July 2, 2014

Editorial: 'Redskins' still stirring the pot

A suburban Philadelphia public school is in the midst of a heated debate — the same one that the Saranac Lake School District had 13 years ago and that professional football is continuing to have today.

The issue is whether to continue with Redskins as the longstanding nickname and mascot of a sports team.

It seems as if almost nobody would now abide naming a team on any level — high school, college or professional — the Redskins. In fact and in “feel,” the name is a racial slur.

As the N word has been expunged from all civilized dialogue, so should the R word. Anyone who would suggest applying that moniker today would promptly be shouted down.

It has its roots in a history that wasn’t so sensitive to what an insult it was then and continues to be now.

The Neshaminy School Board has just voted to allow its school newspaper to ban the use of the word in editorials and letters to the editor but does not allow a blanket ban or the end of the mascot name.

The students on the paper must be given credit for seeing more deeply into the conflict than their adult overseers.

In 2001, a group in Saranac Lake had finally had enough of the abusive term. The board voted 6-1 to adopt the name Red Storm and relegate Redskins to history.

The only issue was whether the board should have the authority to make the decision or it should be put to a vote of the public — or even the students.

Meanwhile, across the nation, not only Redskins but “Indians” was being debated. Stanford University, one of the educational icons of the nation, changed “Indians” to “Cardinal” in what might have been a groundbreaking move. It wasn’t, as it has turned out. The Cleveland Indians, for example, continue to do business in Major League Baseball without a murmur.

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