The Washington Post reported on April 30 that Washington, D.C., City Council member Daniel Grosso plans to push through a non-binding resolution changing the Washington Redskins' name to the "Redtails." Why? "Redskins" is a "derogatory, racist name," according to Gross. The franchise was established in 1932 when certain racial terms were used more widely. Now, it's not the case. Yet it's odd the the same council that's urging a franchise to change its name due to racism has members that have articulated similar views towards members of the D.C. community, specifically Asians. Former mayor of D.C. Marion Barry (yes, the one who was caught smoking crack with a prostitute) lobbed some harsh attacks against Asian-Americans last year. So, if D.C. is doing this to prevent themselves from looking intolerant, insensitive and racist – they're too late.
In April 2012, Barry, who won the Democratic primary for his Ward 8 seat, described Asian businesses in the District of Columbia like this: "We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops ... They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too."
The Asian bashing didn't stop there. Later in the month, Barry said, “If you go to the hospital now, you’ll find a number of immigrants who are nurses, particularly from the Philippines. And no offense, but let’s grow our own teachers, let’s grow our own nurses, and so that we don’t have to go scrounging in our community clinics and other kinds of places, having to hire people from somewhere else.”
The good news is that only in a bastion of liberalism could a person like Barry say such things, and remain politically safe. After all, he's a Democrat. He hides in the shade of media protection. Now, we should all commend Barry for sort-of apologizing for his remarks, which was only after he referred to Polish people as "Polacks" in his remarks.
I have no dog in this fight. I'm a diehard New York Giants fan, so I really don't care about the Redskins. In fact, if they decide to sell the franchise over this debacle, I can concentrate all my disgust towards the Eagles. Yet the fact the government is spearheading this political-correctness tour is nonsensical.
If the people of D.C. want to change a franchise's name, they should be the ones at the forefront — not a bunch on council members who don't have to worry about re-election and obviously don't have enough to do. In the mid 1990s, Abe Pollin, owner of the basketball team then named the Washington Bullets, decided to change the name due to the high homicide rate in D.C. They're now the Wizards. That's where the change should be. If owners feel pressure from their fans, and if that pressure translates into loss of revenue, you bet the Redskins executive management will have discussions about changing the name. But government meddling in areas where it doesn't belong may have the opposite effect.
D.C. already has its resident racist sitting on the council. Why would it embarrass itself more with this superficial public-relations campaign?