The Joker: I wanted to see what you’d do. And you didn’t disappoint.
If you’ve been paying any attention to the PC left, you’ve seen that there has been a burgeoning movement to unilaterally rename The Washington Redskins “The Washington Football team” or “The Football Team that Plays in Washington” or some such. Venerable news outlets dedicated to sports like Slate and Salon and The New Republic and DCist have all jumped on the bandwagon. Dan Snyder quavers at the combined might of those organizations, I’m sure.
Rick Reilly decided to have a bit of fun with this and point out to the (almost uniformly) white liberals who operate the above outlets that, well, actual Indians don’t have a problem with the name. A taste of Reilly’s column:
“The whole issue is so silly to me,” says Bob Burns, my wife’s father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”
And I definitely don’t know how I’ll tell the athletes at Wellpinit (Wash.) High School — where the student body is 91.2 percent Native American — that the “Redskins” name they wear proudly across their chests is insulting them. Because they have no idea. …
Same story with the Red Mesa (Ariz.) High School Redskins. They wear the name with fierce pride. They absolutely don’t see it as an insult. But what do they know? The student body is only 99.3 percent Native American.
And even though an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins name, and even though linguists say the “redskins” word was first used by Native Americans themselves, and even though nobody on the Blackfeet side of my wife’s family has ever had someone insult them with the word “redskin,” it doesn’t matter. There’s no stopping a wave of PC-ness when it gets rolling.
It is, frankly, an eminently reasonable column making a number of good points, the overarching one being this: The PC left is mounting this campaign because it makes them feel good about themselves—it grants them a sense of superiority, a way to show that they really really care—and not because, you know, the people to whom they claim this causes offense are actually offended.
Needless to say, the PC left was not pleased. Deadspin’s Tim Marchman called Reilly’s column “the worst thing.” Which is kind of hilarious since, on a scale of “zero to small pox blankets” Reilly’s column is, like, the least bad thing to happen to native Americans in 200 years. But whatever.
Marchman’s reaction was far from unique. Here are just a smattering of my favorite Twitter freakouts:
— Sponsoredbyv8 (@Sponsoredbyv8) September 18, 2013
This really is the stupidest column I have read in ages http://t.co/5eQLW45yXG
— Simon Williamson (@simonwillo) September 19, 2013
— Kumar Rao (@krao78) September 19, 2013
Your stupid read of the day. http://t.co/KjvhJV0Pt5
— SV (@SunnyV) September 19, 2013
I have wondered how much time Rick Reilly puts into his columns. Apparently, not a lot. http://t.co/echlHMF9dn
— Robert Harding (@robertharding) September 19, 2013
You get the idea.
If I can circle back to this post on political correctness, there’s another line from Chuck Klosterman’s essay on Andrew Dice Clay and the reaction that gave rise to him that is worth quoting in this context: “I’m reticent to use the term ‘political correctness.’ I realize it drives certain people really, really crazy. (My wife is one of these people.)” My experiences confirm Klosterman’s point. And the reaction to Reilly’s comment is a perfect example of the phenomenon. It is kind of amazing the response you get as soon as you make the entirely uncontroversial point that opposition to the name “Redskin” is rooted in little more than reactionary, kneejerk political correctness.
I get the sense that Reilly wrote this column just to see what the PC police would do. And they didn’t disappoint.