“What Would Jesus Do?” My Guess: Devote His Energy To Something Other Than Forcing A Free Citizen To Re-Name His Own NFL Team

jesus football

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.

____________________________________

Facts: Washington Post 1, 2

Graphic: Rag Blog

 

 

37 thoughts on ““What Would Jesus Do?” My Guess: Devote His Energy To Something Other Than Forcing A Free Citizen To Re-Name His Own NFL Team

  1. To be clear however, other than a tiny percentage of exceptions as every rule has, for the most part the UCC may as well be considered just a denomination of a Leftist Progressive religion…

    Its no surprise then that as a corporate body of worshippers they would take a non-theoligical stance espoused by leftist progressives and make it a big deal in their church.

  2. You really do always manage to find a graphic to illustrate every topic, it’s one thing I always enjoy about the blog.Today’s is a hoot! Wherever did you find it?

    • Thanks. That aspect of the blog allows my more whimsical side to get a workout—readers seldom mention it. In this particular case, I googled “Jesus playing football” under images. This time I got lucky.

      • We all got lucky. 🙂 What would Jesus do? Execute a perfect handoff, of course. Now that we have Jesus as our QB, the offense is unstoppable!

        • Pshaw; everyone knows that Jesus plays soccer and baseball.

          Wait, we’re not talking about the same guy, are we?

  3. When will the San Diego Padres have to change their name? Certainly some Roman Catholics take offense at that name. But at least that name connects directly to a Church; it’s not a case of some denomination sticking its nose into something totally secular and, in reality, unimportant in the larger scheme of things. Doesn’t the United Church of Christ have a larger, perhaps more important mission? Is the UCC full of Native Americans, or is it busy evangelizing to them? I just don’t have that information, but on the face of it, who cares if they boycott the Redskins? What impact do they really think they’ll have? And The Reverend Jesse Jackson will stick his nose in wherever he thinks he can get publicity, or be able to blackmail an organization or corporation for support of his own.

    And when will Major League Baseball be harassed because so many players cross themselves before they go to bat, or thank God in the same manner when they hit a home run? I personally don’t think God cares too much about who gets a hit or a home run: He/She clearly has other things to think about: if not, then He/She is either a sadist or a comedian. But this behavior on the part of ball players is individual, and should not be controlled by any other group or the thought police. Perhaps those of us who think it’s a pretty silly behavior should “do something about it.” Or the athetists out there! Go get ’em!

    Where will this end? Every name offends someone or some group. I think a group of fundamentalist Christians should organize a protest to get the restaurant “Friday’s” to change its name, since it clearly stems from the “Thank God It’s Friday” statement. Name a restaurant with God implicit in its name? Take the Lord’s name in vain in this way? Oh my.

    There must be a long list of company names, organization names, team names, and others that would allow various groups (religious or secular) to invoke misguided political correctness and insert themselves into free speech and commerce. I should start one. We could also start with names of individuals and famous nicknames. The government or some non-profit could create a list of “acceptable” first names, to make sure no one is in any way offended by the choices that parents make. That would take care of all the Marys, Jesuses, and any other first name that comes from the saints or Biblical sources, for example. Or if you’re not fond of the French, erase all French-inspired first names. This could get very interesting..

  4. I have written before about the meaning of “Redskins.” It is not about the color of the skin of Indians but the fruit and other elements they used to smear on their face and other parts of their body for war or ceremonial events. In the “old” days, when you saw one or more Indians coming your way with red substance smeared on their face, they were not coming to greet you, but to take your scalp. It is a VERY appropriate name for a football or any other team!

    • Howard: This is historical fact of which I was unaware. You should write to whatever media outlet harangues about this again and set them straight. I couldn’t care less about the Redskins or Snyder, either. But this is interesting information that few know (or maybe I’m the only ignoramus here).

    • Is that a defense though? The origin of a particular term may be innocent enough, much like “nigger” derives from an extremely colloquialized slurring of “negro” (if I recall, via the Scotch Irish accent) which, at its birth in accented speech was simply an identification based on race. It certainly developed in the negative slur it is today.

      If the same happened with “redskin”, I’m not sure it survives through an etymologically based defense.

  5. Hmmm, The Washington “Native Americans”? Somehow, that just doesn’t work for me. The Central Atlantic Conference of the U.C of C. really should find something better to do with their time. Being offended and boycotting football games does not quality as “good works”.

    • You should read Howard Daniel’s comment of June 16, or just read this copy of it:

      “I have written before about the meaning of “Redskins.” It is not about the color of the skin of Indians but the fruit and other elements they used to smear on their face and other parts of their body for war or ceremonial events. In the “old” days, when you saw one or more Indians coming your way with red substance smeared on their face, they were not coming to greet you, but to take your scalp. It is a VERY appropriate name for a football or any other team!”

