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Defense of "Redskins" Name Shattered - Pressure to Now Change "Racist" Name Grows
Name Was Not Selected to Honor Indians, But Rather Just to Save Money, Says New Evidence
While there is considerable doubt that Dietz was even an Indian, there is no longer any doubt that the name was not chosen to honor American Indians. It was simply to save money.
A just-unearthed edition of the Hartford Courant from July 6, 1933 quotes Marshall, the team owner, as saying: “The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins.”
Instead, says Marshall, he picked the name "Redskins," which even then had racist and derogatory connotations, so he could continue using the American Indian logo, while ditching the team name "Braves" to avoid confusion with the Boston baseball team which was using that name.
“This latest revelation completely undercuts Snyder’s major defense of a word which dictionaries, court and agency decisions, virtually all American Indian organizations, and many other groups have declared is racist and derogatory towards American Indians,” says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Banzhaf is helping to coordinate efforts to use legal action, based upon existing federal broadcast law, to stop radio and TV stations from continuing to use the word on the public’s airwaves, especially during prime time broadcasts when young children are exposed to it.
It’s not clear whether Snyder was deliberately lying about the origin of the team’s name to defend its continued racist use, or whether he was ignorant of its history, says Banzhaf.
But, in any event, his major defense has now been shattered, and the mere fact that he has established a foundation to throw a few crumbs of so-called “charity” at a select tribes will not shield him from ever growing legal and other pressures to stop being a racist, Banzhaf argues.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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