Never mind the government shutdown. What's really important in Obamaland is apparently whether football's Washington Redskins keep their Redskins team nickname.
The Associated Press's Julie Pace, with help from Joseph White and Darlene Superville, has an 880-word writeup on this breathtakingly important subject. Too bad the entire premise — that Indians "feel pretty strongly" about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage," and that the "Redskins name is one such negative stereotype — is false, based on results reported by ESPN columnist Rick Reilly in September. First, a few AP excerpts (bolds are mine):
OBAMA OPEN TO NAME CHANGE FOR WASHINGTON REDSKINS
President Barack Obama says he would "think about changing" the Washington Redskins' name if he owned the football team as he waded into the controversy involving a word many consider offensive to Native Americans.
Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names such as the Redskins offend "a sizable group of people." He said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.
"I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things," he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday at the White House.
An avid sports fan who roots for his hometown Chicago Bears, Obama said he doesn't think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. "I don't want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so," he said.
But he appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team's name, noting that Indians "feel pretty strongly" about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage.
The team's owner, Dan Snyder has vowed to never abandon the name.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the name - a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the name in his previous statements this year.
... (Lanny) Davis (Yes, that Lanny Davis -- Ed.) referred to fans of those teams and hockey's Chicago Blackhawks in his statement, saying Redskins fans "love our team and its name and, like those fans, we do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group."
ESPN's Reilly, who usually comes down on the liberal side of the ledger, sometimes objectionably so, completely debunked the "negative stereotypes about their Heritage" meme in his ESPN column on September 18:
Have the people spoken?
I guess this is where I'm supposed to fall in line and do what every other American sports writer is doing. I'm supposed to swear I won't ever write the words "Washington Redskins" anymore because it's racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. Maybe it is.
I just don't quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Mont. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.
"The whole issue is so silly to me," says Bob Burns, my wife's father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. "The name just doesn't bother me much. It's an issue that shouldn't be an issue, not with all the problems we've got in this country."
And I definitely don't know how I'll tell the athletes at Wellpinit (Wash.) High School -- where the student body is 91.2 percent Native American -- that the "Redskins" name they wear proudly across their chests is insulting them. Because they have no idea.
"I've talked to our students, our parents and our community about this and nobody finds any offense at all in it," says Tim Ames, the superintendent of Wellpinit schools. "'Redskins' is not an insult to our kids. 'Wagon burners' is an insult. 'Prairie n-----s' is an insult. Those are very upsetting to our kids. But 'Redskins' is an honorable name we wear with pride. … In fact, I'd like to see somebody come up here and try to change it."
... And it's not going to be easy telling the Kingston (Okla.) High School (57.7 percent Native American) Redskins that the name they've worn on their uniforms for 104 years has been a joke on them this whole time. Because they wear it with honor.
"It's a name that honors the people," says Kingston English teacher Brett Hayes, who is Choctaw. "The word 'Oklahoma' itself is Choctaw for 'red people.' The students here don't want it changed. To them, it seems like it's just people who have no connection with the Native American culture, people out there trying to draw attention to themselves.
"My kids are really afraid we're going to lose the Redskin name. They say to me, 'They're not going to take it from us, are they, Dad?'"
Too late. White America has spoken. You aren't offended, so we'll be offended for you.
Exactly, Rick. Except make that "white, liberal, PC-infected, we're going to do your thinking for you" America.
Are Pace and the others at AP so completely unaware of how clueless Obama's interjection into this matter looks while the government is (sort of) shutdown? I guess not. In this instance, Republicans have caught a small break.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.