A Plea To Ditka, Others In ‘Redskins’ Debate: Stop Being Ignorant

By Adam Hoge-

What do Mike Ditka and the name “Redskins” have in common?

It’s time for both to go away. Now.

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Mike Ditka. (Jose More, Chicago Tribune)

Ditka may have won a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, but as he has proven time and time again, that doesn’t make him qualified to speak on certain topics.

In a recent interview with RedskinsHistorian.com, Da Coach gave us another prime example. Via the Washington Post:

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is.

“Its been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up. This was the name, period. Leave it alone. These people are silly — asinine, actually, in my opinion.”

Speaking of asinine:

“It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is,” Ditka said. “It’s got nothing to do with anything else. We’re going to change something because we can. Hey listen, I went through it in the 60s, too. I mean, come on. Everybody lined up, did this. It’s fine to protest. That’s your right, if you don’t like it, protest. You have a right to do that, but to change the name, that’s ridiculous. Change the Constitution — we’ve got people trying to do that, too, and they’re doing a pretty good job.”

There’s way too much nonsense in here, so we’re going to have to break this thing down. Let’s go back to the top:

“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name?” Ditka said. “It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world.”

Ah, the crazy liberals are at it again. These days, blaming the liberals has become the standard crutch when someone really has no argument. I’ve never considered myself a liberal or a conservative. In fact, I hate politics all together. But if hating racism makes me a liberal, then by all means, call me a liberal.

“It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian.”

No it wasn’t. This lie has to stop.

The old story is that original owner George Preston Marshall changed the name from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins to honor the team’s head coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz, who claimed that he was a Native American. At the time, the team also had several Native American players.

And it is this story that has led to several prominent figures in the discussion — including current Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — to repeatedly say that the name “Redskins” was and is a name intended to honor Native Americans.

The problem is, that story isn’t true. And who debunked it? George Preston Marshall himself.

In a 1933 Associated Press story that was printed in the Hartford Courant, Marshall is quoted as saying: “The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins.”

No, like most team name changes, the reason was money. Having the same name as one of the two baseball teams in the same city — also the Boston Braves — proved to be a disaster. To make money, the name had to be changed. So Marshall moved the team to Fenway Park where the Red Sox played and named the team the “Redskins”.

It gets worse. While Snyder is busy referencing Dietz in letters to season ticket-holders and Goodell is dropping Dietz’s name in letters to Congress, it turns out that Dietz wasn’t even a Native American.

Oops.

Back to Ditka:

Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Brownskin?

No, Mike. Because that’s racist too. Just like the original Redskins’ owner was. In fact, George Preston Marshall was so racist that in 1961, Stewart Udall, President John F. Kennedy’s secretary of the interior, had to threaten Marshall just to get the owner to sign African American players. According to the Washington Post, Udall sent a memo to Kennedy saying “if Marshall continued his ban on blacks, he would be denied the use of D.C. [later RFK] Stadium.”

“It’s been the name of the team since the beginning of football. It has nothing to do with something that happened lately, or something that somebody dreamed up.”

Another popular crutch. WHY WASN’T THIS AN ISSUE 81 YEARS AGO? Well, Mike, because 81 years ago it was socially acceptable for racist team owners to use racial slurs to name their teams. That fact that “it has nothing to do with something that happened lately” is exactly the point. People evolve. Cultures evolve. In America, we can admit our mistakes and change for the better. That’s what is happening, lately.

“It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is,” Ditka said. “It’s got nothing to do with anything else. We’re going to change something because we can. Hey listen, I went through it in the 60s, too. I mean, come on. Everybody lined up, did this.”

I’m not sure why, but I’m going to give Ditka the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he isn’t insinuating that those who led the Civil Rights Movement were “politically correct idiots”. But I am going to give Mike some advice here: If you’re trying to shoot down a movement, don’t compare it to one of the most successful and important movements the United States of America has ever seen. Especially when they both are on the subject of racism.

