Source: USA TODAY
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denounced the team name of the Washington NFL club in The Hill on Thursday.
“We live in a society where you can’t denigrate a race of people,” Reid told the newspaper that reports on Congress. “And that’s what that is. I mean, you can’t have the Washington Blackskins. I think it’s so shortsighted.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama have previously criticized the name, and Reid makes it a clean sweep of top-ranking Democrats in Washington, the city that roots for that team.
“The Redskins respect Senator Reid, and he is, of course, entitled to his opinion,” the team said in a statement. “However, we strongly disagree based on what we are hearing from Native Americans and based on the generations of pride and heritage that our name represents.”
The Oneida Indian Nation, which runs a national Change the Mascot campaign, issued a response to the team response, saying it “clearly shows that the team remains committed to denigrating Native Americans and is not interested in truly listening to the concerns of those who are deeply hurt and offended by the racist R-word epithet.”
Obama told The Associated Press in October that if he owned the team, he’d think about changing the name. Team owner Daniel Snyder responded with an open letter and called the name a “badge of honor.” Pelosi told The Hill that month that changing it would “probably be a good idea.”
The team cited anecdotal evidence for its contention that American Indians like the name. Its statement said a man named Andy Block “wrote to say he lived and worked on the Shoshone-Paiute reservation” in Nevada and that the Washington team is “by far the favorite franchise of any sport” there. The statement said that Block said that he and others love the team, citing offices of hospital administrators there covered in team posters, calendars and gear.
“We agree with Andy Block,” the statement said, “and we are proud of the tradition, passion and heritage for which the Redskins name stands.”
The National Congress of American Indians, which bills itself as the nation’s oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization, has long opposed the team name. Last week, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition representing more than 200 organizations, including the NAACP, passed a resolution urging the team to change its name.
“The team should face reality, choose to do the right thing, and stop pretending that the dictionary-defined R-word slur somehow honors Native Americans,” said the statement from the Oneidas.
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