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Costas on Redskins nickname: It is an ‘insult, slur’; Gets ripped on Twitter

Bob Costas became the first big-name commentator to weigh in on the Redskin nickname controversy within the context of a NFL game involving Washington. He did it last night at halftime on NBC.

This platform is highly relevant since Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is part of the entity that owns the copyrights to the telecast: The NFL.

Costas, though, is Costas. Obviously, he didn’t believe he could let the issue go by without making a statement.

It seems as if Costas measured his words for a NFL telecast. He was very careful not to offend Snyder or fans that support use of the nickname. He might not have meandered as much if the commentary came on a non-NFL platform.

Costas, though, eventually weaved his way to his main point at the end:

“Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital has maintained its name.  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 toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.

“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. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense “might” legitimately be taken?”

Naturally, Twitter blew up with Redskins fans who were outraged over Costas’ position.

Yep, should be an interesting Monday for Costas.

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Here is a transcript of the commentary:

With Washington playing Dallas here tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to acknowledge the ongoing controversy about the name “Redskins.”

Let’s start here. There is no reason to believe that owner Daniel Snyder, or any official or player from his team, harbors animus toward Native Americans or wishes to disrespect them. This is undoubtedly also true of the vast majority of those who don’t think twice about the longstanding moniker. And in fact, as best can be determined, even a majority of Native Americans say they are not offended.

But, having stipulated that, there’s still a distinction to be made. Objections to names like “Braves,” “Chiefs,” “Warriors,” and the like strike many of us as political correctness run amok. These nicknames honor, rather than demean. They are pretty much the same as “Vikings,” “Patriots,” or even “Cowboys.” And names like “Blackhawks,” “Seminoles,” and “Chippewas,” while potentially more problematic, can still be okay provided the symbols are appropriately respectful – which is where the Cleveland Indians with the combination of their name and “Chief Wahoo” logo have sometimes run into trouble.

A number of teams, mostly in the college ranks, have changed their names in response to objections. The Stanford Cardinal and the Dartmouth Big Green were each once the Indians; the St. John’s Redmen have become the Red Storm, and the Miami of Ohio Redskins – that’s right, Redskins – are now the Red Hawks.

Still, the NFL franchise that represents the nation’s capital has maintained its name.  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 toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, or members of any other ethnic group.

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. It is fair to say that for a long time now, and certainly in 2013, no offense has been intended. But, if you take a step back, isn’t it clear to see how offense “might” legitimately be taken?

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Costas on Redskins nickname: It is an ‘insult, slur’; Gets ripped on Twitter

  1. Little Bobby Costas divorced any Midwest values he may have been exposed to and returned to his big-city New York elitist roots. What’s next? Will he have a show on MSLSD with its parade of clueless clowns headlined by Al “Not So” Sharpton and Chrissy “Tingle Up My Leg” Matthews?

  2. Maybe Costas is getting ripped because he doesn’t get to the real point, so he lets the pro-”Redskins” crowd off the hook. Here’s what he should have said:

    History is unfortunately full of examples of one group of people mistreating another. This is why there are words that we no longer use to denote those mistreated people. We all know the words, we just don’t use them. There is a word for black people that we don’t use because it calls to mind the heartbreaking crimes of slavery and segregation. There are words for Jews that we don’t utter because of the Holocaust and what preceded it for centuries. In fact, almost no race, ethnicity, religion or nationality has escaped gross mistreatment by another. So I’m sure that you can think of a word that you would never want to hear applied to YOU. Stop and think of one now. “Redskins” is one such word. To many native Americans – not just to a hyper-sensitive few, but to countless many – this word is offensive and deeply painful, because it calls to mind the slaughter and oppression of native Americans at the hands of foreigners starting in 1492 and lasting for centuries. This is a historical fact, just as the pain these people feel today when they hear this word IS A FACT. Dan Snyder and the Washington franchise can choose to ignore this – it’s a free country – but it won’t change the facts.

  3. How is it that the name “Redskins” has escaped the notice of Bob Costas for the last, say, 40 years of his career? Perhaps because the “controversy” over the D.C. team’s nickname only became in vogue in the last couple of months, when a few high-profile media members invented it. It is a controversy to them and only them. Fans don’t care. Non-fans don’t care. Most Native Americans don’t care. The lack of controversy over this name for the last 50 years is what makes the current “outrage” over it such disingenuous bullshit. It is phony outrage. It is an outrage of convenience, a contrived controversy convenient to a handful of politically correct media members, many of whose brethren find them to be tiresome scolds.

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