A linguist on why "Redskins" was always a slur


There is an all Indian school in Mesa Arizona and they call their selves the Redskins. Their School news letter is called the Redskins news. This article is total BS and written without proper research. If in fact the name Redskins is derogatory why then would an all Indian School name themselves The Redskins?

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What a wonderfully pure example of this classic racism apology: nominating only the members of the group who agree with you as representatives of the whole.


Maybe they are taking ownership of the slur?

…have another look at the world, my, my

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Growing up as a kid in the DC suburbs, we actually sang “Hail to the Redskins” in music class in elementary school. (Remember when kids had music class?) And yes, I clearly remember that line: “Scalp ‘um, swamp ‘um, we will take’um big score… (Something something) heap more!”

Anybody who pretends this is about honoring the heritage of Native Americans is doing nothing but denying very real, very obvious racism. There was a time when I thought it was much ado about nothing, but recalling those lyrics is all the indictment I need.

EDIT: I still think renaming the Bullets was a stupid move. Maybe they can kill two birds, by giving that name to the NFL team?


Probably most of them would not agree with him. It’s pretty much the same argument as a white guy whining that “black rappers say ‘nigger’ all the time, why can’t I?”


As I said recently in a completely different context: If someone tells you a word you are using is offensive, and you are inclined to defend your choice of word, you have to stop and be suspicious of your motives.



I always wonder why people complain about not being ‘allowed’ to use certain words. Why do they want to use them?


Original fight song lyrics, courtesy of The Wiki-something-or-other:

Hail to the Redskins!
Hail, victory!
Braves on the warpath!
Fight for Old D.C.!
Scalp 'em, swamp 'um
We will take 'um big score
Read 'um, Weep 'um, touchdown
We want heap more
Fight on, fight on, till you have won
Sons of Washington
Rah! Rah! Rah!


The kindest possible explanation is that they’re simply lazy, self-centered whiners. And for many, that’s probably true.

But that’s the kindest explanation.


Well, to be fair, my toddler gets angry at me for not allowing them to do certain things all the time. Toddlers are certainly self-centered and my observation is they do whine, but I don’t know if I’d accuse them of being lazy.


Nah, that comes later.


From the article:

Indians themselves sometimes use the word in team names as a reclaimed epithet, but that dispensation doesn’t extend to whites, no more than the appearance of the N-word in hip hop lyrics gives whites permission to use it

Maybe in the future you should try reading something before complaining that it isn’t properly researched.


Well, I think “lazy” is marginally kinder than “childish” when talking about adults, but I’ll admit that it’s a personal distinction.

Yeah, that’s clearly all about the respect, ain’t it?

There’s also a national philanthropic organization (founded in 1944) called “The United Negro College Fund.” That doesn’t mean I should keep calling brown-skinned people “negroes” if a sizable portion of them take offense, nor that we should defend a choice to name a mostly-white baseball team “The Washington Negroes.”


A while ago I was told we were having “Indian Tacos” for sunday dinner. And in all innocence I had to ask “Asian, or North American?”… And it suddenly struck me that the word “indian” is so hugely lazy- people using it can’t be bothered to distinguish between brown people on opposite sides of the world.

Though I suppose if you are uncomfortable thinking about homegrown genocide, patriotic genocide, founding a proud nation on the extinction of hundreds of other less proud nations… calling them all “indian” serves to gloss over that war crime.


"But, but, I have /Insert name of minority under discussion here/ friends! I can’t be racist!!!

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It’s my go-to cut-and-paste response to (when discussion the American football team) idiotic statements like “The R*dskins name has always been about respecting Native Americans.”