Feds Ramp Up “War Against the Redskins”

In his novel 1984, George Orwell noted that a government’s ultimate weapon is to control the truth.  Once you can do that, all power follows.

That brings us to today’s 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office that trademarks registered by the Washington Redskins dating back to 1967 are no longer valid because the term is “disparaging” to indigenous tribes.  The ruling reversed a decade-old precedent that any trademark challenge was, at a minimum, untimely as the team had relied on the famous brand for years.

(Apparently today’s patent judges understand the year 1967 much better than the PTO judges at that time).

Of course, the decision will be appealed and likely reversed as the petitioners presented no actual new evidence to overturn the 2003 opinion.  However, while it’s with us, it’s  interesting to note the political cross-currents.   As with so many recent opinions in the twilight of the Obama era, this one reeked of political correctness, i.e. the Orwellian principal that all viewpoints matter but some matter more than others.

The fact that Redskins football jersey was the most popular NFL jersey in 2012-2013?  Doesn’t matter.

The fact the team has sold every regular season ticket since 1966?   Doesn’t matter.

The fact that the team’s television ratings surpass all the other D.C. sports franchises combined?  Doesn’t matter.

The fact that consumers have the choice to not attend games?  Doesn’t matter.

All that matters is achieving the result which validates the grievance.  Is someone offended by your brand name or logo?  Then change it.  (Braves and Indians, you’re coming next).  Did you spend eighty years building that brand into one of the most recognized in the world?  Tough luck.  Some dweeb at the PTO can revoke it at will.

(ed. note:  Ironically, the most disparaging sports names — “Yankees,” “Fighting Irish,” “Canucks” — continue on undisturbed.  Because insulting a group without a historic grievance is considered no insult at all).

As in all cases involving political correctness, those of us on the “wrong side” of the War Against the Redskins (“the WAR”) are constantly told our defeat is inevitable.  We are now facing the righteous might of the Federal government, as well as every reputable journalist and media source in America, which has attached itself to the cause du jour.

In the face of the WAR, does anyone have the back of a few thousand loyal Redskins fans who never did anything wrong, except to love a football franchise that united this town in way nobody did before?  Anybody?

I will say that I reached out in February to my U.S. Senators on the subject of the WAR.  In doing so, I specifically asked them whether the Redskins name was the proper subject of Federal  intervention.  After the usual qualifying, I got an actual answer:  no.

Of course, they are free to speak up against today’s unfair, inconsistent and abusive use of Federal power by the PTO.  But that would take courage.

And in the WAR, that trait is missing in action.

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  • Lisa

    By way of background, I am in your district and have voted for you in the past. You used to come door to door in our neighborhood before elections, although not recently. I am disappointed in your opinion on this matter. You missed the point completely. This has nothing to do with political correctness or ratings or popular jerseys or love of the team or VA business dollars. It about decency and respect. This would be comparable to having an NFL team called the N word and saying to me “What – I love Black people; this name is to honor you” or a team called “fill in the blank Korean slur” and then saying to your wife “This slur is my way of showing you how much I love you.” You are a smart man, come on. This is a deal breaker at election time.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with Lisa. Like Lisa, I’m in your district and you’ve rung my doorbell a few times. I’ve voted for you for delegate, Lt. Governor and state senator. Heck I even donated to your Lt. Governor campaign.

    I’ve been a fan of the Washington, DC NFL franchise going back to the glory days of Sonny Jurgensen and their sad defeat at the hands of the Dolphins back in 1974. I’ve come around to the notion that we need to practice RESPECT. The deadskins stink right now and will continue to be cursed until they fix this historic wrong. They were the last team to integrate and now they are a hold out on the issue of offensive team mascots. If you can’t tell the difference between the term “Fighting Irish” and the R word, I gotta shake my head in disappointment, I thought you were better than the neanderthals hanging onto racist old ways.

    • Chris

      The REDSKINS may have been the last to “integrate”, but they were the first to prove that a black quarter back can lead a team to a Super bowl.

    • defender of the b and g

      Drunk Irish fighting or proud Natives who know not defeat? hmm, don’t rewrite history, learn it. “The Great Spirit made my skin red, and he made us to live as we do now; and I believe that

      when the Great Spirit placed us on this earth he consulted our happiness. We love our country—


      • Anonymous

        Fighting Irish does not infer Drunkenness, instead it’s about the fighting spirit of the team mostly comprised of Irish Americans back in the day as observed by 1920s sports writers. As an alum of VA Tech I can tell you that the Hokies are also known as the Fighting Gobblers (hence the Turkey mascot!) and that does not refer to drunken turkeys either.

        • Peggy

          Have you seen the Fighting Irish logo? Obviously you havent. Have you ever heard of the discrimination suffered by the Irish in this country? Do the words “no Irish” need apply ring a bell? Dont be a hypocrite and try to argue that Redskins is somehow different.

          • Anonymous

            Get off your high horse, I am of Irish heritage and family members have graduated from Notre Dame. Offensive would have been a Paddy Wagon logo….

  • Barbara B.

