Saturday, February 9, 2013

Still Life With Robin: Hail to the Red____s!

Photo by Thomas S. Mann

by Peggy Robin

With a few good knocks from opponents like Washington Post columnists Robert McCartney and Courtland Milloy, and some heavy-duty piling on by the distinguished panelists at the National Museum of the American Indian**, (abetted at first by Mayor Vincent Gray until he started to waffle on the subject***), it seems that the Washington Redskins are finally getting the push they need to change the name from the offensive and insulting "Redskins" to something else.

But what should that something else be?

The leading contender right now appears to be "Warriors,"**** a term still strongly linked to Native Americans. Proponents of that change say that way the team could at least keep the current Indian head team logo, and the switch would be a lot less expensive. While that may be economical, it strikes me as missing the underlying point: that Native Americans object to the use by sports teams of any names or images associated with their history and culture. They say it puts them in the same category as Lions, Tigers, and Bears, or worse, conveys the sense that present-day members of Native tribes are like other bygone, mythologized, and cartoon-ified characters, like Buccaneers, Vikings, and Forty-Niners.

If the team does get a new name, I hope, first of all, that it will be something that can bring us all together, and not drive further controversy. What better symbol for that than the thing that waves at the start of every game? Old Glory, the Stars & Stripes, the Red White & Blue. Any one of these three terms could be turned into a team name we could all rally round.

On second thought, I don't think "the Old Glories" would work. It doesn't do to imply that the players are superannuated. And if they blow a game, just think of all the inglorious wordplays that headline writers will make on "Glories."

So let's move on to the Stars & Stripes. They could be the Stars for short. It's catchy-sounding and could easily be turned into a visually appealing logo.

But I think the real winner is the Red White & Blue. (It would be best to keep it punctuation free, not cluttering the logo with a comma, and making the plural "s" optional.) Colors already make excellent team names (Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Reds) and in this case, three colors are better than one. Best of all, we're already quite used to hearing "Washington Red____" and just need to substitute "White & Blue" for "skins." Not hard at all, once you say it to yourself a few times.

Without a whole lot of rewriting the team song works, too.  You do have to add a quick couple of extra beats after you sing "Red," but what was a long note on "skins" can easily be turned into three short ones to accommodate the two extra syllables. Change the third line to delete the offensive reference to "Braves on the warpath" and insert a new line picking up the flag imagery of the new name, and you get this anthem:

Hail to the Red White & Blue
Hail victory
Fly to the goal line
Fight for old DC!


Column references
* Robert McCartney's argument for dropping "Redskins" is here and Courtland Milloy's is here
** Mayor Vincent Gray urges the team to change its name and then backs off                                                
*** Smithsonian forum demands Redskins name change
****Letter urging Redskins to change name to "Warriors"


Still Life With Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

1 comment:

  1. They need to change the name of the Bronx Bombers to something less offensive to decent Southern people. Filthy Yankee invaders.