Why Dan Snyder will eventually knuckle under
So, there's this football team called 'The Redskins.'
While self-proclaimed guardians of demonym sensitivity stack the deck with race cards, Dan Snyder has gone the Lyndon Johnson route, proclaiming himself champion of the silent majority who are just fine, thank you very much, with having a football team called the "Redskins". According to Snyder's authoritative sources, 90% of Native Americans are unoffended by the name, and 79% of the at-large population do not want it changed.
Crisis resolved. Data incontrovertible. Case closed.... right?
Snyder's naivety can be forgiven, dwelling as he does on the rustic, politically unsophisticated shores of the Potomac. So wisdom I will provide: The balance of power most often lies with the vocal minority. Mao's communist followers comprised less than 1% of the Chinese population, and were outnumbered 3-to-1 by the Nationalists; the Bolshevik Red Guards included a mere 200,000 untrained fighting men; and a paltry 130 carried out the Boston Tea Party. These dedicated minorities spark excitement. They offer people something to do on the weekends, an opportunity which the passive majority cannot match. Next to active fanaticism, whatever power lies in numbers is peanuts. More on peanuts later.
Fortunately, The Cause du jour shows no signs of becoming violent at this time. The laws of activism nonetheless apply. The rallying cry of "don't bother changing" is no cry whatsoever, and makes for a damned boring rally. Champions of the status quo cannot take the initiative, but can only bide their time and respond to the revolutionaries. Thus they are-- and more importantly, appear to be-- eternally on the defensive. Meanwhile, the most integral journalist facing a publishing deadline will inevitably succumb to temptation and spew out a highly marketable reprimand of Redskin nomenclature. Nor is the critical vocation limited to sports writers. The custodian of a tired blog, the president of a dispassionate campus group, the unregarded fellow at a party who thinks chicks dig political correctness-- each will eventually dip his feed bag into the trough of pretentious moral outrage. More criticism is coming. Is their position stronger? No. Easier... more seductive.
There is a shocking underlying truth to your polls, Mr. Snyder. Most will never know it. It will be revealed in time, but only the most sagacious observors of human psychology will recognize it even then. Yet I will reveal this truth to you now:
Some 10-20% of the people are genuinely offended and desire a name change. An equal number are passionate about retaining the name in the face of all opposition. In both cases, their motives are neither logical nor of the least importance.
The remaining 70% or so don't actually give a rat's ass one way or another, but they will eventually decide that it's a lot more fun to make you change the name than leave things be. Regardless of validity, it feels good to be morally superior. It feels even better to push around somebody who's rich and famous.
Ultimately, you will lose. Don't blame me. I'm just the messenger.
How Dan Snyder should knuckle under
Predicting a massive shift in the bedrock of public opinion is like predicting an earthquake. By which I mean, an accurate gauge of the timing will spare the prognosticator from major damage. I do not mean to say that public opinion is as easy to predict as tectonic plate activity. It is much, much easier.
So, Mr. Snyder, watch for the following pattern: First, it will get worse. Then it will get much worse. Then it will get much, much worse.
Got it? Hire someone to memorize that sequence and keep tabs if you have to.
The time to make your move is a few months before the body politic would force it, so that you enjoy both widespread support and the illusion of acting under your own volition. For the purpose of this drama you, Mr. Snyder, will play a cautious elder statesman called the Conservative Judge. Robert Griffin III is cast as the Conscientious Youth, a man of unsurpassed compassion, but one who is reluctant to put himself forward. This Conscientious Youth holds sympathy for both sides, but in the drama's final act he is moved to action by the degradation of indigenous people. He calls a meeting with the Conservative Judge to speak on their behalf.
Wait, what? RG3 doesn't hold that opinion? Christ, it's like I'm talking to a brick wall. Opinions and facts are no longer relevant. This is about marketing a solution. Good marketing can sell horse shit by adding toothpicks and feathers.
Now pay attention: The Conscientious Youth meets privately with the Conservative Judge and, together, they see the Light: The name was neither created nor used to derogate indigenous American people. But... other, unspecified someones have used "redskin" as a racial slur, inducing an offensiveness metamorphosis.
Griffin is hailed as a hero for showing integrity and leadership beyond his years. Snyder garners praise for open-mindedness. Season ticket holders, jersey sales, and team control of stadium signs all go through the roof. Win-win-win!
