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There is a really hot debate going on now, with the start of the NFL season, about whether the name of the Washington Redskins should be changed. People are piling on, trying to prove how moral, aware and understanding they are toward the original American settlers, the people our ancestors misnamed as Indians.

The way these things usually go, the name will likely wind up being changed. The criticism wont stop until then. Certain newspapers and television stations have said they wont call the team Redskins, which then becomes awkward and makes the situation, over time, something that isnt likely to continue indefinitely. Let the debate continue, let the best side win, but consider a couple of other things.

The Kansas City teams stadium is called Arrowhead. You know, those things the Indians shot at white men to kill them and their families, often women and children, too. The team is called The Chiefs. What right does any white owned team have to appropriate symbols belonging to these tribes and make money from them? If we are going to change, how much change is required to show true respect?

A lot of the screaming about the Redskins name right now falls under the heading of moral displacement, a term that means people want to show how fair and decent they are by condemning the actions of others, without looking at their own moral shortcomings. Sports commentators and analysts, and some in the general public, are using this issue to demonstrate, to themselves, their morality and liberal character. Changing the name of the Redskins will do nothing, nothing at all, to improve the lot of the original American tribes, but it is cheap to advocate for it, because it doesnt cost those screaming for it anything at all. It is easy to be moral about matters that dont hit you directly.

While we are at it, the term native Americans should be dropped entirely from our vocabulary.First, the Indians were immigrants to this continent just like the Europeans. They came much, much earlier (thousands of years), but the scientific evidence indicates they immigrated from Asia via a land bridge across the Bering Strait and into Alaska. They very likely fought pitched, deadly battles against each other on this  continent, or even among the same tribes, until they all dispersed to various sections of North America. The original Americans had learned how to be fierce warriors long before they fought the European settlers.

In looking back and finding virtue in their battles to be left alone, we have made romantic, noble characters out of American Indians. We should realize, instead, that they were human, they killed other humans, some eventually owned black slaves and the battles between Europeans and Indians were not one sided. Both sides engaged in massacres of innocents and tactics that could be called terror. (Overall, the historic record indicates that the white slaughter of original Americans was likely greater than the massacres by Indians.)

Native Americans, as applied to Indians, is also a slur against every other person born in this country. If we are not native here, where is our home? It is our tribes, whether white, black, Asian or whatever, who are not native to this country. If you were born here, you are a native.

Calling the descendants of European settlers anything but native puts millions of people in a strange position. What are they, invader Americans? Pretender Americans? Are the rest of us just visiting here for a few hundred years until we can go home to Ireland or France?

The tribes that were here before the European tribes arrived should properly be called original Americans. They deserve respect and they deserve to be acknowledged, but we should not do so in a way that harms the majority of the US population by inadvertently calling ourselves non-native Americans. It is our tribes who are not native, but we are natives by birth.

This is a personal issue with me. If I am not native here, where am I native? Do I, and we, have a home? The term native American seems to have been cooked up in academic circles and then spread to the general population, like a disease. Now, it is losing its appeal to academics at a time when it enjoys great popularity with the rest of us. The term original Americans is not as easy to say (2 more syllables), but it would also force us to think about the whole matter in a different way. Lets not condemn ourselves in trying to be proper toward others.

Doug Terry, 9.3.14

Bob Costas speaking about the Redskins name on ESPNs Outside the Lines as reported by the Washington Post:

Costas was then asked about what it would take for the other NFL owners to force a name change. Well, obviously the consensus has not come together yet, your own polling  indicates that, but there is movement, as there has been with other issues, Costas said. Just as the meaning and the implications of the word Redskins has evolved over time, regardless of the original intent, and I want to say here, if it isnt clear already, I dont think theres any maliciousness in Dan Snyders position, or that hes intentionally disrespecting anyone, at least up until now, but the tide is shifting a little bit.

And eventually, the reason, I think, the NFL and Dan Snyder should come around on this is not because of coercion, not because of legal action, not because of overblown accusations of racism, but because reasonable arguments persuade them that its the right thing to do. This is not a question of political correctness. It should be done out of common sense, common courtesy and common decency.

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