The federal government is coming apart at the seams in Washington, D.C. and Congress is on vacation — excuse me, in recess — but our fearless leaders are focused like lasers on one of the most pressing issues on our national agenda: the name of the Washington Redskins.
Our leaders, including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would like us to worry about the Redskins while putting less important issues like the economy, Iraq, the Internal Revenue Service, the Veterans Administration and Obamacare on the back burner. Oops, I forgot about the tens of thousands of destitute Central American children pouring across our southern border with Mexico. Other than that, everything is under control in Our Nation’s Capital.
Although a 2004 poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans weren’t offended by the name Redskins, a vocal minority claim to be insulted. But someone forgot to deliver that politically correct message to the mostly Native American student body at tiny Wellpinit High School in northeastern Washington state. Those students, most of whom belong to the Spokane Tribe, love their school’s nickname: Redskins. The Seattle Times noted 70 U.S. high schools had Redskin mascots last year.
“Whenever I think of Redskins, I think of pride in our sports teams,” said 17-year-old student Kyra Antone, a member of the local tribe. Wellpinit School District official John Teters added he’s annoyed when national media call for comment about “this asinine process.” In other words, Enough already!
We were the West Seattle Indians when I was in high school back in the Stone Age, and we loved our nickname, which connoted bravery and dignity as exemplified by Chief Sealth, who welcomed English settlers to West Seattle many years ago. A politically correct principal intervened about 20 years ago, however, and changed the school’s nickname to Wildcats. But anyone who graduated from good old West Side High before then still is proud to be an Indian.
Back in Washington, Obama, Reid & Co. stirred up a political hornet’s nest when they urged Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder to change the name of his team. “No way!” Snyder responded when politicians told him to adopt a new mascot for his popular team, once coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi. Nevertheless, the politicians persisted as Washington burned (not literally, of course).
Coincidentally, Obama’s obscure Patent and Trademark Office made news for the first time since who knows when by canceling six federal trademark registrations owned by Snyder. The Trademark Office tried that once before, in 1999, but Snyder won an appeal in 2003.
Conservative commentator Dr. Ben Carson nailed it when he wrote “the audacity of the Trademark Office in cancelling the Washington Redskins’ trademark is frightening. When the government is in charge of deciding what is offensive and what isn’t and has the power to punish ‘offenders,’ we move further away from a free society and closer to a tyrannical nanny state.” Amen!
Snyder’s attorney said the team will again appeal the Trademark Office’s decision. “The evidence in the current claim is virtually identical to the evidence a federal judge decided was insufficient . . . more than 10 years ago,” he added.
“I have always taken a tremendous amount of pride in my association with the Redskins,” said former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, a member of the National Football League Hall of Fame. “When I hear the name Redskins I think of pride, courage, honor, class and respect.” I feel the same about the West Seattle Indians.
So, to quote Washington’s fight song, “Hail to the Redskins.” Go Skins!
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is proud to be an old West Seattle Indian.