The Washington Redskins just cannot seem to get much right these days. They have won just three of 11 games. Their rookie coach embarrassed the star quarterback one week, benched him the next and the owner arrogantly refuses change the franchise’s nickname that many Native Americans call “racist.”
Now, the team makes a presumably innocent gesture Thursday—tweeting “Happy Thanksgiving from the Redskins—and it blows up into a public relations disaster, considering the history of Native Americans and the brutality they suffered at the hands of settlers, seen through the lens of owner Dan Snyder’s insistence on keeping the name.
Thanksgiving celebrates the migration of Pilgrims and Puritans from England to the New World. But many Native Americans consider the day one of mourning because of the vast slaughter that ensued, including natives being forced into slavery by the English.
And so, the venom ensued.
One tweet read: “the F’n irony of the @Redskins wishing a happy thanksgiving from the dictionary defined slur ref to our bloody scalps.”
Baxter Holmes wrote in Esquire: “Non-Natives may never quite understand how deep the term ‘redskins’ cuts into ancient wounds that have never quite healed, and maybe it’s not reasonable to expect them to. But every time Dan Snyder refuses to change his NFL team’s name. . . (he) plunges a long, twisted blade into our hearts.
“I feel that pain not only because I’m a proud Native American, of Cherokee and Choctaw lineage, but because my parents steeped me and my brothers in that culture so that it would live on within us.
“The mascot of the Washington Redskins, if the team desired accuracy, would be a gory, bloodied crown from the head of a butchered Native American.”
Sadly, this incident will likely have no impact on Snyder changing his mind. And it will not help the team get better, either. Maybe it’s bad karma that’s contributing to the Redskins’ struggles.