Charles Krauthammer: Redskins and reason
Fifty years ago the preferred, most respectful term for African-Americans was Negro. The word appears 15 times in Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. Negro replaced a long list of insulting words in common use during decades of public and legal discrimination.
With a rare few legacy exceptions, Negro carries an unmistakably patronizing and demeaning tone.
Similarly, regarding the further ethnic breakdown of Congress, you wouldn't say: "And by my count, there are two redskins."
I know there are surveys that say that most Native Americans aren't bothered by the word. But that's not the point. My objection is not rooted in pressure from various minorities or fear of public polls or public scolds.
Not because I took a poll of Roma to find out if they were offended. If some mysterious disease had carried away every gypsy on the planet, and there were none left to offend, I still wouldn't use it.
Let's recognize that that there are many people of good will for whom "Washington Redskins" contains sentimental and historical attachment - and not an ounce of intended animus. So let's turn down the temperature. What's at issue is not high principle but adaptation to a change in linguistic nuance. A close call, though I personally would err on the side of not using the word if others are available.
Choose whatever name you like. But let's go easy on the other side. We're not talking Brown v. Board of Education here.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for The Washington Post.
READER COMMENTS: 9
- Abuse in school: A city teacher and a late report - 2
- Computerized firearms: Holder's bad gun idea - 3
- Republican diversity: NH welcomes political ideas - 8
- Reams vs. Foster: A power grab struck down - 4
- City health costs: Wellness coordinator is no fix - 1
- R.I.P., Tom Brennan: A good manager and better man - 2
- The distractions: Turning you from Obamacare - 28
- Premium spike: Obamacare costs NH - 31
- Levasseur’s emails: Disclosed at last - 3
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Voices of gratitude, defiance at Boston bombing memorial - 0
- Deadline extended for startup competition in Rochester - 0
- Parents speak out against Jewett Street School proposal - 0
- Citizens Bank offers good citizen scholarships - 0
- Rochester man arrested following crash in Somersworth Monday night - 0
- A Derry man pleads innocent to falsely claiming a master electrician license - 0
- Stocks end higher as blue chips rally - 0
- NH jobless rate dips to 4.5 percent - 0
- Justice returns to North Country alma mater to speak to students - 0
Authorities detonate suspicious package left near Boston Marathon finish line on one-year anniversary of bombing
Flooding shuts down North Country highways
Rep. Shea-Porter honored for efforts to aid in health care by National Association of Community Health Centers