The author has pixelated racist team logos in the above photo out of respect for our Native American readers. [Photo credit: Lee Diehr]
Washington’s football franchise will keep its absurdly racist name, team owner Dan Snyder announced late Monday night. The statement rehearsed all of the usual talking points. Snyder whitesplains to offended minorities that the name is really about some conveniently vague “heritage” and “history”, and besides lots of other Native Americans aren’t upset so what’s the big deal?
The statement also announced the creation of a Washington [racial slur redacted] Original Americans Foundation, an initiative likely to earn praise from some of the team’s critics.
That, of course, is the entire point. There’s a reason why Snyder explains that he launched the initiative “quietly and respectfully, away from the spotlight” – in a front page public announcement addressed “To Everyone in our Washington [redacted] Nation”. It’s a PR stunt; not, as he insists, evidence that he’s “so serious about the importance of this cause”.
But there’s something more egregious here than the usual base cynicism of a giant corporation that can only show compassion as a way of protecting its bottom line. It’s Snyder presenting as laudable and noteworthy what everyone should expect as basic, unremarkable human decency.
Did you know that Native Americans often live in dire poverty, experience horrific health issues and social problems, and lack all kinds of basic infrastructure? If so, you’re probably just a typical American with at least some minimal awareness of the suffering of others. Alternatively: you’re Dan Snyder, and you had to go on a 20 state tour of 26 reservations to figure this out.
More to the point, Snyder has learned that we “should commit to making a real, lasting positive impact on Native American quality of life.”
Again, this is true, but it’s obvious to the point of utter triviality. Of course we should do everything we can to help the poor and oppressed.
Snyder seems to think these basic insights into not being an inhuman monster give him the moral high ground to chide critics that Native Americans “need action, not words.”
But this is mostly an indication of how abysmally oblivious he was in the first place.
For more Washington football coverage – Read: Hell to the … from a former Washington Post reporter.
Carl Beijer is a writer who focuses on the Left, linguistics, and international affairs.