updated 5/28 re: Native Americans: As I said earlier….
Slate’s Dave Weigel wrote today that If you managed to avoid the Internet last night, you missed a crash course in hashtag activism.” Yes, I did. I had better things to do, like declaring a news-free night and nostalgically leafing through some of my food porn cookbook collection. (We’ll talk about that another time.)
But today I’ve got nothing better to do than to vent my spleen on trivia. (Well, actually, that’s not true. I have a stack of things-to-do that are carefully leaned up against each other in dynamic isometric nonmovement. If I moved one, another would demand attention…then another…and another…and eventually the whole stack would vanish – poof! – and then I would have to wander aimlessly, searching for purpose and meaning, or finally start binge-watching The Newsroom. –Wait! I can put that on the to-do stack. The pressure’s back on; I feel better already.)
So, what’d I miss? Something something Washington Redskins name offensive; something something foundation Native Americans; something Colbert parody; Suzy somebody-or-other gets offended, gets her #HASHTAG up, gets either interviewed or ignored (start at 32:00) then gets really offended; something something #MOREHASHTAG #takingittothetwitterstreets; people getting all #tweetdefensive with their mile-wide and inch-deep #USELESSHASHTAGOUTRAGE and racist/sexist hate, rape, and death threats; and…um…what were we tweeting about again?
Nice trick, twitterpeeps (twitterperps!), turning the attention away from the team name controversy and making it all about DISSING WOMEN AND ASIANS. Which it wasn’t (but now is), and it also wasn’t about Colbert (and more-or-less still isn’t), but manufactured outrage equals publicity equals clicks equals ad revenue.
Let’s focus some energy on what’s really important: addressing racist and sexist attitudes. But first, let’s look at the team name issue. Yes, that’s right, I don’t think that’s what’s really important, because it’s easily solvable, and the change is inevitable.
As always, people are misusing polls and statistics to bolster their argument. According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, almost 80% of respondents didn’t think the team should change its name. Well, then, there ya go, right? The people have spoken! Not so fast. The right question to ask is: what percentage of Native Americans find the name racially offensive? It is not up to all of America to decide whether or not a name and characterization is seriously offensive and discriminatory to a particular group of people.
It is troubling that owner Dan Snyder, a person who made his fortune in marketing and product positioning, can’t figure out how to position his organization better.
So here, let me help: call them the Minutemen. It’s patriotic, a nod to our nation’s history, and uncontroversial. But, the name itself is not the problem to the team’s owners. It’s all about the costs and contracts associated with changing the name: the uniforms, the helmets, the stadium lettering, the promotional materials, the business cards, the logo on Snyder’s personal basketball court….
Setting aside the renovation of a vanity basketball court, the cost to change branding has been estimated at $10-$20 million. It has been done before. The team is worth $1.7 billion and is #3 on Forbes list of NFL teams; I think they could afford it. Any costs would simply be charged off as a write-down of a one-time expense. Your tax code at work.
Now, moving on to what’s important, part 1: the shoddy, disrespectful “interviewing” on the part of Josh Zepps that unnecessarily inflamed the issue in the service of generating clickbait for @HuffPostLive. I was prepared to find Suey Park’s comments somewhat whiny. Instead I was surprised (yes, I was) to find a mansplainer who doesn’t have the interviewing skills to be on a local cable access program. It’s hard to believe that he’s actually won awards for his satirical commentary, but maybe that’s the point: he’s not an interviewer or a journalist, just a snarky entertainer without depth or knowledge, and clearly not the right person to have handled that story.
What’s important, part 2: the immediate conflagration of racist and sexist rape and death threats toward a woman who voiced an opinion. You don’t have to agree with what she said, but that level of shut-you-down response shouldn’t be tolerated. If white men routinely received rape and death threats for voicing their opinions, you can be sure those threats wouldn’t be considered free speech, and stand-your-twitterground laws against it would swiftly be enacted.
Now those are issues worth venting your spleen on.
According to an Associated Press-GfK poll, almost 80% of respondents didn’t think the team should change its name. Well, then, there ya go, right? The people have spoken! Not so fast. The right question to ask is: what percentage of Native Americans find the name racially offensive? It is not up to all of America to decide whether or not a name and characterization is seriously offensive and discriminatory to a particular group of people.
What percentage find it offensive? Apparently enough so that representative organizations are calling for action. The Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians, which are leading the Change the Mascot campaign, are sending a letter Wednesday asking every player in the National Football league to take a stance against the Redskins name.