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With the media controversy about the name of the Washington Redskins, we need to ask “What’s in a name?” and “Why single out the Redskins?”

Is the word “Redskin” offensive?  I guess that depends on how it is used. While it was used offensively back in the day, I haven’t heard it used offensively since I have been an adult.  Mostly I recall it being used offensively in John Wayne movies where all natives were dealt with in a manner that should be considered offensive in today’s society.  Even the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto’s name, which means fool in Spanish, was offensive.

But since I was a kid, I have not heard the word “Redskin” used as an ethnic slur.  Not really.

Or do the Washington Redskins suffer because they are in the same town as the former Washington Bullets who reacted to controversy caused by there name in a gun toting, murder rampant place by changing to the Wizards in 1997.  Even that change created some controversy because Washington is a predominantly African-American city and Wizard is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan.

There are a lot of other team names that could also be deemed offensive.  Mostly because the teams were named many years ago and society has changed.

Sure there are the Cleveland Indians, Edmonton Eskimos, New York Yankees even the Vancouver Canucks.  All these names have been used insensitively to stereotype kinds of people in negative manners.  And teams like the Atlanta Braves, who have an otherwise possibly correct name, have encountered issues because of their native theme and mascot.

How about teams with war or warrior names.  War isn’t exactly politically correct.  As we enter the CFL season, we have a team called the Blue Bombers.  Bombing is not something we would endorse in our society so perhaps another less warlike name would be more appropriate.

Should Edmonton update its team name to Inuit, since Eskimo is deemed politically incorrect these days?  When will we see the Edmonton Inuit playing the Winnipeg Blue Droppers?

While we are at it, what about teams with names like Vikings, Pirates or Buccaneers?  Are these teams in favour of stealing, raping and pillaging?  Let’s take another look at that.  All these acts are not friendly practices.

Should we turn a blind eye to names some consider offensive?  Or is this a popularity contest where each name deemed offensive gets attacked all the time.  While I have mentioned some professional team names, please notice they are all North American and professional.  There are a whole range of collegiate names to review as well.

One of my favourite native companions offered this suggestion: If the name Washington Redskins is offensive, they should change it to D.C. Redskins.  After all, Washington is pretty offensive.

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