Post Columnist: Skins Name Change is “Simple Decency”

It seems when it rains Redskins criticism, it pours -- and we’re not talking about the team’s performance.

It’s the controversy over the team’s name.

Conservative Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer is the latest to weigh in on the appropriateness of the Washington football team's name, “Redskins.”

Krauthammer, a big fan of the team, wrote Friday that the meaning of words change and that “Redskins” – no matter the initial intent or goodwill of many fans – is now an offensive word.

The columnist wrote that out of “simple decency” the name should be changed.

“This is a matter of usage,” Krauthammer wrote of the name’s offense, “and usage changes. If you shot a remake of 1934’s “The Gay Divorcee,” you have to change that title, too. Not because the lady changed but because the word did.”

Krauthammer joins a growing list of prominent people weighing in – from President Obama to other journalists, government groups and private organizations.

Friday on the WAMU 88.5 “Politics Hour” at noon, Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker repeated his comment this week that if he owned the team, he would change the name.

“It’s a private corporation, it’s privately owned,” Baker said. “But I was asked the question – would I change the name if I owned the team and I said, ‘yes.’ But I don’t own the team. It’s a decision the owner has to make.”

Baker also stressed several times that he “couldn’t have a partner in the county better than the Redskins.”

Baker said the team has helped with many nonprofit and community organizations. He also said the team – at the risk of severe criticism – backed the county’s support for gambling.

Sources told News4 that the team complained privately to Baker after he initially made a similar comment earlier in the week.

Lawyer Lanny J. Davis, who has been hired by team owner Dan Snyder to advise on the controversy, declined comment to News4 Friday afternoon. Davis, usually an outspoken attorney, said he has been told by the team not to comment publicly.

Snyder’s comment earlier this year that he would “never – and you can underline never" change the name only brought more criticism. In recent weeks, even President Obama has weighed in, saying if he were the owner he’d serious consider changing the name that’s offensive to many.

And there’s no sign that the name controversy is abating.

The Oneida Indian tribe in New York has been leading a lengthy campaign to rid all sports teams of derogatory Indian names or misused insignia. This week, it began running one-minute radio spots on two Washington area stations in advance of the home team game against the Bears Sunday.

The radio ad says team owner Snyder can enhance his own legacy by changing the name.

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