The Daily Show Tackles the Washington Redskins Name Controversy


The Washington Redskins name controversy got The Daily Show with Jon Stewart treatment. The show sent Hysterical correspondent Jason Jones to Landover, Maryland to investigate the controversy and get to the bottom line. Is the franchise’s team name Redskins offensive to Native Americans? Or are liberal elites too sensitive and the name is being taken out of context? Plus, should the league force the franchise to change the name? The answer, of course, is yes, just ask Native Americans.

The Redskins Name Has Got to Go

Since the 1960s, a growing number of Native Americans and supporters have demanded the ‘Redskins’ name be changed. The logo and name have been criticized for reinforcing negative ethnic stereotypes. The name refers to the practice of paying a bounty for Indians, and that “redskin”  means the bloody scalp of Native Americans. Even the Oxford Dictionary ruled the word “dated and offensive.”

Oxford Dictionaries website

In February of this year, two members of Congress wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league “to take a formal position in support of a name change” by the Washington Redskins. Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Tom Cole drafted a letter and released it to the Washington PostIt read:

The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” Cantwell and Cole write in the letter. “It is clear that you haven’t heard the leading voices of this country — and not just Indian Country. Virtually every major civil rights organization in America has spoken out in opposition to this name including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the Rainbow Coalition and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and other team officials have continually said they don’t plan to change the name.

Daily Show Gotcha Moment

The Daily Show segment brought together four die-hard Redskins fans to defend the team’s name. The bit became contentious because according to the fans, Comedy Central producers didn’t inform them they would be confronted by Native American protestors. “They told us they were going to have a fan panel, and, at some other time, they were going to do a panel with Native Americans,” said Brian Dortch, 38. “So I said back, ‘Just to clarify, specifically, we’re not doing a cross-panel discussion right?’ The producer said, ‘Yeah, right. That would be too serious for Comedy Central.’ ”

Daily Show segment featuring Native Americans reactions to Washington NFL team name controversy.

One of the members of the Native American contingent Tara Houska said, “My heart goes out to them because they are people, too.” Houska is an Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation and works for Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry. “But it’s a weird position for them to take because someone is crying over the loss of their offensive mascot when I am right there, standing in front of them. I don’t think they’re racist. I think their mascot is racist.”

What do you think about the controversy? Is it time to change Washington’s team name? How do you feel about Warriors? In respect of the Native American community, F&TS will not use ‘Redskins’ to refer to the Washington team.