You know what the Civil Rights Movement was? Progress. Significant progress. Did it solve everything? No. But it was progress.

So I am going to plead to Mike Ditka, Daniel Snyder, Roger Goodell and everyone else who pleads ignorance on this subject: Please, wake up. The nickname “Redskins” is a racial slur. Eliminating its use might not solve the plight of Native Americans in this country, but that doesn’t mean that eliminating a racial slur from America’s most popular sporting league isn’t worth our time. Because it is.

It’s progress.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for 87.7 The Game and TheGameChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

5 comments

  • rfgatwordpress

    There are Indian reservations with schools that use Redskins as their Mascot. So Im not really buying the whole Washington has to drop the name! To me, we live in a democratic society and apparently a significant part of the US population voted for Obama. I didnt want him, and Id be willing to say that most that did vote for him dont want him now, but i digress! A supposed "majority" wanted him, dead voters or not, and I have to put up with it! I would be willing to say that most people either dont care or are not offended by the REDSKINS name, thats A MAJORITY! Right now now I feel like its a DEMOCRAT thing, because they get what they vote for, and when they dont get what they vote for, they kick and scream like little bitches, that its "in the best interest of EVERYBODY if we do this!" I HATE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, and I hate the fact that people get shattered by being called a NAME. Are you really THAT WEAK? Im also bothered out of my mind about the fact that this "government" has tanked this economy and has a lot on its plate, but theyre gonna take the time and spend everyones tax dollars, AGAIN…. OF THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE, and puruse this. Lets just say they win and the REDSKIN name gets removed? Are we all sleeping better at night because they changed a name? Is the deficit that our children going to be handed 2nd fiddle to the name REDSKINS! Are the businesses and the people of this country that were force fed Health insurance, THATS GOING MISERABLY, gonna magically heal itself? Is the border going to seal itself, because it no longer has to hear the word REDSKIN!? Is that why ISIS is so mad and beheading some of our people, because they are sticking up for the REDSKINS! I am offended by many things, but last time I looked its the USA and people have to deal with some shit! So sorry! Tell the millions of kids that are running around homeless and hungry how pissed off you are about the name REDSKINS! Shit, I would put finding homes for dogs and cats WAY HEAD AND SHOULDERS above the WORD REDSKINS! Education isnt a problem in this country? Dont we suck at Math and Science? Why dont we get mad about something that is gonna change the world! REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS REDSKINS! REEEEEEEEEEDDSKIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINS!

  • Redskin Honor

    I've asked a few full blooded native americans and the ones I know all think this is inoffensive and is of no concern to them. Their opinions matter, the opinions of lilly white liberals who are upset that they were born to late to join the civil rights movement but need a righteous cause all the same or of absolutely no concern to me.

    The fact that a few predominantly native american schools use the Redskin name should be a sign. It's a term of honor and respect. We always name sports teams after things we would like to emulate. How dense can these idiots get????

    Da Redskins!!!!!!!!!

  • JustDave

    Adam got most of it right (crazed caps man not withstanding). But there is one word that seems to get left out of the discussion. The word is genocide. We (whiteskins, mostly of European descent) successfully practiced genocide against native americans. We slaughtered their men, women, and children, stole their land, and destroyed their culture. So, yea, if your ancestors were the victims of genocide, you are allowed to be a bit sensitive about names that "honor" that genocide. I was as excited as anyone in 1985, but in the ensuing years I've come to suspect that Ditka is a bit of a moron. With his latest tirade my suspicions have been confirmed. I will now go out of my way to avoid any shows or commentary featuring Ditka. Note to Mike – If you are a rich, privileged, ignorant, white guy, you shouldn't really get a vote, because you don't get it. (or maybe we could have a team called the Sacramento Slaves, to honor all the slaves who put up with being kidnapped, raped, tortured, etc.)

    • Interested Observer

      And you personally know native americans that are absolutely horrified by the use of this term right??

Comments are closed.


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