Eleven-time National Sportswriter of the Year Rick Reilly jumped headfirst into a long-standing racial debate with a column he published Wednesday evening.
The article serves as a defense of the name of NFL team the Washington Redskins, which has been in contention for years. The first protest of the name came in the 1960s, and it continues today. (Via Washington Redskins)
Reilly quotes one of his in-laws who is Native American who isn’t upset by the name. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue.” (Via ESPN)
He also cites several schools that have “Redskins” as a mascot and have a majority Native American population.
Recently, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the issue, saying: “We have to listen. … If one person is offended, we have to listen.” (Via CBS)
Reilly used Goodell’s statement in his argument as well, writing: “One person? I know an atheist who is offended by religious names like the New Orleans Saints. … There are people who think Wizards promotes paganism. Shall we listen to all of them?” (Via YouTube / SportsSpectrumMag)
But the real gem of the article was saved for the end, an analogy that for many just went a little too far.
“For the majority of Native Americans who don’t care, we’ll care for them. … Trust us. We know what’s best. We’ll take this away for your own good, and put up barriers that protect you from ever being harmed again. Kind of like a reservation.”
And responses to that little paragraph have been swift.
“Like a poop in the pool, I think I’m just going to let that sit there and speak for itself.” (Via The Nation)
“The railroading of Native Americans into reservations … is one of our nation’s biggest embarrassments. Reilly uses it as a (expletive) punch line.” (Via Kissing Suzy Kolber)
“Haha! Because we stole their land and moved them across a continent. Good one, Rick.” (Via Twitter / @stefenjbecket)
Despite the vehement disapproval by Reilly’s colleagues, Americans across the country, according to one poll, don’t feel so strongly.
“This spring, an Associated Press poll of more than 1,000 people found 79 percent of Americans favor keeping the name Redskins.” (Via ESPN)
But critics argue you can’t ask the offender what offends the offended, so the debate continues.