Confederate Flags and Washington’s Football Team
So. Washington, D.C. has this football team. And it has a name.
Some people want to change this team name, as it is flagrantly racist. I must say, seems rather reasonable to me. We live in the DC area, and I will not buy team jerseys, gear, etc. for my sons (Go Ravens!). Yet it seems I am in a distinct minority.
Our blog has covered the topic of this team name before, and in more thoughtful depth than I will. But I am reminded of this topic today by reading about a disturbed reaction to a confederate flag flown outside the White House. Something sticks out at me.
The arguments against changing the name seem to run something like this: 1) We’re sorry you are offended (where “sorry” means something other than “I feel bad about what I’ve done and will strive to change my behavior”). 2) That name means something different to us. 3) We can’t acknowledge our history without keeping this name.
Team owner Dan Snyder:
“I respect the opinions of those who disagree. I want them to know that I do hear them, and I will continue to listen and learn,” Synder wrote in a letter to season ticket holders. “But we cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
He will kindly continue to learn that all the complaints are B.S.
Here’s my question: how is this argument any different from arguments defending the flying of the Confederate flag? Perhaps you can say that what is really offensive about the Confederate flag is that it was a flag of rebellion. But most of those who have a negative reaction have that reaction because to them it symbolizes a racist defense of slavery.
Now, defenders of the Washington team name, you may be in favor of flying the Confederate flag, in which case your positions are consistent. But if you think flying the stars and bars is, well, kinda sketchy, maybe you ought to reconsider your position on the Washington team name?
Here’s the thing: we none of us get to simply choose what words and symbols mean. “F**k you! To me, that means I’m simply sweet on you, so you will have to accept that I choose those words to convey that message.” “You are such a b***h! To me, that means you are an admirable woman. My family and I have a long history of using the word this way since we like dogs. So I’m sorry if it offends you, but we’re going to continue using the word and you’ll have just have to know we are absolutely not misogynist. To deny our right to use this word means you are insulting the history of my family.” “To me, a burning cross on your lawn means ‘Welcome to the neighborhood!'” Etc.
The continued use of this team name is forever baffling to this transplant to the greater DC metro area.