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Thread: Washington Redskins Daily Show and Scare Tactics

  1. #1

    Default Washington Redskins Daily Show and Scare Tactics

    I just watched the segment on the Daily Show about the Washington Redskins name. A lot of it was very good, but there was something about it that just left a bad taste in my mouth.

    For those who don't know, a group of eight Native American representatives (the show didn't say which tribes) were brought in to discuss why the name was offensive. There was also a group of four non-Natives (three white, one black) in favor of keeping the name. The non-Natives were not told that there was going to be a discussion/debate between them and the Native American representatives before entering the show, and reported that they "felt threatened" when the group of Native representatives entered the room to argue with them. The interview actually had to be conducted in two parts because the non-Natives were so distressed by the surprise entrance that they all left the room.

    This has been cited dozens of times in comments and articles basically as "proof that white people/non Natives are being really racist and only feel bad about it when they have to defend their racism in front of those it effects."

    I'm not here to discuss the offensiveness of the Washington team's name, but here are several things I've noticed about the debate:

    • Twice as many Native American representatives non-natives in the debate, therefore creating a 2:1 debate ratio.

    • Native Americans all professionally groomed and dressed in formal business attire except for one (t-shirt underneath a suitjacket). Non-natives wearing casual daily clothing, everyday hair and makeup.

    • Interview with non-natives kept at lighthearted tone

    What the viewers were expected to see, through filming and context, was "a bunch of racist whiteys suddenly realizing that what they're saying actually hurts feelings and getting scared." And yes, that did happen -- to an extent.

    But here's what happens when you remove race:

    People talking about why they like a team name, hanging out as if they're sitting in their own living room. Suddenly twice as many people, serious-faced, all dressed to the nines, groomed like they're about to appear in court, flood into the room and tell the unsuspecting loungers that they're about to debate on television.

    Gee, I wonder why the non-natives might have been so scared they left the room?

    I'm all for equality, but doesn't anyone find it embarrassing when popular bloggers or TV networks use scare tactics like this to prove a point? Especially when that point already has a lot of merit and doesn't need to be pumped up to this level!

  2. #2


    I think the team should change their name to the major tribe of that region the Monacan. Then switch their logo, mascot, and paraphernalia to match the culture of that tribe, much in the same way the Florida Seminoles did. Redskins is too generalized, and doesn't quite match with Native American imagery outside of the Plains Indians. The talk of offense and feelings being hurt, however, should be immediately dismissed and cast aside as worthless. Why? Because there is no consensus among Native Americans that the name of a sports team is offensive and needs to be changed. I would argue that if there is, there needs to be some serious soul searching, because being bothered by the name of a sports team and coming up with some of the crackpot conspiracy theories that opponents have come up with are absolutely absurd. There are such bigger issues facing the Native American tribes than the name of a sports team.

  3. #3


    This is an excellent discussion point, Feeka. The following is a different and more extreme example than the Redskins issue (both in terms of the beliefs of those being challenged, and also the reactions towards those people), but I think it shows how willing the media is to use underhand tactics to undermine something they disagree with:

    In Britain, the media tend to employ quite similar tactics. For example, there are two (fairly sizeable) right-wing political movements, the BNP (British National Party) and EDL (English Defence League). I personally find the doctrine of both groups to be xenophobic and wrongheaded, but I respect the right for people to have a platform on which to fairly discuss why they ascribe to one or both of those groups.

    Whenever the BNP, EDL or any other right-wing movement in Britain receives TV (or other media) coverage, the result tends to be a hatchet job. The media basically vilify everyone who supports these movements, and only interview the most extreme and ill-informed members of these groups, to try and skew public opinion of them. This is quite often followed by an interview with a decidedly more articulate individual from an opposing party or movement. These kinds of discrediting tactics seem to have been deemed fair game, primarily because the opinions of fringe political groups are largely unpopular.

    I disagree with racism, I disagree with people who try and trivialise racist actions on any level, but I don't think people whose beliefs don't chime with modern 'political correctness' should be mocked and vilified for their stances.

    Before anyone jumps in with 'you seem to have a lot of sympathy for someone who doesn't agree with them', my friend's Dad was the head of the BNP. I heard first hand the kinds of abuse and humiliating treatment he got for espousing his (admittedly rather controversial) political views.
    Last edited by Sanch; 08-Oct-2014 at 19:48.

  4. #4


    I'm still amazed that the Washington R.... are still holding onto their name. My dad was half Lenni Lenape Indian and I was raised as such, that and German as my mom was German. That said, could you imagine having an African American mascot and naming your team, The Washington Blackskins. I'm sure that would go over well.

    I did see the interview on The Daily Show and I had read an article criticizing that interview in The Washington Post. I agree with the post in that the Washington fans were blindsided. In fact, at least one of the Washington fans said they felt threatened. No one should have to be in that position. There are better and safer ways to discuss a serious subject.

  5. #5


    @Flingon: In a nutshell: The reason Native Americans are pushing for the name change is mostly because the romanticized, fictional "noble savage" imagery is nearly the only representation of American Indians in the media, and that's damaging to self-image (esp. to the kids growing up) when the only role you play in the media is of a mascot or historical relic, not as a real, functioning part of society. (I assume there would be less of a problem if there were more human representations of American Indians in the media since I don't hear the same level of outrage at the Toaster Strudel kid, but I'm not an expert on psychology.) In any case, that's not really what I'm trying to discuss.

    @ Napsalot, thanks for the input. I'm glad I'm not the only one embarrassed at this sort of thing.

    @ Dogboy: The word "Redskins" was originally a term used by Native Americans to describe their own skin color. It became controversial during the days of the "Wild West" when both whites and natives were scalping each other for bounty and trophies, and it was later assumed that the "red" was used to refer to the blood. I find it unfortunate that the term was turned into a slur, especially since it has such benign origins, but I can't control how history has changed the context of words.

    On the issue of the logo, you've brought up a point that many others have about Native racism = racism to blacks. But, there is a marked difference between what most people picture for black stereotypes vs native american ones. Most of the remaining Indian mascots are realistically drawn, but based on popular misconceptions of real Native culture. Black stereotypes, on the other hand, are usually extreme caricatures in the "grotesque" tradition, and are based off of stuff that non-blacks basically invented out of thin air/taken off of the characters in Uncle Tom's cabin. It's not exactly an accurate comparison, because regardless of race, it's always much more of an insult to be depicted as grotesque. But I digress...

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