In her ruling yesterday, Kollar-Kotelly said the trademark board had one legal question to consider: could the word "redskin," used with the popular football franchise since 1933, disparage a "substantial composite" of Native Americans at the time the first Redskins trademark was registered in 1967?1. Can anybody use for the word "redskin" in a sentence, in a way that isn't racially dispariging? (And that doesn't involve potatoes, etc.) I can't.
2. Is the litmus test really whether the term was offensive in 1967? Here's a verse from the original "Hail to the Redskins" fight song circa 1967:
Scalp 'em, swamp 'emYeah. Clearly 1967 was a different time, if people were OK with singing that after touchdowns. I think maybe the Redskins original owner may have passed on using a racially diverse focus group to determine whether those lyrics might be offensive to someone.
We will take 'em big score
Read 'em, weep 'em, touchdown
We want heap more
Fight on, Fight on
'Til you have won
Sons of Wash-ing-ton.
[Redskins founder] George Preston Marshall, who named the team in 1933, had a despicable record on race matters. Washington, remember, was the last NFL franchise to integrate its roster, and Marshall agreed to do so, in 1962, after the U.S. Department of the Interior threatened to prevent him from using D.C. Stadium for its home games.You might think Daniel Snyder would be more sensitive to racial issues. His Jewish ancestors had to endure some form of persecution over the years, if memory serves correctly. But no, he's been fighting this hard. Whatever; I shouldn't expect great things from a man who commutes across town via helicopter.