A defense of political correctness regarding Washington’s NFL team
Legendary football player and coach Mike Ditka declared the other day that the fuss over the name of the Washington franchise in the NFL is just so much political correctness — a point with which I fully agree.
You see, political correctness (or PC, for short) has an admirable history in American culture. More than a few popular terms of yore for women and certain minorities have gradually fallen into disuse so as to avoid giving offense.
Was it a case of PC when Pekin (Ill.) High School was pressured decades ago to abandon the nickname “Chinks” for its sports teams? Yes, it was. And rightly so.
Was it PC when St. Bonaventure University changed the name of its women’s teams from the “Brown Squaws” to the “Bonnies”?
Isn’t it about time that Freeburg (Ill.) High School change the nickname of its teams to something other than the “Midgets”?
How about the Coachella Valley (Calif.) High School “Arabs”?
Wahpeton (N. Dak.) High School long ago had the good sense to drop the nickname “Wops.”
But the folks at Robstown (Tex.) High School still haven’t dropped the nickame “Cottonpickers,” which evokes images of when theirs was a slave state.
Beyond the nicknames of sports teams, there are numerous other examples of how PC has changed our American vocabulary — and changed it for the better.
These days, you don’t hear many business managers refer to female staffers as “the girls in the office.” And nobody with even the slightest sense of PC is going to call a black man a “boy.”
(Interesting footnote to that last example: In the movie “Casablanca,” the character played by Ingrid Bergman repeatedly refers to the character played by Dooley Wilson as a “boy,” though he was 30 years older than her.)
The argument is sometimes made that intentions should be the deciding factor in whether certain terms are offensive. For example, if your intentions are innocent enough, nobody should take offense if you refer to black people as “colored folks” or “Negroes.” But few Americans use those terms anymore — simply because they rightly recognize them as politically incorrect.
Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington’s NFL team, regularly claims that the term “Redskins” has always been intended as a term of honor, not disparagement. But the fact remains, as I noted HERE last week, that dozens of Native Americans take offense at the term.
Hence, Snyder should change the name of his team. His innocent intentions should be trumped by political correctness. No matter if Mike Ditka objects.