I was taken aback two days ago when I read an article on the BBC website that reported that on Wednesday 21st May, 49 Senators (48 of them Democrats and 1 Independent) had written a letter to Mr. Roger Goodell in his capacity as the Commissioner of the National Football League urging him to order the owner of the Washington Redskins to change the club’s name as it represents a “racial slur”. This demand was made in light of a recent action by the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver, who imposed sanctions on the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for has apparent racism.
The letter from the Senators stated that the League can “no longer ignore” calls from Native American groups and expressed support from none other than President Obama himself for the required change of name. The owner of the Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder, is not keen to make the change, claiming that the name of the club actually “honours Native Americans” as well as being supported by many of the public as well as supporters of the football club.
What caught my attention was the sheer hypocrisy of these politicians. This is such an obvious example of sensationalism that it engenders a series of questions about the judgments and political priorities of such representatives. Given the indebtedness of the USA at this time, the clear evidence of draconian problems as the result of futile wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone pressing domestic issues related to poverty, hunger and disenfranchisement, these honourable men take the time to launch a campaign against the name of a football club! Will their myopia now direct them to demand that the home of the President is no longer called the “White House” or will they instead address the urgent need to curb the National Rifle Association to prevent yet more children being killed by guns? Or might they actually find a modern day method of assessing the real outcomes of formal education, which the outmoded SAT does not?
We will just have to be patient and wait to see what these fine men deem important.