We’ve had this long-simmering football controversy here in the upper midwest — a North Dakota football team named itself after an Indian tribe. They try to argue that it’s not racist and claim that it’s a respectful homage to the natives, but look at the history of such naming elsewhere: the Washington DC football team name is unabashedly racist.
This Washington football team was named by one of the most vehement racists in the history of American professional sports. When George Marshall bought the team in 1932, they were called the Boston Braves. He changed the name — to a slur, because he was a racist — and moved them to Washington. He made “Dixie” one of the team’s fight songs and refused to hire black players well into the 1960s. The NFL integrated in 1946 but Marshall’s team held out until the federal government actually forced them to field black players in 1963. The all-white Washington teams of the 1950s and 1960s were among the worst in the league, but segregation was more important to Marshall than winning football games. The NFL had actually already been raciallyintegrated until black players were suddenly banned in 1933. Interviews with owners suggest that Marshall was responsible for the ban.
This is the man who named the team and white supremacy and racism obviously informed his every decision. In his will he insisted that his foundation not spend any money on “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” It is extremely hard to believe that this man selected the name — specially changed the name from a less offensive term for American Indians to this term — to “honor” anyone, the usual argument used by the team’s modern defenders.
The current owner has vowed to never change the name, and is desperately working to build up some PR spin to cover his butt. So what does he do?
The Washington DC-area NFL franchise has commissioned veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz to conduct some focus groups to see how American football fans feel about the franchise’s name, which is a vile racial slur.
Oh, yeah. When you want to whitewash racism, you call the professionals: a Republican apparatchik. Everyone knows that.
If you read some of the linked articles, you’ll discover that one of the reasons the team refuses to change their name is that they did a poll…and found that Americans preferred that they keep their racist name, 9:1. Are we at all surprised? And is it any wonder that they’ve now hired a Republican pollster to skew the bias even more?