The Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ, consisting of 180 congregations with 40,000 members from Richmond to New Jersey, voted unanimously to boycott of the Washington Redskins’ games and merchandize at its annual meeting. This decision is expected to pass to the national governing body of the church, which oversees 5,100 congregations with about 1 million members, which is expected to endorse it.
It would be good to know that the world is in such fine shape that this is the most pressing of our earthly challenges as far as United Church of Christ can see. Unfortunately, that’s not the import of this story. The story shows how political correctness, illicitly pursued by the abuse of official power, can and will spread throughout the culture, leading institution and organizations to believe that it is ethical to try to bend others to their will based on subjective views of “offensiveness.” It is not, however.
This is abuse of power and position, not to mention proportion and common sense, on a grand scale. It would seem that the Church is taking its cue from the U.S. Senate, the Democratic members of which (with a couple Republicans mixed in for taste) sent a threatening, quasi-extortive letter to the NFL insisting that Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, be brought to his knees for refusing to change his team’s long-standing name and logo, like Donald Sterling was brought to his knees in retribution for the content of a private conversation in his own bedroom. It is also probably inspired by the inappropriate meddling of President Obama, who will presume to tell a private citizen how to do his job though he is wretched at performing his own. Thus inspired (for this is how even irresponsible elected leaders warp the culture in realms beyond politics), the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ decided to grab some publicity and skin in the power game by gratuitously boycotting a sports team because…well, let’s hear the Church’s explanation, shall we?
The Rev. John R. Deckenback, who oversees churches and clergy in the Mid-Atlantic region, described the “nuts and bolts” of the issue as whether “a pro sports team that receives substantial public financial support be using a name that others find demeaning.” What “others” would that be, Reverend? And if some “others”—Satanists, for example— decide that the name of the United Church of Christ’s name is offensive to them, who knows why, will you endorse changing it to suit their whims?
The silly rhetoric surrounding this fake issue—and it has always been a fake issue, for no sane individual, Native American or otherwise, should care what a sports team is named sufficiently to distract them from watching a re-run of “Three’s Company”—elevates the nonsensical to a crusade. “Changing the name of the Washington NFL team will not solve the problems of our country’s many trails of broken promises and discriminatory isolation of our Native American communities. However, a change in the nation’s capital can send a strong message,” intones Deckenback. Yes, and that message is: “Dare to express yourself in a manner that the anointed speech and thought police deem inappropriate, and you will be destroyed.”
Establishing that message is the only thing of substance that the name change will accomplish, since the current name inflicts no actual harm or damage on anyone, whatsoever. It does not encourage or endorse the contemporary referral to Native Americans as “redskins.” It is not a catalyst for discrimination. The name, unfortunate and archaic as it is, is irrelevant to anything but the team it describes, but the bullying of private citizens and their businesses into adopting self-censorship as the standard of “free speech” in the United States is relevant, harmful, and. yes, offensive. Jesse Jackson, who has naturally jumped on the anti-Redskins bandwagon because he has nothing better to do other than visit his son in the penitentiary, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying that Redskins owner Dan Snyder “can’t win this in the long run, and it’s a fight not worth fighting.”
Wrong. I can’t stand Dan Snyder, could not care less about the Redskins (my home team), and would be perfectly happy to see the name changed when the team’s owner, based on his own balancing of factors and not illicit pressure from the government, organized religion, or grievance hustlers like Jackson, chooses to do so. The fight worth fighting, and I will support Snyder, his team and the NFL against the political correctness bullies in that fight, is for individual free expression and self-determination.
Side Note: Amplifying upon the earlier post on cognitive dissonance: it is no coincidence that the attacks on the team name have gained traction while the ‘Skins, as they are called here, stink on ice. A winning team would pull its name up on the dissonance scale, and make attacks on the name harder to sustain. The name is deemed more offensive, and changing it more acceptable to many Redskins fans, because the team’s play is offensive too.
Graphic: Rag Blog