Charles Krauthammer: Redskins and reason
Fifty years ago the preferred, most respectful term for African-Americans was Negro. The word appears 15 times in Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. Negro replaced a long list of insulting words in common use during decades of public and legal discrimination.
With a rare few legacy exceptions, Negro carries an unmistakably patronizing and demeaning tone.
Similarly, regarding the further ethnic breakdown of Congress, you wouldn't say: "And by my count, there are two redskins."
I know there are surveys that say that most Native Americans aren't bothered by the word. But that's not the point. My objection is not rooted in pressure from various minorities or fear of public polls or public scolds.
Not because I took a poll of Roma to find out if they were offended. If some mysterious disease had carried away every gypsy on the planet, and there were none left to offend, I still wouldn't use it.
Let's recognize that that there are many people of good will for whom "Washington Redskins" contains sentimental and historical attachment - and not an ounce of intended animus. So let's turn down the temperature. What's at issue is not high principle but adaptation to a change in linguistic nuance. A close call, though I personally would err on the side of not using the word if others are available.
Choose whatever name you like. But let's go easy on the other side. We're not talking Brown v. Board of Education here.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for The Washington Post.
READER COMMENTS: 7
- Bad Joe: Levasseur stalls again - 2
- Good Joe: Kenney for Executive Council - 1
- Insurance exchange: NH Dems, GOP switch sides - 2
- Bottle store blues: The useless grocery mandate - 2
- Finding city revenue: Seek more private partners - 0
- Putin's freedom: Obama's weakness - 42
- Safe seats, frequent flyers - 0
- Sports volunteers: Eric Mommsen embodies the spirit - 0
- Issa drops in: Doesn't match media slant - 1
READER COMMENTS: 0
- NHIAA Tournament Roundup: Central breaks away from Exeter - 0
- College Hockey: Dartmouth drops tournament opener - 0
- FEMA OKs $8m for repairs in Lincoln, Lebanon - 0
- Official says Manchester lost out on $1.5m for cell tower court has now ordered built - 0
- John Habib's City Sports: Derryfield's 'Mouse' made his mark - 0
- Rondo leads Celtics past Nets - 0
- Hats off to O'Neill, Monarchs - 0
- NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Maughn, Memorial top Londonderry - 0
- NHIAA Boys' Basketball: Giampetruzzi leads Trinity into D-I semis - 0
Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Turkey vultures not commonly seen in NH until fairly recently
Nashua cadet receives Civil Air Patrol award
Obamacare's new trick: Only temporary relief