Snyder adds insult to injury with new Indian foundation

Posted: March 27, 2014

LET ME START by acknowledging that what the owner of the NFL team based in Washington is doing is to be admired.

No matter how wealthy he is, Daniel Snyder is under no obligation to do anything for anybody but his own family.

So the idea that he announced that he has started a foundation to assist Native American communities should be acknowledged as something positive.

Any individual who does things to assist other human beings deserves credit.

But - and you knew there was going to be one - Snyder again shows he doesn't get the issue concerning the offensive slur the nickname of his team represents.

No matter how hard he tries, he won't be able to make enough moves to spin it into a positive.

The creation of the foundation is great, but it has nothing to do with the discussion of the team's name - at least until Snyder thrust it into the debate.

On his team's website in a letter addressed to fans of his team, Snyder said that he and members of his staff had spent the past 4 months visiting 26 tribal reservations in 20 different states to "listen and learn firsthand about the views, attitudes and experiences of the Tribes."

Snyder went on to cite issues about poverty, health and social concerns that affect Native American communities.

In response to his travels and research, Snyder said he created the charitable organization "to commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities.

The name that Snyder chose is the - wait for it; wait for it - the "Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation."

Huh? Are you kidding me?

OK, before some of you jump on me, I know I wrote a column last June vowing never to use that team's nickname again.

But I feel I have to back away from that in this instance because to sanitize the name Snyder chose for his foundation would distract from the absurdity of the logic that went into coming up with it.

Let's wrap our minds around this for a moment.

Snyder, who is under siege for refusing to change the racial slur that is the name of his team, thinks it makes sense to use the same racial slur to headline his program to provide assistance to the people at whom that racial slur is directed.

Does a guy accused of being insensitive because of his support of a racial slur truly think that makes sense?

This situation is even more insulting to Native Americans than using the nickname, which has been around for 82 years.

This time, Snyder is consciously attaching the slur to something that is supposed to be a good thing.

The name of this foundation is the equivalent of Snyder naming a group the "Washington Darkies African Americans Foundation" or "Washington Yellow Men Asian Americans Foundation" or "Washington Crackers Caucasian Americans Foundation."

I have to believe Snyder was aware enough to know the outrage that giving his foundation such a same would create. He could have named it the "Daniel Snyder Original Americans Foundation."

I take issue with the hubris Snyder has in repeating a hot-button name that has had the president and members of Congress suggesting it be changed. Give him credit for not trying to make a secret of his ulterior motive.

"Several months ago I wrote you about my personal reflections our team name and our shared Washington [racial slur] heritage," Snyder wrote in the letter. "I wrote then - and believe even more firmly now - that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents."

He goes on to restate the argument that the team name, in terms of the NFL, is a representation of honor, pride and spirit. Snyder supports his argument by using a quote from Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso: "There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name."

And? So what?

It's never hard to find others to agree with your view, no matter what it may be.

There are African-Americans everywhere who 100 percent support using the "N-word" as a term of endearment among one another. That does not change the fact that, at its core, the "N-word" is still a disgusting racial slur.

If Snyder is so convinced of his position on the "R-word," why is it called the "Washington (racial slur) Original Americans Foundation" and not the "Washington (racial slur) (racial slur) Foundation"?

Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who has publicly used the same reasoning to defend the name, know the team's name is indeed a racial slur.

If the NFL decides to penalize the use of a racial slur on the field during a game, it will be interesting to see how Goodell handles the hypocrisy of the team's name.

We know Snyder's motivation. For reasons of tradition, marketing and personal stubbornness, Snyder is determined to defend his team's name.

Snyder should just leave it at that and accept the heat, instead of trying to alter the beliefs of those like me who know that name is a racial slur because he doesn't like being portrayed in a negative light.

"The Washington [racial slur] Original Americans Foundation will serve as a living, breathing legacy - and an ongoing reminder - of the heritage and tradition that is the Washington [racial slur]," Snyder said.

Yes, and that's kind of a shame, because Snyder's foundation sounds like something truly good.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|