  6. The Redskins are a product of sorts, and as such, they depend on the support of their customer base. If a growing number people start to find the product distasteful, because they are sensitive to the offensiveness of the name, it would be wise for the producers/owners of the product to adapt to their customers’ desires, assuming they want to continue to attract customers. At times, political correctness acts as a kind of market force which forms and shapes consumer attitudes towards various kinds of products and services. Whether or not you agree with the way the wind is blowing in regards to society’s moral sensitiveities, it makes sense to be in tune with any social conditions that will affect your bottom line. Of course this approach is less about right and wrong as much as it about dollars and cents.

  7. You don’t even make an attempt to engage with the arguments of Native American activists that the team name is offensive and damaging. Your response is “football team names are trivial, therefore they can have no effect on anything.”

    That’s some really well-supported reasoning for the foundation of your entire argument. If you take away the notion that this is a “fake issue” the rest of your argument falls apart.

    • Tell you what: Search for everything I’ve written on this topic, send me an apology for flagrantly misrepresenting my position, and then I may deign to answer you.

      Then you can show me how a football name has any negative effect on anyone, anywhere, or ever has. You can’t. The burden of proof is with those trying to impose their will, not on me, not on Dan Snyder. It’s all feelings. Well, your hurt feelings about something tangential to your life and existence are not sufficient to dictate what anyone else says or does.

      • You don’t have the burden of proof to demonstrate that they don’t cause negative effects. But you do have to actually engage with the arguments of the other side: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_mascot_controversy#Social_sciences

        I haven’t seen you do anything but whine about political correctness and how feelings don’t count for anything. And bizarrely claiming that the fact that they named the team the Redskins means there can be no racism about it. I suppose you think that the Coon Chicken Inn was founded by people who weren’t racist against blacks. Why would they name their restaurant after something they hate, after all?

        I looked over several of your posts, and I haven’t seen you once engage with a psychological or sociological study on the effects of stereotyping. You don’t get to simply wave away the opinions of psychologists and sociologists by saying “it’s all feelings.” Stereotyping has negative effects on minorities. The fact that the Redskins name does not have a huge effect by itself does not mean it does not contribute to racism.

        “It’s all feelings” is a particularly silly thing to say anyway, since ethics tends to be, you know, based on feelings. What is your outrage that Dan Snyder be pressured to change the name, if not “feelings”?

        • 1. Ethics have nothing to do with feelings. Ethics have to do with actions, consequences, and values.
          2. Congress should be pressuring private citizens’ expression, because it is violative of the spirit of the First Amendment and a abuse of power. Churches should be doing it because it violates the Golden Rule, and is bullying.
          2. The whining is all on the other side, my friend.
          3. “Psychologists” say, do they? For every one who says “the name of the Washington football team causes terrible trauma,” there is one to 20 who will say: “no measurable effect,” and you know it. Psychology isn’t science. Tell that one about stereotypes to the Boston Celtics, with the leprechaun logo. So that’s why all those Irish in my home town drink so often! The shame!
          4. So picking one podunk restaurant I never heard of that has a presumably racist name shows that a community and an owner would name a team that it embraces, cheers and worships after something it denigrates. Good argument.
          5. Why don’t you try the time worn “Would you want a team to be called the Washington Kikes or Retards?” No, because people don’t name the teams that represent their community after things, groups and images they don’t intend to honor. It’s a dumb and lazy analogy.
          6. How, exactly, do you “engage” with someone who says “it’s offensive to me,” so you have to appease me, other than to say: no, in fact, we don’t, and you can solve your own problem by not focusing on things you don’t like. People don’t have the right to cleanse the world of all sensations, ideas and images they don’t like. If the Redskins were mailing logos to them unrequested, they would have a legitimate bitch.
          7. There’s nothing to engage, and no substantive arguments to oppose. Nobody is really offended by the name of football team, but there is much to be gained by asserting political power by bending others to their will. The team’s name was never intended to be a slur, historically wasn’t originally a slur, and didn’t even come into being because the name referenced Native Americans, as I have written here before. The madness regarding so-called “offensive team logos and mascots” is symptom of larger illness, and that illness–creeping censorship of images, humor and metaphors as a method of political control—is dangerous, and the Redskins are as goo a place to draw the line in the sand as any.

          • 1. Values have to do with feelings. Unless you propose that you can deduce them from physics.

