Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 14, 2013
A Washington, D.C. high school has hopped on the anti-Redskins bandwagon, as it considers banning the local NFL football team’s paraphernalia from its classrooms.
According to WJLA, the principal at Wilson High School in upper Northwest D.C. plans on discussing the concept with his students in the near future.
“I do plan on having a discussion with my student council officers and representative to get their take on this idea,” Wilson High School principal Pete Cahalltold WJLA.
His decision came after a Wilson student approached him and suggested the gear should be banned because some Native Americans view it as offensive.
“I’m going to bring to them a concern of a student they represent, and let them debate and discuss and come up with a proposal — or not,” Cahall told The Washington Post. “I’ve got no dog in the fight. If nothing else, it’s a learning opportunity.”
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has adamantly defended the team’s name, penning in a letter last week that the name stands for team pride and is not meant to be offensive or derogatory to anyone.
“So when I consider the Washington Redskins name, I think of what it stands for. I think of the Washington Redskins traditions and pride I want to share with my three children, just as my father shared with me — and just as you have shared with your family and friends,” Snyder wrote in a letter to season ticket holders.
“I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn. But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name “Redskins” continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
He also noted in his letter a poll of nearly 1,000 self-identified Native Americans nationwide conducted by the Annenberg Center for Public Policy which found that 90 percent of Native Americans did not take any offense to the team’s name.
Meanwhile, everyone from NBC sports analyst Bob Costas to President Barack Obama have urged Snyder and the NFL to consider changing the franchise’s name. Costas launched into a tirade against the team’s name during the halftime report at Sunday’s Redskins-Dallas Cowboys game, arguing that the ‘Skins name should be changed because it’s demeaning to Native Americans but that names like the MLB’s Atlanta Braves or the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs are ok because they’re terms of honor.
“But think for a moment about the term “Redskins,” and how it truly differs from all the others. Ask yourself what the equivalent would be if directed towards African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or any other ethnic group,” he said. “When considered that way, “Redskins” can’t possibly honor a heritage or noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term. It’s an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent.”
Earlier this month, Obama took a break from participating in talks to end the government shutdown to voice his opinion on the controversy.