So Frank Luntz is going to craft language to whitewash the racist name of Washington’s football team?
This Washington football team was named by one of the most vehement racists in the history of American professional sports. When George Marshall bought the team in 1932, they were called the Boston Braves. He changed the name — to a slur, because he was a racist — and moved them to Washington. He made “Dixie” one of the team’s fight songs and refused to hire black players well into the 1960s. The NFL integrated in 1946 but Marshall’s team held out until the federal government actually forced them to field black players in 1963. The all-white Washington teams of the 1950s and 1960s were among the worst in the league, but segregation was more important to Marshall than winning football games. The NFL had actually already been raciallyintegrated until black players were suddenly banned in 1933. Interviews with owners suggest that Marshall was responsible for the ban.
This is the man who named the team and white supremacy and racism obviously informed his every decision. In his will he insisted that his foundation not spend any money on “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” It is extremely hard to believe that this man selected the name — specially changed the name from a less offensive term for American Indians to this term — to “honor” anyone, the usual argument used by the team’s modern defenders.
The current owner of the team, an incompetent lying corporate buffoon named Dan Snyder, is not as racist as George Marshall. (Few living people are.) He is merely dumb, vain, greedy and stubborn. He attempted to sue the Washington City Paper out of existence for printing a story that accurately described him as a thin-skinned moronic avatar of greed dedicated to bleeding fans of his team dry. He eventually dropped the case.
The City Paper, it should be noted, refuses to use the teams’ name, and refers to it as the “Pigskins,” which would be a fine replacement. The Kansas City Star has a similar policy but, notably, none of the other major Washington-area media outlets do. If the Washington Post — or Disney-owned ESPN! — adopted a similar policy, it could actually force a change, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. Some Post columnists have written about their opposition to the name, but the paper needs access to the team to be able to have a sports section. It should be noted that even Jack Abramoff knows the name is gross. (It should also be noted that he and Snyder were quite friendly: “A few seasons later, I was given first choice of the new suites in the former press section and our expenditures at Fed Ex Field grew exponentially.”)