Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has joined the clamor to change the name of the NFL's Washington Redskins — but not because of political correctness or allegations of racism.
Instead, he says, "Words don't stand still. They evolve," and as such the Redskins name is no longer acceptable, he argues in an Op-Ed for The Washington Post
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"I don't like the language police ensuring that no one anywhere gives offense to anyone about anything. And I fully credit the claim of Redskins owner Dan Snyder
and many passionate fans that they intend no malice or prejudice and that 'Redskins' has a proud 80-year history they wish to maintain.
Krauthammer cites the word "Negro" as an example of how words change. Martin Luther King used it 15 times during his "I Have a Dream" speech, but now it "carries an unmistakably patronizing and demeaning tone."
"Retarded" is another word that has fallen out of fashion and is no longer acceptable.
And use of the word "Redskins" is similar, he said. "You wouldn't say: "And by my count, there are two redskins (in Congress)," he wrote. "It's inconceivable, because no matter how the word was used 80 years ago, it carries invidious connotations today."
Krauthammer says that while he ultimately agrees with those who are pushing for the team name to be changed, he rejects most of the arguments used to justify it.
But he still thinks the Redskins name should be discarded. "Why? Simple decency. I wouldn't want to use a word that defines a people — living or dead, offended or not — in a most demeaning way. It's a question not of who or how many had their feelings hurt, but of whether you want to associate yourself with a word that, for whatever historical reason having nothing to do with you, carries inherently derogatory connotations," Krauthammer says.
He recommends that in the case of the Washington Redskins, the official team name could be shortened to "Skins."
"Choose whatever name you like. But let's go easy on the other side. We're not talking Brown v. Board of Education here. There's no demand that Native-Americans man the team's offensive line. This is a matter of usage — and usage changes. If you shot a remake of 1934's 'The Gay Divorcee,' you'd have to change that title too. Not because the lady changed but because the word did."
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