It’s Monday, which means that it’s time for the Washington Redskins to unveil the latest collection of unverified messages from Native Americans who made unsolicited expressions of support for owner Daniel Snyder’s October 2013 letter defending the team’s name.
And they have, with another seven of the more than 200 people who identified themselves as Native Americans or as family members of Native Americans.
But the team may want to start paying a little more attention to Sundays, not Mondays. As explained over the weekend by Carol Morello of the Washington Post, the governing body of the United Church of Christ congregations in the Mid-Atlantic has proposed a boycott of Redskins games and products until the team changes its name and mascot.
The group covers 180 congregations and 22,000 members, and the proposal could land on the agenda of the conference’s annual meeting in June.
“We respect those who disagree with our team’s name, but we wish the United Church of Christ would listen to the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Native Americans, who support our name and understand it honors the heritage and tradition of the Native American community,” team spokesman Tony Wyllie told the Post.
The team keeps calling the support “overwhelming,” but that’s hardly the case. In 1992, support was much closer to overwhelming, at 89 percent. Last April, an Associated Press poll showed that it had eroded to 79 percent.
More recently, it’s down to 71 percent.
That’s not overwhelming. And it’s continuously shrinking. Most recently, the issue has remained periodically in the news, at varying degrees of intensity, for more than a full year. Now that the team has joined the issue by actively and regularly defending the name, it will stay in the public eye.
Overall, the trend isn’t encouraging. At some point, the support will move toward 50-50. Then, those who believe the name is appropriate will be in the minority.
As conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer explained it last year, it’s part of the evolution of language. Words that were once acceptable become, over time, inappropriate. At some point, the consensus will be so clear that the name can’t continue that the name will change.
While that may not happen during Snyder’s tenure as owner, it eventually will. Even if Snyder sticks to his “all caps never” vow, his team’s decision to consistently make the case for keeping the name guarantees that the issue will continue to hover over the franchise until the name inevitably changes.