Change the Redskins' nickname? No, furor distracts us from real issues

2013-11-25T00:00:00Z Change the Redskins' nickname? No, furor distracts us from real issuesBy William F. Shughart II Arizona Daily Star
November 25, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Members of the Oneida Indian Nation are demanding that the National Football League’s Washington Redskins change the team’s name to something less offensive to Indians. Sportscaster Bob Costas calls the current nickname “an insult, a slur.”

Following an announcement by Dan Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, that he refuses to do any such thing, President Obama joined the fray, saying that if he owned a professional sports team and knew that its name “was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

Obama has better things to worry about — and so do the Redskins, who have won just three games this season.

For starters, Congress has not passed a single federal budget on Obama’s watch. And so, America has been poised on the edge of a “fiscal cliff” twice in the past year. Headlines about budget “sequesters,” furloughs, partial government shutdowns and looming defaults on the federal debt have become routine.



The activation of new health insurance “exchanges,” one of the centerpieces of the Affordable Care Act — aka “Obamacare” — was nothing short of disastrous. 

NSA snooping of phone calls and emails , scandals at the IRS for holding up the applications of “tea party” groups seeking tax-exempt status, looming fiscal train wrecks for Social Security and Medicare, and trillion-dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see. You would think the president had enough on his plate, but that is not all.

The economy still has not come anywhere close to recovering from the recent financial crisis. Unemployment remains unconscionably high, many employees are being shifted to part-time status so employers can avoid Obamacare’s  mandate and many others have stopped looking for jobs altogether.

The president’s economic policies, such as his push for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 per hour, are hurting the very people, especially young African-Americans, to whom he promised “change.”



The Middle East is in flames, with civil war in Syria and bloody riots in Cairo. Iran still has nuclear ambitions. The list of global trouble spots could go on ,and many countries have lost faith in the president’s ability to lead.

Obama at least did not blame the controversy over the Redskins’ name on George W. Bush or the tea party, as he does most everything else.

By some accounts, “Redskins” was adopted by Washington’s NFL team in 1933 to honor coach William “Lone Star” Dietz, whose mother was a Sioux.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggests keeping the team’s nickname but changing the logo from the profile of a feathered American Indian warrior to a red-skinned potato. That is about the level of seriousness this tempest in a teapot deserves.

William F. Shughart II is a senior fellow with the Independent Institute and a professor at Utah State University.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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