    Although I grew up in South Carolina, I’ve spent 40 years in Virginia–32 of which in Northern Virginia including 14 in Fairfax City. And I’ve voted for you. HOWEVER, you are taking an antediluvian stance. Growing up, I heard all the rationales for retaining prejudice and unfairness and demeaning attitudes toward “the others.” The fact that “it has always been this way” is not a valid argument. Have you spoken with any Native Americans? Are you afraid of how many will vote against you regardless of your stance? Demonstrate a profile of courage, and be on the side of what’s right for the maligned people.

  • Guest

    Comparing “Canucks” or “Yankees” to “Redskins” means that you’re completely clueless about what is and isn’t offensive to an entire ethnic group, which I suppose speaks legions about good ole boys like you. I’ve voted for you before, but I regret it. Never again.

  • Offended Native American

    As an attorney, you should have a better understanding of what is actually happening here (and forgive me if I get a little queasy when a white man starts to complain about “political correctness”). Did you read the PTO opinion? Anyone is free to bring a similar claim challenging any of the other team names you mentioned. Then our system of enforcing laws would spring into action, just as it has here. This challenge has been going on for years, and it was not brought by the PC Police, or “the Feds,” it was brought by actual Native Americans (like myself). We are offended because the name is a racial slur. Yes, it was openly used on 1967, like many racial slurs were back then. Should we bring them all back? Or just the ones you’re fond of? Or is it only ok because we are such a small minority group? Careful, your white grandchildren will be minorities! If you read the opinion, you’ll see examples of how this term was used, as in newspapers calling for the scalps of my ancestors (men, women, and children – and we’re the savages?!). Perhaps you should put down you Civil War book and brush up on a little more US history. And let’s be honest, there’s nothing respectful about drunk white people wearing war paint and ceremonial headdresses and chanting. But heaven forbid you let a little ugly history interfere with your football watching. Your fandom is clearly more important than our pain. Carry on, Chap.

    • defender of the b and g

      Big Elk, 4 February 1822
      Speech by Big Elk to President James Monroe in the White House, as printed in the Daily
      National Intelligencer (Washington, 16 February 1822). Translated from Omaha into English by
      William Rodgers.
      “My Great Father:
      “Look at me—look at me, my father, my hands are unstained with your blood—my people
      have never struck the whites, and the whites have never struck them. It is not the case with other
      red skins.

      • Anonymous

        Words evolve over time, Gay Paris has quite a different connotation now than it did in the 1920s. If you were a historian you’d know that. Your cite is from 1822. When you can conjure up a present day positive reference to the word in question that was not bought and paid for with Dan Synder’s $$$, I’ll listen.

        • Peggy

          Not when the proper use of the word continues to be used. By your “logic” that the word evolved due to some abuse over time, then the same can be said of the word cracker. Going in the opposite direction then positive use of the n word by some black folks should evolve into a good word, right? The fact is that redskins was well established as a nuetral term before it ever suffered abuse. In the meantime people esp many Natives have continued to understand it in its original sense up until today. The Redskins also use it in the original sense and if anything they have evolved it into the name of a football team in this modern era.

          • Anonymous

            When you have a CURRENT poll of native Americans to get their feeling on the matter, you might have an argument to make. Don’t hang your hat on the one hoary old poll on the subject that is years old. When a substantial group of people feel a name insults their heritage, I’m inclined to not be a d*ck and refrain from using it and encourage others to do the same.

            As a matter of fact current usage of the N word does not sanitize it, a substantial number of African Americans continue to find it offensive.

  • NF

    Why on earth would ANY team EVER name themselves after a word that has only EVER been an insult? The N-word argument is totally idiotic.

  • defender of the b and g

    It appears many get their opinions from TV and not historical documents, Idiocracy has raised it’s unpromising head, freedom is doomed.

  • defender of the b and g

    The logo was designed by an Native American who came to the Redskins with the idea…..http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2014/02/16/don-wetzel-dont-call-redskins-logo-offensive/5528647/

    “It needs to be said that an Indian from the state of Montana created that logo, and he did it the right way,” Don said. “It represents the Red Nation and it’s something to be proud of.”

  • David Ozab

    Hey! I grew up in Alexandria on the block of West Windsor between Russell and Braddock. Glad to see a fellow Redskins fan and fellow Democrat standing up to the ignorance and the bullying. Those commenting here who oppose the name need to think hard about “why?” Is it because it “sounds” like a slur, or you’ve been told by a handful of people in the media that it is? I looked into this fairly with the belief that if it really was as offensive as it has been portrayed I would support a change. Instead I found about about the history of the term, it’s past usage, and current support (or at least neutrality) among many Native Americans for it, and I am now more convinced than ever that it should not be changed! Whether you’re a registered Democrat, Republican, or independent and whether you are conservative, liberal, or moderate, please do some research before you take a position. Don’t be spoon fed on this or any other issue.

  • Russ

    Don’t use the N- word as an excuse for trying to change the name of the team. The Natives gave the name, so if we were to give a pole to just the Natives, what would the pole show. It’s wrong to sweep the people under the rug, but that is what happens when you put money and power over just doing the right thing.

  • Old-Timer

    Not your finest hour, Chap. Not even close. Sad to see that you’re signing on with the whole “Oh, the Obama people are going after them,” when the PTO made the SAME decision they made the first time. “Abuse of federal power”? You’re better than that — or you were.