The final question, then: How to effect the change? Two answers, because I'm feeling generous:
Solution #1: Keep the name, change the logo
While changing the team name may seem the obvious solution, it introduces a severe complication: Washington uses "redskins.com" for their team's home page. The URL will be recorded in browser auto-complete databases, individual bookmarks, and countless cross-connecting links (a google search of "redskins.com" returns 41 million hits; so technically it's not "countless", but still a lot).
As the URL follows the team name, any alteration will cause a massive structural upheaval in cyberspace. And the Internet is no place for dynamic change!
What's more, there must be hundreds of thousands of fans who own, and as many as a dozen who wear, official team merchandise bearing the name "Redskins" sans logo. This portion of the infrastructure can be preserved.
It seems impossible that I am the first to suggest it, but the obvious new logo would be one of the following:
As to which can of peanuts becomes the new official mascot, I say let the peanut makers' checkbooks decide. The money, Dan. Think of the money!
The ethnic dilemma is solved in one fell swoop, as the nane no longer describes human beings. Still, the existing logo is pretty badass, and it seems a shame to relegate it to the dustbin of history. Again, I offer a solution, free of charge: Donate it to the Cleveland Indians.
Seriously, look at that thing every day for a week, and you will never again in good conscience refer to anything else in the universe as "dorky".
Some folks[who?] might say that the idea of a peanut mascot is silly. To which I say: Back when the first pair of Precambrian eukaryotes decided to reproduce by sharing DNA, everyone called them silly. Yet today sex is everywhere and people think it's just grand.
Solution #2: Keep the logo, change the name
According to the laziest web search possible, some existing suggestions for a new name include Warriors, Braves, Warthogs, and Redhogs.
Point #1: I am astonished by the inflated sense of self importance which impels the yapping hordes of the Internet to offer Dan Snyder unsolicited advice.
Point #2: Of course I don't include myself. There are many of you and only one of me, ergo I am not a "horde". Q.E.D.
Point #3: The existing logo is pretty badass. Citation above ("the existing logo is pretty badass").
Point #4: URL. Pronounced "earl" (like the noble title, not a man's name) (actually, either one). What the deuce are the "Washington Braves" going to use for a home page address? Is Atlanta's baseball team going to let them move in and transmit bytes from the spare bedroom? And the URL's of more obvious names (anything + "hogs") which are not currently in use are doubtless occupied by domain name squatters. I can only imagine the outrageous transfer fees these greedy opportunists will demand, and simultaneously regret that I am not among them.
Assuming the dignified gentleman on the "Redskins" helmet is an indigenous American, the elegant solution is to use a politically and anthropologically correct name for an indigenous American culture group, videlicet, a tribal name. Some examples:
Chikahominy, Chisca, Manahoac, Mattaponi, Meherrin, Monaca, Monetons, Nahyssan, Nansemond, Nottaway, Occaneechi, Pamunkey, Patuxent, Rappahannock, Saponi, Shoccoree, Stegarake, Stuckanox, Tuscarora, Tutelo, Westo, Shawnee, Tauxenent, Wicocomico
And that's just a list of those who lived near the modern-day District of Columbia. Which I got from Wikipedia. Which is also free. You're raking it in today, aren't you, Mr. Snyder?
With so many choices, securing the appropriate URL will be a cybercakewalk. The change would recognize that pre-Columbian Americans included a wide variety of cultures and nations, not a single "Native American" collective. At the very least, 99+% of indigenous descendants would have no more cause to be offended than a person of German ancestry would by the mascot "Fighting Irish". It's so flippin' sensible I almost feel guilty about suggesting it.
Before you convene the committee to put this in action, I have a final piece of advice: It is unnecessary to promote the new name as a profound recognition/celebration of tribal history and culture. In fact, it's a bad idea, because it does so badly. Specifically, you would do so badly. If anyone asks, you picked the name because it sounds cool and because the logo looks cool. It's a sports mascot. The Ravens don't quote Edgar Allen Poe during pregame warmups, and the Bucanneers aren't celebrating piracy. Play it down to the standard.
Postultimately: There is a meme among Redskins fans to express team support by saying/typing/signing off with "Hail to the Redskins", which they abbreviate as "HTTR!" Ergo my personal preference for a tribal name would 'Pamunkey" or 'Patuxent'. Because... well, you do the math.