Few NFL-related issues have been as polarizing as the question of whether the Redskins should change their name.
OK, Tebow is that polarizing. As is pretty much any dispute between the league and the NFLPA. And whether public money should be used to build stadiums. And whether Joe Flacco is elite. And whether Eli Manning used to be not elite.
When it comes to pro football, plenty of topics push two competing views to sharp extremes. The debate regarding the Redskins’ name is simply the most recent.
On Sunday, Walter L. Williams (a frequent replacement host for Rush Limbaugh) published a column strongly opposing the push to alter the nickname by dusting off the old give-an-inch-take-a-mile argument. But Williams dubs the dynamic the “classic method of busybodies and tyrants.” (And now “busybodies and tyrants” has rocketed into the top five of my potential fantasy football team names this year.)
As many proponents of keeping the name have done, Williams attacks the possibility by extrapolating the movement to a ridiculous extreme, suggesting that the next target will be the use of specific tribal names and, ultimately, the names of animals.
It’s a common tactic for those who resist any type of change. If we allow change, they argue, where will change end?
And so for the same reason that some have said the legalization of same-sex marriage means people eventually will have the ability to marry animals, some are saying the banishment of the Redskins moniker will eventually destroy the ability to name teams after them.
But not everything is a slippery slope that will spit society into the bowels of hell. Those who make such arguments surely realize that. They just use a goofy concept to help rally the least common denominator into thinking that anyone who wants one thing to change has a secret agenda to radically change everything.
As applied to the Redskins name, the argument overlooks one important point. When stripped from the football team and regarded in isolation, it really is an offensive term.
Redskin. As in red skin. As in, “Hey, you have red skin. And even though you are a human being whom God created equal to the rest of us, I’m going to call you ‘redskin’ to remind you that you’re different, and also beneath the rest of us.”
We realize that it’s hard to separate the name from the team. But the oddball arguments being trotted out to defend something that, in all fairness, has become at this point in the development of our society indefensible will serve only to stir up and organize stronger opposition to the name.
In the end, then, maybe it’s a good thing that such clumsy, nonsensical arguments are being advanced to not change it. As more and more people believe their intelligence is being insulted by the sky-is-falling hysterics, more people will become motivated to push strongly against the name.