It’s been more than a year since Washington owner Daniel Snyder went all caps never when addressing the possibility of changing the team’s name, and more than six months since he wrote a letter to the team’s fans elaborating on his refusal to dump a term that has evolved into a dictionary-defined slur. On Monday, he addressed the issue again, via an interview conducted by a radio station he owns, via questions from one of its employees.
The Washington Post has the transcript. To summarize: (1) Snyder reiterates that the term connotes respect and pride, despite its current dictionary definition; (2) Snyder explains that he has visited with tribal membership and leaders in several states; (3) Snyder suggests that those expressing concern about the name are merely looking for Internet traffic; (4) Snyder laments that not enough is being done to address more important issues affecting Native Americans; and (5) Snyder insists that the effort to assist Native Americans has nothing to do with P.R.
The Change the Mascot campaign, led by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation, has responded to Snyder’s assertion that the media believes “it’s sort of fun to talk about the name of our football team, because it gets some attention for some of the people that write it, that need clicks, or what have you.”
“Washington team owner Dan Snyder’s comments are proof that he is living in a bigoted billionaire bubble,” the Change the Mascot campaign said in a statement released Monday night. “For him to claim that a racial slur is ‘fun’ is grotesque. For him to say that opposition to that slur is only from ‘people who need [Internet] clicks’ adds insult to injury, considering the fact that groups representing hundreds of thousands of people of color are calling on him to change his team’s name. There is nothing ‘fun’ about his desire to continue promoting, marketing and profiting from a term screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands. Mr. Snyder would know there’s nothing ‘fun’ about this had he not refused to meet with the scores of Native American groups who are urging him to change the mascot and stop mocking their culture.
“We are certainly glad to see that after decades of silence, Mr. Snyder suddenly has an interest in the plight of Native Americans. Some of the money he recently spent was for burgundy and gold parks adorned with the very mascot and epithet that Native Americans are imploring him to change. He doesn’t understand a simple fact: No matter how much of his fortune he spends trying to convince the world that slurring people of color is acceptable, it is not. The more he clings to this racist epithet, the more he walks in the footsteps of his predecessor the segregationist George Preston Marshall, who originally gave the team this hideous name. If Mr. Snyder truly wants to help Indian Country then he could provide financial support, while at the same time ending his callous use of this racist epithet that hurts Native Americans.”
Peter King has predicted that the name will change by 2016. It sure doesn’t sound as if Snyder is operating on that same timetable. Regardless, the opposition has become as entrenched as Snyder’s insistence on keeping the name, which means that the debate will remain for as long as the name does.