Opponents of the Washington Redskins team name are opening a new front in their battle. The Oneida Indian Nation plans to run radio ads in the Washington market Sunday and Monday, and in the markets of the opposing team when the NFL franchise plays its eight road games, Erik Brady reported for USA Today.
The media offensive follows efforts to revoke the team’s trademark, supportive commentaries by newspaper columnists, irate statements from journalist of color groups, a bill in Congress, backing from D.C. government officials and refusal by some radio stations to say the name on the air.
“But you won’t hear the ads on the station owned by team owner Daniel Snyder,” Brady reported.
“WTEM, also known as ESPN 980, rejected the ad in one minute, according to an email stream that the Oneida Nation shared with USA TODAY Sports. Lewis Schreck, the radio station’s senior vice president, used two words and seven exclamation points: ‘No way!!!!!!!’ “
Brady also reported, “The advertisement, which is timed for the Washington team’s opening game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, closes with these words: ‘We do not deserve to be called “redskins,” we deserve to be treated as what we are — Americans.’ “
The story continued, “The ad that airs this weekend begins with the voice of a narrator, who says: ‘When a Philadelphia Eagles player used a racial slur to describe African-Americans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did the right thing. He said that racial language is, quote, “obviously wrong, insensitive and unacceptable.” ‘ “
Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter “speaks next: ‘I applaud Mr. Goodell for his actions. He is absolutely right; this kind of bigotry has no place in America. Now, with the Philadelphia Eagles playing Washington in the NFL’s first Monday night football game, the commissioner has the opportunity to stand up to bigotry again.
” ‘He can denounce the racial slur in the team name of the Washington Redskins. That word, “redskins,” is not a harmless term. The commissioner can, and should, use the same words he used to describe the Eagles player, because the term “redskins” is obviously wrong, insensitive and unacceptable.’
“Goodell called the Washington team name ‘a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect’ in a June letter to 10 members of Congress who’d urged him to reject the name. . . .”
The story continued, “The Oneida Indian Nation, based in Central New York, gave Cooperstown High School $10,000 earlier this year toward the purchase of new uniforms after the school changed its name from Redskins to Hawkeyes, a nod to Natty Bumppo, hero of James Fenimore Cooper‘s Leatherstocking Tales series.”
The issue of stereotyping can cut different ways in the controversy.
“In yesterday’s Washington Post, a story appeared about Chief Zee, the African-American Redskins fan who has been the team’s semi-official mascot for 35 years,” the Indian Country Today Media Network reported on Thursday, describing 72-year-old Zema Williams. “The profile was written by Mike Wise, a clear advocate of changing the Washington team’s name and a thorn in the side of the fans who are dead-set against the change.”
The piece suggested that “Wise’s story is rife with remarks that could be taken as playing on stereotypes of black Americans. On the ever-lively Washington Post comments section below the story, Zee’s defenders are calling the article a racially-charged hit piece on a ‘sick old man’ (Williams is undergoing cataract surgery) whose intention has always been to ‘make people smile.’ Zee’s critics counter that one ethnic minority parodying another (Zee freely uses the word Injun) is old-timey minstrelsy times two. . . . “
Polls have established that the general public gives Zee and the Redskins name a pass. In May, an Associated Press-GfK poll showed that nationally, nearly four in five Americans don’t think the team should change its name. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.
Writing for Forbes, media writer Jeff Bercovici noted Wednesday that “Slate, the New Republic and Mother Jones are among those who say they’ll no longer print ‘Redskins,’ considering it an offensive racial slur. So is The MMQB, the Sports Illustrated spin-off site anchored by influential football writer Peter King.”
Bercovici added, “Realistically, there aren’t many news organizations whose shunning could put meaningful pressure on an NFL franchise, and none of them are left-wing political journals or upper-middle-brow websites.” The New York Times and the Associated Press said they would continue to use the name, and “Don’t expect the television networks, all of whom have to deal with the league as a corporate partner, to lead the charge, either.“
Mark Edwards, Anniston (Ala.) Star: It’s time for Redskins to give in on name
David Rohde, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who was held captive by the Taliban for seven months while reporting for the New York Times, chronicling his daring escape in 2009 in a five-part series, was asked about Syria Wednesday and the unintended consequences of military intervention.
