Redskins owner: Let's get something straight -- we're not changing the name

The exciting conclusion to last night’s Quotes of the Day. This is an unusual story in that it gets progressively less interesting on the merits — how many different ways can there be to argue that “Redskins” is or isn’t offensive? — and more interesting as a test of wills/PR challenge.

Dan Snyder’s core message: This team is all about honoring Native Americans, not denigrating them.


Click for more. The question for this guy isn’t whether he believes what he says or how much of a financial hit he’s willing to take from any boycotts, which are likely to negligible. The question is how much of a distraction he’s willing to let it become. He can afford to engage on it right now because the team stinks and he’s got nothing better to do. But eventually they’ll return to glory and that’s when liberals will turn up the volume. Does he want to be nagged by this for years? Can he stand the supreme irritation of relentless self congratulatory, self-righteous left-wing moralizing when his team’s in the hunt for a Super Bowl? Good lord, they could break guys at Gitmo with that. And as a corollary, does he really want to become the leader of the opposition in politically correct America? The fact that liberal outfits like Slate and MSNBC decided to noisily champion this cause was enough to sharpen the lines of partisan/ideological divisions, but now that The One’s weighed in, the issue will begin to approach litmus-test territory. Is he prepared to become the hero of PC resistance and a villain who, if not quite the retrograde plutocrat that the Koch brothers are, is nonetheless an enemy of “enlightened” America?

If there’s any owner in sports who might kind of dig that attention, it’s Dan Snyder:

Really, for all the work Harjo did to eradicate the name for parts of three decades, for everything Halbritter and others do now, the person who did the most to amplify the message of the crowd is Snyder himself.

When USA Today’s Erik Brady asked about the issue in May, the owner’s hubris got the best of him: “We’ll never change the name,” Snyder said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

That was it. That was enough to mobilize many of the apathetic and ambivalent to join the advocates and the hard-core activists. When a billionaire takes a position as a bully instead of at least acknowledging the people who are offended, then he starts to lose what middle ground remained…

It’s not the Oneida Nation, the Cherokee Nation or any one of 450-plus federally recognized sovereign peoples. It’s called the world’s tribe, and it is bigger and infinitely more powerful than an 80-year-old fan base and its idea of “tradition.”

That was published in WaPo two days ago, keying off of Obama’s comments this past weekend. Interestingly, the letter Snyder published today does, emphatically, respectfully acknowledge the fact that people are offended and tries to counter it by basically arguing that he’s the guy who’s really pro-Indian here, not his critics. That’s a notable softening of his “NEVER, NEVER” position before, but the fact that he’d think to publish this letter at all means he’s not going to give ground on this anytime soon. Check back in five years, maybe?

Exit quotation:

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