As further proof that the controversy regarding the Redskins name is going nowhere any time soon, the team reportedly has hired a consultant who’ll hold a focus group to address the topic.
According to ThinkProgress.org, Republican strategist Frank Luntz (who has shown up on the CBS pregame show to analyze the reaction to statements from coaches and players) will conduct on Thursday a session aimed at, well, we’re not quite sure what it will be aimed at.
The headline of the ThinkProgress.org article suggests the goal will be to determine whether the team should change its name. But owner Daniel Snyder already has provided a definitive answer: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
It’s more likely, then, that Luntz will be picking brains in the hopes of crafting a better defense to the ongoing use of the objectively objectionable term. Recent efforts have consisted of pointing out every high school team that still employs the same name or relying blindly on the notion that no one saw any problem with the name when it was adopted in the years before, you know, World War II.
The team’s effort to prop up that which many deem to be un-prop-up-able has been flimsy at best. If they’re truly never going to change the name, they need to come up with a strategy that beats back a loosely organized and sporadic opposition, without drawing the kind of battle lines that will cause the attack on the name to coalesce and grow.
It won’t be easy. Luntz presumably has a bunch of ideas that he’ll be trotting out on Thursday, gauging reaction to messaging like “We Are Redskins” or “Redskins Doesn’t Really Mean Red Skin” or “First They’ll Change Our Name Then They’ll Come After Our Guns” or (as Drew Magary suggested on Twitter today) “Some of My Best Friends are Redskins.”
At some point in the not-too-distant future, look for the Redskins to launch a new strategy based on whatever Luntz learns by bouncing a wide variety of ideas off a cross-section of society. It may not bring the controversy to an end, but it could help prevent a slowly percolating movement against the name from gaining too much steam.