it.

In one letter, 49 senators cited the NBA's quick action recently to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after he was heard on an audio recording making offensive comments about blacks. They said Goodell should formally push to rename the Redskins.

"We urge you and the National Football League to send the same clear message as the NBA did: that racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports," read the letter, which did not use the word "Redskins."

Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, wrote his own letter saying he doesn't believe that retaining the Redskin name "is appropriate in this day and age." He described himself as "one of your great fans for both the game and you personally."

The letters come at a time of growing pressure to change the team name, with statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the name, citing tradition. The franchise has been known as the Redskins since 1933, when it played in Boston.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took to the Senate floor to say Snyder should "do what is morally right" and change the name. Thursday's letters were aimed directly at Goodell.

In a written response, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said "diversity and inclusion" have long been a focus of the NFL.

"The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image," McCarthy said. "The name is not used by the team or the NFL in any other context, though we respect those that view it differently."

Reid and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., led the letter-writing effort. All senators on the letter are Democrats. Cantwell spokesman Jared Leopold said Republicans were not asked to participate.

Cantwell later said on the Senate floor that she was inviting Republicans to sign the letter or write their own.

"I'm convinced that if each member of this body speaks on this issue and is forceful in their resolve, that we can help initiate change," she said.

Democrats not signing the letter were Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of nearby Virginia, where the team's headquarters are; Mark Pryor of Arkansas, in a tight re-election race this year; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, two of their party's more moderate lawmakers.

The senators noted that tribal organizations representing more than 2 million Native Americans across the U.S. have said they want the Redskins name dropped.

Despite federal laws protecting their identity, "Every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C., football team mocks their culture," they wrote.

"The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur," the letter said.






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kahuku01 wrote:
This is a private and not a government issue. I guess that these elected officials have more time on their hands debating whether to ban the Redskins logo, but rather than handling what they are getting paid to do, take care of business that require immediate attention for the citizens of America
on May 22,2014 | 07:07PM
WalkoffBalk wrote:
How about the chop shop?
on May 22,2014 | 09:44PM
kailua000 wrote:
the Redskins have never made a cartoonish indian, they've never disrespected the culture. Like the UH Warrior its a sign of strength. Most people think only of indians being in the mid west and southwest, but very strong indian culture was in new england where the Skins were founded and in the Maryland/Washington DC/Virginia area and seems they have never been the ones to object. Democrats should be fixing the country as Kahuku01 said. if the 40,000 season ticket holder are insulted, money makes things happen. get our government out of private businesses.
on May 23,2014 | 02:08AM
peanutgallery wrote:
Note to 50 senators: "get over yourselves, you're certainly not that important."
on May 23,2014 | 04:10AM
false wrote:
Ditto
on May 23,2014 | 03:25PM
boolakanaka wrote:
Let me give you five factual reasons why the term is at once terribly offensive and racist: (YouTube) 1. In 1932, Walter O. Gutlohn’s animated cartoon short of Tom and Jerry titled Redskin Blues tells the story of the main characters being attacked by stereotypical 'savage' Indians, only to be rescued by the US Army. As NPR reported on the context of the team name in relation to this cartoon, “Just a year after that stereotype-laden Tom and Jerry cartoon was released, Boston Braves owner George Preston Marshall decided in 1933 to change the franchise's name from the Braves (another name with a racial history) to the Redskins.” 2.2. This same owner, Marshall was well known for requiring the coach William Henry 'Lone Star' Dietz and players “to wear Indian feathers and put on war paint before home games” and Cliff Battles, a non-Native member of the team, said in an interview in Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins, by Thomas G. Smith, in the 30’s, players would do so and “do a little Indian dance to entertain the paying customers. None of us liked that very much…it was embarrassing.”
on May 23,2014 | 06:11AM
boolakanaka wrote:
3.. According to the report, in 1963 – four years before the Washington franchise first filed for trademark protection – the National Indian Youth Council was formed and began working on campuses, most notably the University of Oklahoma, to eliminate its mascot, 'Little Red,' and always made the case about the worst 'Indian' reference, the one in the nation’s capital, the Red*kins. In 1968, – just one year after Pro-Football gained its first license for the “Red*kins” mark – the Native American community commenced a broad-scale effort to eradicate the use of all 'Native' names and symbols. In 1972, representatives of NCAI, the American Indian Press Association, the American Indian Movement, and others reached out directly to the team owner to request that the franchise change its name. And since that time there have been substantial efforts to protest the name and call for the name change.
on May 23,2014 | 06:12AM
boolakanaka wrote:
4. The trademark Redskins was declared harmful by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Redskins is a pejorative term for Native Americans and is a registered trademark that disparages an entire group and perpetuates a centuries old stereotype. The logo and term Redskins should never have been registered as a federally protected trademark, according to the report. (TrademarkAccess.com) 5. The report also says that, "to many Native Americans, the term 'Redskins' is associated with the barbaric practice of scalping. The record in this case is replete with evidence of bounty proclamations issued by the colonies and companies. These proclamations demonstrate that the term 'Redsk*ns' had its origins in the commodification of Indian skins and body parts; these 'Redsk*ns' were required as proof of Indian kill in order for bounty hunters to receive payment..."
on May 23,2014 | 06:13AM
tsboy wrote:
congress should stay out of sports, period. veterans are dying because of a lack of health care, and these bozos, democrats i might add, are trying to change the name of a football team. why not do something that really means something instead of wasting our time.
on May 23,2014 | 09:14AM
false wrote:
The dumbing down of a once great nation...
on May 23,2014 | 04:04PM
false wrote:
Legalize pot, Let go prisoners, we're a racist nation, christianity is bad...
on May 23,2014 | 04:07PM
false wrote:
No respect around the world...
on May 23,2014 | 04:07PM
false wrote:
I'd say it's been a great 6 years...
on May 23,2014 | 04:08PM
false wrote:
Thanks BHO, can't wait to see what's next...
on May 23,2014 | 04:09PM
false wrote:
I always wondered what Brian Schatz actually did.
on May 24,2014 | 01:00AM
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