On Wednesday, Mort Zuckerman’s New York Daily News announced that it will no longer refer to Washington’s football team as the “Redskins” and use the team’s logo anywhere in the paper.
Zuckerman, the publishing mogul, actually helped Redskins owner Dan Snyder purchase the franchise.
“The Daily News publishes its annual, best-in-the-city National Football League preview on Thursday with one deliberate omission — the Washington franchise appears without the name Redskins,” the paper announced in an editorial Wednesday evening. “Similarly, its logo depicting a feathered Native American has been replaced with an image that uses the team’s burgundy and gold colors to key readers to stories, columns and statistics relating to Washington.”
The Daily News announced it will refer to the Redskins as “Washington”:
Enormously popular and deeply ingrained in sporting culture, the Redskins name is a throwback to a vanished era of perniciously casual racial attitudes. No new franchise would consider adopting a name based on pigmentation — Whiteskins, Blackskins, Yellowskins or Redskins — today. The time has come to leave the word behind.
Loyalty, tradition, affection and nostalgia all weigh heavily toward accepting the name as an artifact that has been cleansed of derogatory meaning by association with celebrated athletics.
While the team ownership and many fans hold such a belief in good faith, the inescapable truth is that the term Redskin derives solely from the racial characteristic of skin tone in a society that is struggling mightily to be color-blind.
Still more, many Native Americans view the word as a slur born in the country’s inglorious victimization of their ancestors. Their representatives have persuaded a federal panel to rule that the team name and logo are offensive and should be stripped of U.S. trademark protection.
The Daily News said it wanted to drop the term now because “as attitudes evolve, words can move from common parlance to unacceptable in good company”:
See the end of “Negro” and the rise of “black” or “African-American,” the end of “retarded” and the rise of “developmentally disabled,” the end of “handicapped” and the rise of “people with disabilities.”
Here’s a simple test of whether Redskin passes muster: Would you use the term in referring to Native Americans in anything other than a derogatory way?
The answer, of course, is no. So it will pass from stories and columns chronicling Washington’s ups and downs. An inextricable extension of the brand, the logo will go as well.
The publication, though, said it would “publish the term Redskin in reader letters about the controversy and in quotations in stories about the controversy when a full quotation seems particularly relevant.”
“Otherwise, the name will not appear in the newspaper,” the paper wrote. “Online, Daily News readers will encounter the name only in NFL stats packages and on a Washington team page that are provided by vendors. We will work to eliminate it here, too.”
The paper concluded that a recent ESPN poll found that 71% of Americans wanted the Redskins to keep its name was actually proof that “movement is headed in the right direction” since “23% said the team should adopt a new one — up 9 points from just a year ago.”
“Movement is headed in the right direction and we’re proud to be part of the trend,” the Daily News said.
The Washington Post‘s editorial board recently announced that it would no longer use the Redskins name and other outlets, including but not limited to MMQB, Washington City Paper, the Seattle Times, have all announced they would not use “Redskins” either. Native American activist groups will reportedly pressure all media outlets this season to ban “Redskins” when writing about “Washington” or “Washington’s football team.”