Slate misses the end zone with its ‘Redskins’ play

Updated
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder walks across the field before a preseason NFL football game against the against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore,...
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder walks across the field before a preseason NFL football game against the against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore,...
AP Photo/Nick Wass

There is a great debate to be had over whether Washington’s football team—the best NFL team ever in this author’s objective opinion—should retire its nickname, the “Redskins.”
Leaders of the Congressional Native American Caucus have made a very strong case for the name’s inherent racism and retirement, while polls show that, nationally and locally, the idea of changing the name isn’t popular.
And while Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma is one of those Caucus members who doesn’t like the name, other Native Americans have said they have no problem with it.
Slate editor David Plotz today is the latest to wander into this debate with his proclamation that “this is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins.” The announcement startled the Venn diagram world of Twitter/politico/NFL junkies—leading to a typical amount of D.C. harrumphing about whether Plotz was right to ban the nickname from the e-pages of Slate.
But the most startling aspect of the essay is how badly Plotz undercuts his own anti-________ argument.
After the declaration of a new editorial policy and an impressive history of the controversy and the word “Redskins” itself, Plotz drops this spanner into his works:

“So while the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated—like an old aunt who still talks about “colored people” or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay.”

Yes, Plotz notes research that demonstrates that the term “has a relatively innocent history” and then calls the name “extremely tacky and dated.” And that’s the problem? As The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack noted:

I used to think that the name Redskins was offensive, unlike names of specific tribes, until I read this Slate piece http://t.co/u5C20LPuxE
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) August 8, 2013

Frankly, making major decisions because you find something to be “tacky” is exactly what an old aunt would do. If anything, Plotz only fueled the opposition’s arguments by providing them a thorough case history for why the name “Redskins” doesn’t have the racist history most people assume.
More puzzling for the editor of a magazine based in Washington making a major editorial change about a team likewise based in Washington: he offered no firm answer for what his writers now should label the team (which should please his copy editors to no end).
To be fair, that’s the question that’s always dogged the side who believes the name must change. As obnoxious as team owner Dan Snyder can be defending the name, no one has ever suggested a worthy replacement.
Until now.
Perhaps the best suggestion has come from Redskins fan and Huffington Post reporter Arthur Delaney. Noting the team’s D.C.-ness and that “At least two former Skins players were known as secretaries of defense”, he suggests the following:

”This team should be called the Washington Department of Football.”

Genius. Dallas would HATE that.

Slate misses the end zone with its ‘Redskins’ play

Updated