            If 3 is true, then you should be able to demonstrate it. So go ahead. Surely there’s a lit review out there somewhere that will demonstrate your view of psychology is true, because you wouldn’t make such a claim without actually having reviewed the evidence, right? That would be unethical.

            4. It demonstrates that your argument is false. Which is that you don’t name things after people you denigrate. That’s what you said, not me. Clearly sometimes people do do that. Playing off stereotypes of Native Americans as savage warriors does not require them to respect and embrace actual Native Americans. When real Native Americans protested the Braves, fans spat at them and called them racial slurs. People who, without that incontrovertible evidence, you would claim “embrace, cheer and worship” Native Americans. Your assumptions are false. Embracing Native American stereotypes is not the same as embracing and respecting actual Native Americans.

            A Native American who protested the Braves’ name “recalls that “In Atlanta, we got spit on, they poured beer on us, we heard every racial slur you could conceive of” (qtd. in Rosen)”
            http://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/commfac_pubs/5/

            5. Why don’t I? Well, I tend not to use arguments that are put into my mouth. This is just a straw man. Is it “ethical” to respond to me by trying to smear me with an argument that I pointedly did not make?

            6. I linked you to a page with several references to scientific studies. You clearly did not give them even a cursory look. They do not simply say “it’s offensive to me”. To engage with someone, it helps if you actually know what their argument is, instead of assuming it is the weak argument you would prefer to respond to. You are responding to straw men. Again. Not very honest or ethical.

            When you demonstrate that you’re aware of what those studies even claim, you can send me an apology for flagrantly misrepresenting mine and their positions, and then I may deign to answer you again.

            • 1. Values have to do with feelings. Unless you propose that you can deduce them from physics.

              No, they don’t. They are all quantifiable and capable of analysis. Fairness can be measured, for example. What feels fair isn’t necessarily fair. Utter nonsense.

              2. “It demonstrates that your argument is false. Which is that you don’t name things after people you denigrate.”
              Again, hilarious, and lame, and it you believe it, evidence of cognitive issues. I was not asserting an absolute that can be disproved with freaks and outliers. Name me any sports team or major business establishment that is named to denigrate. There are none, because nobody does that. As I said.

              3. If 3 is true, then you should be able to demonstrate it. So go ahead. Surely there’s a lit review out there somewhere that will demonstrate your view of psychology is true, because you wouldn’t make such a claim without actually having reviewed the evidence, right? That would be unethical.

              You sent me to Wikipedia! You’re hilarious. None of those studies, which were designed to show what they showed, and were completely subject to bias pollution,are convincing, and anyone who believes, as you seem to accept, that the name of the Washington Redskins causes suicides and psychosis, is beyond help. The blanket condemnation of stereotypes, which are not merely invaluable tools of drama, humor, art and adverting, but also helpful to groups themselves, shows a biased position itself. The material cited in Wiki doesn’t even define how pervasive a stereotype has to be to have such dire effects. The DC football team causes potential suicides in North Dakota? Doubtful. And here’s your real problem: it’s free speech, and protecting that is more important than stopping hypothetical suicides.

              Mostly, however, the studies involve stereotypes, which may be germane to mascots, but not to names. They aren’t relevant to the post or the topic. There is no Redskins Indian mascot. So what’s the stereotype?

              5. A Native American who protested the Braves’ name “recalls that “In Atlanta, we got spit on, they poured beer on us, we heard every racial slur you could conceive of”

              And how was this causally linked to the name of the baseball team? And what does one statement from one witness, not under oath and without witnesses prove? Nada. If that’s a normal community reaction rather than a single outlier, why has there been no such incident ever reported in DC.?

              5. Why don’t I? Well, I tend not to use arguments that are put into my mouth. This is just a straw man. Is it “ethical” to respond to me by trying to smear me with an argument that I pointedly did not make?

              You did make it, just not in those words. You asserted that teams get named after slurs. They don’t, when the name isn’t reagrded as a slur.

              6. I linked you to a page with several references to scientific studies. You clearly did not give them even a cursory look. They do not simply say “it’s offensive to me”. To engage with someone, it helps if you actually know what their argument is, instead of assuming it is the weak argument you would prefer to respond to. You are responding to straw men. Again. Not very honest or ethical.

              Wikipedia. Opinions, not “science.”

              7.When you demonstrate that you’re aware of what those studies even claim, you can send me an apology for flagrantly misrepresenting mine and their positions, and then I may deign to answer you again.

              You’re my guest here. Snottiness is not a substitute for argument. Your argument amounts to just contrariness, expressed superciliously. I get to deign to argue with you; the reverse isn’t true. You were insulting from comment #1—sorry: that doesn’t fly here. Shape up, or get lost.

