Has the outrage and controversy over the decades-old name of Washington’s NFL franchise been more of an example of media hysteria than actual offense? A new Washington Post poll conducted over a five-month period makes the case plainly that Daniel Snyder may have been correct all along. Despite massive media coverage about Native American protests over the name “Redskins,” the polls shows that only a tiny fraction of Native Americans care about the issue at all, and that a vast majority don’t even consider the term redskin offensive:
Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.
The survey of 504 people in every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the exact same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations.
Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.
This must come as a shock to the social-justice warriors who have plagued the Washington Redskins over the last several years. As the Post notes, it might also surprise their lawyers, who have tried stripping Snyder of trademark protection by claiming that the term is objectively offensive. That fight has reached the Supreme Court, although it’s not clear whether the court will grant cert for the case as the district court ruling has an appeal pending in the 4th Circuit.
These findings show that the fight has wasted lots and lots of time, money, and especially attention. It’s a non-crisis, a made-for-media controversy that matters to very, very few people. The poll shows that 73% of Native Americans don’t feel that redskin is a disrespectful term at all, a figure that hardly budges between tribe members (75%) and non-tribe members (71%). Only 20% of respondents think this issue has any personal importance to them, and 90% aren’t bothered by the team using it as its name — whether they are football fans or not. Only 19% of liberal Native Americans are bothered by the team name, while 80% of that demographic doesn’t care at all.
And what about the purge of Native American imagery from sports overall? Yeah, that’s also a bust. Only 8% pronounced themselves bothered significantly by that imagery, while 73% said they aren’t bothered at all by it. Even among liberals, only 10% said they were significantly impacted by it, with 65% shrugging it off altogether. Non-football fans — who should arguably be more sensitive to it — come in at 7/75. Schools that spent minor fortunes on changing team names and mascots might be chagrined to discover that they’ve been duped by a tiny minority — and the media.
Will that make a difference to the social-justice warriors? Naaaaah:
Activists, however, dismiss the billionaire’s insistence that the name is intended to honor Native Americans. They argue that he must act if even a small minority of Indians are insulted by the term — a dictionary-defined slur. They have also maintained that opinions have evolved as his unyielding stance has been subjected to a barrage of condemnation by critics ranging from “South Park” to the United Church of Christ.
But for more than a decade, no one has measured what the country’s 5.4 million Native Americans think about the controversy. Their responses to The Post poll were unambiguous: Few objected to the name, and some voiced admiration.
Gee, how did this massive difference get overlooked? It couldn’t have been that media outlets — which went out of their way to pander to the protests, refusing in some instances to use the team name in reports — helped gin up the controversy for their own social-justice ends, could it? Or that Democrats in Washington that attempted to extort Snyder into changing the name with the prospects of a new stadium wanted to burnish their own social-justice cred at the expense of reality? Hmmmm.
In response, Snyder should announce that he’s changing the team name … to the St. Louis Redskins. I’d guess that the city won’t give him any grief over a new stadium or the team name right now.