“Personally, David, does it almost jar you that you now see after all you’ve been through, that military intervention, a strike is kind of the way forward?” Marco Werman of Public Radio International asked Rohde, now a columnist for Reuters, on “The World.”
“I think the best solution is working with moderates in the Syrian opposition,” Rohde replied. “I think we should have started that earlier. There are moderates in Afghanistan that I escaped with an Afghan journalist who was kidnapped with me. There was a moderate Pakistani army captain who took us onto his base and saved our lives. And you know, we’re all a product of our personal experiences, so I saw Jihadists. I lived with them. They are a threat. I see another side in the region. I understand that many Americans don’t.
“I wish the US media reported more about moderates, so I don’t think the answer is American military force. I think it’s a much more patient, long term US policy of strengthening moderates in the region, and engage in non military ways – economic ways, you know, training, education. And I again, I know there’s huge cynicism about this, but I think we have to find new ways and simply declaring everything another Iraq, it’s not realistic. There’s more than we can do than massive ground invasions or nothing at all.”
Rohde was participating in the national debate President Obama said he hoped to spark when he asked for congressional authorization to undertake a military strike against the Syrian government in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack.
Van Jones, who was “green czar” early in Obama’s administration, responded to a question about Syria during a conference call with reporters promoting Monday’s debut of CNN’s revamped “Crossfire,” in which Jones is one of four hosts.
“For me, the best I can tell, the president was trying — he spent about two years trying to not talk about Syria,” Jones responded to a question from Lee Bailey of eurweb.com. “He had a few other things to deal with. I think he did a brilliant job with Libya. He’s contained Iran. He’s got two wars going down on the flight path there, but I don’t think he prepared the American people to understand Syria, and you can’t start a car in fourth gear, and that weird sound you hear in Washington, D.C., the president trying to start a car in fourth gear when it comes to Syria.”
On his radio show, Fox News host Geraldo Rivera declared that while he regrettably supported President George W. Bush on Iraq, he won’t be doing the same for Obama and Syria. “The rebels are just as bad, just as vicious, just as anti-American as the dictator Bashar Assad is,” Rivera said, according to Matt Wilstein, reporting for Mediaite. “They’re fanatical religious rats, they’re brutal, they hate the West, they hate democracy, they’re Al Qaeda creeps.”
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was sympathetic toward Obama’s predicament, according to columnist Mary Mitchell, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“We are focused on losing the 1,300 [people estimated to be killed by the chemical attack], when we could lose a million more,” Jackson told Mitchell.
“What I would hope would happen in the interval while the president is putting pressure on the international community, is that an aggressive diplomatic effort gets under way that tries to avert this. No rock should be left unturned.”
The Arab American News, based in Dearborn, Mich., outside Detroit, noted in an editorial, “Anti-war Congressman Rick Nolan (D-Minnesota) said military intervention in Syria would cost $500 million to launch, and $1 billion per week to maintain.” It added, “We know all too well that Detroit, which just filed for bankruptcy, and whose residents are suffering every day, as a result of understaffing in the police and fire departments, in addition to lack of basic city services, could use that money. So, instead of using our resources to destroy Damascus, we ought to use them to save Detroit and get it out of bankruptcy. . . .”
Perry Bacon Jr., the Grio: Why the Congressional Black Caucus could determine if the US strikes Syria
Charles M. Blow, New York Times: The Era of Disbelief
Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: Dumb Into Damascus
Leo Hornak, “The World,” Public Radio International: You Should Really Hear the Arab Perspective Before you Debate the Syrian Conflict
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: President Obama’s Syria Strike Poses Major Challenge to Backers
Esther Iverem, SeeingBlack.com: Movies, Marching, Mayhem
Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Attack on Syria would be latest bad idea
Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Not This Time. Not in Syria.
David Rohde, Reuters: For Obama, a contradiction too many
David Rohde, Reuters: The debate we should be having on Syria
Marco Werman, “The World,” Public Radio International: Many Syrian-Americans Support a US Military Strike, but not Salah Asfoura
Armstrong Williams blog: A folly of Syria