              • MRP was diagnosed as a troll, and after his last post, arguing again that “fairness” is a feeling rather than an ethical value, and continuation of relentless appeals to authority as a substitute for debate, I spammed (banned) him. He keeps sneaking back, confirming my diagnosis, and I’ll just keep spamming him.

  8. With 3, I failed to point out that it is also a straw man that I claimed that any psychological study claimed that “the name of the Redskins causes terrible trauma”.

    • So, Jack, your thoughts on the trademark ruling? Or is that going to be a separate post unto itself?
      **************
      Steve, I’ll bet his head exploded today.
      hehe

      • Oh, the trademark ruling is embarrassing, and if it isn’t over-ruled in the initial appeal, it will be. Try applying the Church’s “any trademark that is offensive to anyone is invalid” standard fairly. (Goodbye, Hooters!) In the words of Mrs. Peachum: “Idiots! All of them.”

    • Tell me, what is it exactly that you think that account proves that is relevant to the issue? In other words, so what? (And the quotes are flat out wrong: Native Americans did call themselves “redskins,” not that this is especially dispositive one way or the other. Make an argument germane to the question: “they did it too” is not an ethical argument. One of many things about ethics you need to learn, and that I could indeed teach you.

      • I think the benefit of the news report is a small demonstration on the silliness of “racial” definitions… Not having all the information necessary, and based wholly on assumptions, it would seem the ludicrous method the law uses to define one as an Indian is demonstrated by Nez Perce tribal member Charlotte Harrison…

        My dad would have qualified to be a member of the Choctaw nation or Cherokee nation according to US law (prior to it’s change in the 70s) on the extreme minimum end of the pedigree or hereditary standard… but believed it absolutely ridiculous that people can be defined that way. He has lived completely isolated from “tribal culture” as a public school teacher, as did his dad (my grandfather) who was a variously a day laborer, heavy equipment operator, small scale merchant. HIS dad was a dirt poor farmer/rancher in the late 1890s who, family starving nearly to death, had to sell what land they had and migrate to Oklahoma (literally a year or two before oil was discovered on that land). He had married a 1/2 Choctaw woman, whose family had been associated with our family in a previous generation’s less-than-legal enterprises in post-Civil War Louisiana. Those Cherokee men and women also had little to no tribal interaction and were more or less migrant criminals.

        I find it amusing that apparently urban Charlotte Harrison, living for all intents and purposes a non-tribal, non-“traditional”-indian life to really be harmed by the term Redskin.

        Racial classifications are a friggen farce. I can understand Cultural Groupings and people being offended when their cultural group is being *truly* disparaged, but when your only, and I mean only, attachment to an Ethnically based Cultural Group is some ridiculous legality, but you literally have nothing else to attach you to that Cultural Group… get over it.

        • A whole essay could be written just on the stupid history of Indian racial classifications… from attempts at exclusion of blacks who had been held as slaves by the noble savages, to the various changing US laws trying to define who gets to suckle at the teat of government coffers…

          That essay would fit nicely into a larger essay about the stupidity of racial classifications in general.

            • Actually I think his son is an adoptive American, but no less a native now than any of the rest of us. I think Canada’s use of the term First Nations is a better one, but I usually sidestep the issue if I know the specific tribe and just say Cherokee or Osage or whatever.

              • I don’t think any collectivized term is useful for the, various, wildly diverse, and in some instances, historically inimical to each other, Indian tribes. Your sidestep is a far better descriptor, considering the distinctiveness of each tribe.

                “First Nations”. What exactly does that mean, if they call themselves “the First Nations” can we call ourselves “the Winning Nations”? and when do “First Nations” stop being “nations” in the ethnic sense of the word?

                Do modern Italians have less of a claim to the land of Italy than would someone who could demonstrate more Cisalpine Gallic DNA or Samnite DNA? Or is the defining mark a matter of the purest descendants of the Cisalpine Gauls and Samnites that they lack a modern grievance industry to back them?

                I can certainly see a cutoff being that the Gallic and Samnite breed has been “diluted” (whatever that means) into what we call modern Italians. If that is the case, what do we do with people like the mighty Nez Perce warrior-woman, Charlotte Harrison, with her pleasant French originated first name, popularized in the Colonial Era and her English last name, probably a solid summary of her majority ethnic background?

                If someone isn’t living as a tribal & cultural indian, I don’t see any ethical argument why they should be afforded some special legal status with special privileges. Any association with a tribe while being a modern American is quite frankly only partaking in a club that celebrates a particular heritage.

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