Arizona Senator John McCain didn’t lend his John Hancock to the 50-Senator letter to the NFL urging a change of the name of the Washington franchise. But McCain, a Republican, believes that a change of the name is “probably” in order.
McCain reiterated on Thursday views he previously expressed on The Dan Patrick Show. Speaking at the Associated Press Sports Editors conference, McCain said that enough Native Americans regard the name as offensive to justify a meaningful dialogue and, ultimately, a name change.
“We have many local tribes in my state of Arizona, and they come to me and tell me its offensive,” McCain said, via USA Today. “So if its offensive, then why don’t we take that into consideration? One of the most darkest chapters in American history is our relations with the Native Americans. When an advanced civilization collides with a less advanced one, really terrible things happen. And it’s probably the worst chapter in American history, as we went west and became the nation that we are, we really did some terrible things. And many of our Native Americans are very sensitive because of our history.
“So my view, if I were the owner of the team, I’d call them together and have a dialogue with them and I would probably change the name.”
McCain nevertheless doesn’t endorse the recent stripping of the name’s trademark protection by the federal government.
“I kind of thought the patent office was supposed to be involved in patents,” McCain said of the office known as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “But I do believe if the Native American community views this as offensive, then it’s offensive.”
Some supporters of the name will argue that most or all Native Americans must be offended before the name can be regarded as offensive. Of course, if that were the case, the defense of the name would likely shift to another crutch that overlooks two basic realities: (1) the word is clearly offensive when disconnected from a sports team; and (2) there’s no way an expansion franchise in the NFL or any other pro sport could adopt that name today.