Mike Ditka is still speaking his mind all these years later. More than 20 years after ‘Iron Mike’ was relieved of his coaching duties with the Chicago Bears, ‘Da Coach’ is still making headlines as an analyst for ESPN.
Earlier this week, in an interview he did with RedskinsHistorian.com, Mike Ditka spoke out against those who believe that the name ‘Redskins’ is a slur and blames “all the political correct idiots in America.” Ditka also stated how the name was “said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian.”
The swell on changing the Washington Redskins‘ team name has definitely hit a fever pitch. Last year, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King said he would no longer write ‘Redskins’ in his writing, and this year CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms has said he is considering only referring to them as ‘Washington’ during his broadcasts. Amongst the media, Ditka seems to be in the minority, but in this case, the minority is right.
Ditka may have been crass in his quotes (what else is new?), but his points are not wrong. Those who say the Redskins team name is offensive claim that those who support the name are ignorant, when in actuality, those who claim the name’s offensive nature are actually the ignorant ones.
The term ‘Redskin’ is actually a term that was coined by Native Americans themselves. This was a term they used to speak of themselves as a people and separate them from the Europeans who continued to migrate across the Atlantic. The term is no different than stating that Peyton Manning is white or Michael Jordan is black. It is simply a term, again, created by Native Americans to refer to their own race.
Instead of assuming the name is offensive because the expression no longer sounds politically correct in our world, perhaps those who are offended should realize that the expression was never a slur. Where is the outcry over the state of Oklahoma? Oklahoma is a Choctaw Indian word meaning “red people.” Again, a word coined by Native Americans that refer to themselves as ‘red.’ When will political correctness begin pressuring Oklahoma State Legislature to change their state’s name? Or is this name only accepted because it isn’t as sexy as attacking Daniel Snyder’s team?
We have seen plenty of support from the pro-Redskin camp that the name is not offensive to Native Americans, but there is definitely evidence that it is offensive to a smaller percentage of Native Americans. The argument has been presented that if one person is offended then the name needs to be changed. Well if that’s true, when do we change the names of the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Florida State Seminoles or Chicago Blackhawks? What about a small vocal minority that states they are offended by the name “Fighting Irish?” Does ‘Yankees’ offend some in the South? Does ‘Rebels’ offend some in the North? In essence, it isn’t hard to find someone who is offended by several team names, not just Redskins.
Have we reached a point where every team needs to be named after an animal? Is that safe or will PETA find it offensive one day that we are naming teams in a violent sport such as football after sweet animals like the cardinals and dolphins?
Good for Daniel Snyder to stand strong against the wave of political correctness that is currently assaulting his team. His name is meant to honor Native Americans, not demean them. His name is shared with Red Mesa High School, a school on the Navajo reservation in Arizona that wears the name ‘Redskin’ on their jerseys as a badge of honor.
If the Native Americans created the term themselves and if those like the Navajo are still not offended to this day, the question should be if they aren’t offended, why should you be?