Has the time come for the Washington Redskins to change their controversial name? Eleanor Holmes Norton, delegate for the District of Columbia argued Thursday that it is.
The district’s Democratic representative said on The Daily Rundown that Dan Snyder, owner of the NFL franchise, has remained defiant about keeping the name even as Norton and nine other lawmakers signed a letter urging the change of the team’s “derogatory, demeaning, and offensive” name for Native Americans.
“I don’t know what Snyder is standing on, or what the principle is…the man inherited the name,” said Norton, pointing out that Snyder has a contentious past in D.C., having sued a local reporter for criticizing his management of the team.
Snyder said earlier this month he “will never change the name of the team….It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
Norton and her fellow members who signed the letter think the way to change the team’s name now could be to block the trademarking of the term “redskin.” While there has been a bill proposed in the House to do so, Norton said she was hopeful that a trademark board would eventually refuse to renew the patent for the name.
“This is not about the First Amendment, this is about branding,” said Norton. “You can lose a brand that disparages an ethnic group.”
Even though an Associated Press/GFK poll from last month showed that 79% opposed changing the franchise’s name, Norton said the solution was educating the public and many D.C. residents as to why the name is offensive to many Native Americans, and even suggested an alternative—the Redtails, an homage to the African-American Tuskegee Airmen who flew in World War II.
But, Norton promised, the controversial name won’t tamper her support for the hometown team.
“I’m a big Redskins fan, so understand this is said with love,” she said.